archaeogaming unconference – logistics

Madness

Madness

The #archaeogaming unconference will take place here: https://unhangout.media.mit.edu/event/archaeogaming at 11 am, EST, June 1st; y’all are welcome to throw together other spaces (hangouts, skype, collaborative docs, etherpads, what have you) to extend or push the idea further. Ideas that have come in so far can be found/voted on here: http://www.allourideas.org/archaeogaming/.

In terms of how the day will unravel (unroll? play out?) I’m imagining say 3 sessions with 3 breakout rooms, at 45 minutes each, 10 minutes between for refreshment. Unlike in-person unconferences, I think trying to agree a schedule on the morning might be too difficult, so I’d take the top voted topics, slot them into a google spreadsheet-schedule template, say next monday – and then people can leave comments on the the desired layout. I’d leave that open for the week, then adjust/publish the schedule that weekend, according to what seems like the majority will.

Then, morning of, I’ll remind/repost the URL to the unhangout, and we’d be off to the races. The unhangout can be broadcast via Youtube too (though I’m not entirely sure how that happens or what the channel will be – guess I should go and see which of my many accounts is plumbed into what service).

Sound good?

Fumbling towards Virtuality

With apologies to Sarah.

So the Oculus Rift arrived some time ago. What with conferences and illness, I didn’t really get to play with it until today. I followed all directions, and eventually got the damned thing wired to my 5 yr old Windows 7 machine.

I know, I know.

I have dual monitors. Dual VGA monitors. My box does not have VGA ports. Or rather, it does but they don’t hook to anything (curse you pimplyfaced Best Buy salesman). So, five years ago, I had to hunt high and low for dvi and display port adaptors. At the time, dvi and dp monitors were more than I had coin for. I tell you this to explain part of this morning shennanigans; hooking the Rift up to the hdmi port upset the delicate balance that keeps my monitors working (seriously – there’s  wire loose somewhere, which happened after I had to replace the power supply).

I know, I know.

Anyway, once everything was hooked up, the cool blue light of the Rift’s eyepieces beckoned me to put the thing on. Did I mention I have astigmatism in both eyes?

I know, I know.

Behold – my desktop upside down, and my two monitors no longer in position left and right. They inverted. So all alerts, buttons, windows etc were in the Rift view. I should mention that when I went to download the SDK & the runtime, my antivirus freaked right out about trojans (thank you, 360 total security). False alarm. But the auto-quarantine thing had the effect of buggering up the download, so I had to figure out what was going on there before I could get it all downloaded. Anyway, after much futzing, I got the desktop to display correctly in the Rift, even though it would no longer mirror to my monitors. ‘I can work with this’, I thought.

I know, I know.

When I tried the demo, I started getting all sorts of error messages. After more futzing and googling, I arrived at that point that all of us eventually get to:

…and I reinstalled the bloody sdk, and the runtime. And lo! the demo ran, appearing on my screen. The headtracker appeared to work as well, for on the screen as I moved the Rift around the ceiling of the tuscan villa would appear, then the walls, then the floor… except, not within the bloody Rift itself. No, the Rift was showing an orange ‘trouble’ light.

And then the viewer crashed, and the graphics all buggered up, and… and… I blame my graphics card & its software (whether rightly or wrongly, something’s gonna take the blame). It’s an AMD Radeon HD5570, but yeah, something’s up. And I’ve lost the better part of this morning futzing with this.

Things are getting dire.

Why I’m doing this: I want to do something like what these folks are doing, immersive network viz & navigation.

Anyway, it’s probably time to replace my box and when I do, surely most (all?) of my issues will automagically disappear.

(Well, this issue here is probably the culprit and I need to run in extended desktop mode, but still).

Update: I switched it to extended desktop mode; nothing. Back to normal mode. Then hot damn, the thing works! So I am now fully oculus rift’d.

Let’s do something cool.

an #archaeogaming unconference

Madness.

Update:

Mark June 1st on your calendars folks! https://unhangout.media.mit.edu/event/archaeogaming

This is probably madness, but what the hell. Given the interest this past week in the intersection(s) of archaeology and gaming that seemed to be happening across various blogs & across the twittersphere, it occurred to me that this was a really good opportunity for me to learn how to throw a virtual unconference. (Wasn’t that everyone’s first thought?) So, in order to get a sense of what people might be interested in talking about, I cooked up an ‘all our ideas’ voting page which can be found here. It presents you with pairs of ideas, and you simply click on the idea you like better in any given pair. Don’t like the ideas at all? You can add your own, no registration required. Now, to host the unconference, I’m thinking the MIT ‘unhangout’ is the way to do it. I’ve never used it, but I like the look of it, and I think it’ll be useful for my teaching next year, so again, a good opportunity. Anyway, it allows for breakout rooms via some clever coding on top of the regular google hangout. The video explains more. https://player.vimeo.com/video/90475288 I’ll leave the ‘all our ideas’ page running for a few more days. When I’ve settled on a day & time (probably this month, likely a monday or tuesday) I’ll update this post. All welcome.

Grabbing data from Open Context

This morning, on Twitter, there was a conversation about site diaries and the possibilities of topic modeling for extracting insight from them. Open Context has 2618 diaries – here’s one of them. Eric, who runs Open Context, has an excellent API for all that kind of data. Append .json on the end of a file name, and *poof*, lots of data. Here’s the json version of that same diary.  So, I wanted all of those diaries – this URL (click & then note where the .json lives; delete the .json to see the regular html) has ’em all.

