This semester I am enrolled, as part of George Mason’s Digital Public Humanities Certificate, in a course titled “Digital Public History”, which I am very excited about. If you’ve read the preceding entries, you already know that I am a professional cultural resource management archaeologist, traveling throughout the eastern seaboard leaving a trail of test pits behind me. To achieve this illustrious career, I received a BA in Anthropology (focus on Archaeology) from Temple University in ’13, followed by an MA at Brandeis University in Ancient Greek and Roman Studies in ’16 and finally a stream of rejection letters for PhD programs. Left wondering what I was supposed to do with my life without school, I joined the private sector and immediately found a way to stay in school by joining this program.
In truth, I enrolled in George Mason’s Graduate Certificate in Digital Public Humanities for more than the comfort of scheduled classes and term paper deadlines. My last year in graduate school I had discovered the digital humanities and sought to learn more about the field. I attended a THATCamp to this end and was inspired. I wanted my research to have the ability to reach thousands of people and engage them the way the projects at the “unconfrence” did. Before my course work for George Mason began, I taught myself to 3D model and print, code and web design- with varying degrees of proficiency. I became more comfortable with the skills during the Introduction to Digital Humanities class and picked up GIS as well.
So, after the ground work, I am very, very excited to get into the public aspect of this certificate program. In academia in general, but in archaeology in particular, scholars tend to hoard their data, publish rarely and distribute to a select, elite, few. What is the point of doing humanities research if most of humanity never hears about your project! I think digital public history is a wonderful answer to this problem. Unlike many public archaeology programs that require the public to physically go to an excavation, just to watch the experts from behind glass, digital public archaeology would allow for a deep, richer, more personally enriching experience.
My greatest hope for this semester is to learn how to better communicate with people who are not archaeologists or academics. I want to learn how to make my research appeal to a larger audience than the fifty other people in the world who study it. A specific skill I wish to learn to how to better utilize social media as a tool for digital public humanities. I scarcely use Facebook now, let alone Twitter, Pintrest, or Flikr. I do realize, however, that they are powerful communication tools.