Partially modelled 3D laser scan of c 8th Century stone slab - Marigold decoration in lower right

Partially modelled 3D laser scan of c 8th Century stone slab - Marigold decoration in lower right
Marigold stone slab, from Tullylease in North Cork, Ireland, a partially modelled 3D laser scan, screenshot from Rapidform Software shows damage and flaking to the surface of the stone.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Report on March 26th Plenary at CAA Southampton 2012 by Jeremy Huggett

Huggett is going to consider some philosphical questions in relation to Archaeological Computing.

He begins with a reference from IEEE Computer Archaeology 2011 - "... the emerging field of computational archaeology..." and the characterisation of the discipline as an 'emerging' field, which it is not.  Huggett examines the terms archaeological informatics, archaeological computing, computer archaeology, computational archaeology, archaeological information science google  - and performs a text analysis, using google, google scholar, and ngrams to measure and chart the terminology over time.

What has everyone been doing for over 20 years if the field is emerging?  Clearly that is a nonsense!

He also examines why we use certain terms - and often it is for tactical convenience, to get money, jobs, grants, create centres - these terms, these word choices are political.

The term Digital Archaeology is used too in an Internet Weekly magazine US and Europe - to look at the history of computing...

He asks, does the usage of certain terms make any difference at all?

Yes - as in process of naming and renaming, questioning academic legitimacy, thinking about the intellectual core of the discipline, considering rigour, and the value of the contributions we make in what he calls an 'Anxiety discourse'...  I recognise this too from a DH standpoint.

This is part of discipline building... and refers repeatedly to DH (Digital Humanities)...

There is only 'one' journal - Archeologicia E Calcolatori - I'd argue this point, as Hugget's own Internet Archaeology has been very useful for me in the past

Again he gives an good example from DH - with humanities scholars not citing DH journals...

All of these acts on the impact of a discipline - the naming of journals, citation etc

Is the discipline transformative he asks? Are we making an impact - are AC scholars equally good in their topic?  Is AC simply a methodology or a series of techniques?  Can it give something new to the discipline?

His apt Southampton example is the human genome project, and he asks where is our grand challenge?
These disciplinary concerns and anxieties are reflected in DH too - and the focus on words, meaning and definition also made me feel at home in this plenary.  It was a provoking, motivating presentation.  My reportage is limited by my typing speed, but I do hope that the overall sense of the talk was conveyed.

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