I copied and pasted that list of urls into a .txt file, and fed it to wget

wget -i urlstograb.txt -O output.txt

and now my computer is merrily pinging Eric’s, putting all of the info into a single txt file. And sometimes crashing it, too.

(Sorry Eric).

When it’s done, I’ll rename it .json and then use Rio to get it into useable form for R. The data has geographic coordinates too, so with much futzing I expect I could *probably* represent topics over space (maybe by exporting to Gephi & using its geolayout).

Futz: that’s the operative word, here.

Calling for #archaeogames – some thoughts on potential processes

Some months ago, I was talking with a colleague about the changing landscape of academic publishing. I was encouraging her to try some of these various open access and/or post-publication peer review and/or open peer review experiments that I’ve published in. Like any true believer, I was a bit annoying.

A lot annoying.

To which she sensibly responded: “But you were hired here to do that sort of thing. I was not. My goal right now is to secure tenure. I can’t have a bunch of ‘failed’ experiments or things that are too out-there on my cv when I go up.”

I was taken aback, but upon reflection, I realized she was entirely right. It’s one thing to be hired officially as ‘the digital humanities’ guy. I was expected from the get go – it was in the original job description – to be different, to do these odd things. Now, when I went through the tenure process, I still had to tell a good story about what I was doing and why it mattered and why it merited serious consideration. But still, I was in a position that my colleague is not. As I reflect on this, I realize that another obligation of this freedom that I have is that it is not enough for me to try things out with my own research.

My own research itself should be about making it possible for others to do this as well.

That is, in the same way I teach digital methods to my second year undergrads as just ho-hum these are just normal things that we do, I need to put whatever credibility it is that I have myself on the line so that others can try things out too. As I think of this #archaeogaming thing that I suggested in my previous post, and I consider the excellent advice that Jack & Kristen gave, along with Andrew’s thoughts and Tara’s careful responses, I see that there are a number of various deep issues that a ‘call for games’ raises. What credibility I have can be usefully expended trying to address these issues to normalize games as a serious venue for doing scholarship. Consider this post and this ‘call for games’ business as an effort to spend my academic credit towards opening up a new front for writing/making/crafting/communicating scholarship

Right now, before going any further, you should read the links in that paragraph above to the original post, then Andrew, Tara, Jack & Kristen’s responses. Ok, now that we’re all caught up- In no particular order, and not necessarily responding to any particular point raised in this conversation, here are some thoughts occasioned by this conversation:

1. archaeologists are not game designers. Game designers are not archaeologists. Agreed.  This is not a problem, when we remember that ‘a video game’ does not need to mean a triple-A title, filled with whiz bang graphics etc. I’m thinking of games here in the way that Anna Anthropy discusses in ‘Rise of the Videogame Zinesters‘. I’m talking punk archaeology. I’m talking a kind of public archaeology, zine-like remixing.

2. any game that gets created has to be using the affordance of the medium, the platform, as an integral part of the argument being made. No archaeological window-dressing. I used a zork-like interface once to decentre the top-down view of the world we are used to from Google earth, to get my students to ‘think like a Roman’, an argument about how Romans themselves saw and navigated space. (Post mortem). It doesn’t have to be ‘fun’. It doesn’t have to be complete. It does have to make an argument.

3. radical transparency. If issuing a ‘call for #archaeogames’ is to be meaningful, then every step in the process has to be clear. We don’t all have to agree, but when disagreements emerge, we have to arrive at a resolution

4. a collected ‘volume’ (for lack of a better word) of #archaeogames has to teach the ‘reader’ how to interact with it. For better or worse, I think this means that there has to be a ‘paradata’ document. Last year’s HeritageJam introduced this concept to me. I really rather like the concept. Why I say ‘for worse’ above – for the reader, a written document is a life-ring, something to cling to, that absolves the ‘reader/player’ from critically engaging with the game. It’s text – phew, I can read text!  A paradata document can be a playable thing too though.

5. thinking of paradata makes me think of the ‘feelies‘ that accompanied the first wave of computer gaming (here’s the Grail Diary, by the way). Maybe a call for archaeogames should explicitly call for feelies that can be printed, bound, pdf’d, whatever so that it is impossible to rely on the text alone to understand the argument. Bind the material with the digital.

6. which reminds me of ARGs, but we’ll leave that to one side for now (though check out this).

7. an archaeogame does not necessarily have to be a video game. Board, card games, school-yard games, ‘barely games‘, playsets… we’re materialists, are we not?

And finally, spend some time looking at Amanda Visconti’s digital dissertation, and contrast that with the draft AHA guidelines for evaluating digital scholarship. The latter is very much concerned with making digital scholarship feel ‘ok’ to existing modes of scholarship (and that’s important); the former gives us a model for thinking through what the actual look of a ‘collected volume’ of #archaeogames might …look… like. I especially appreciate her approach to LOCKSS (lots of copies keeps stuff safe), with web archival recordings, submission of materials to the Internet Archive Wayback machine, zips of her github repo (itself something one could also fork – copy – as well), XML for all wordpress posts.

So these thoughts are banging around in my head. I started sketching on paper:

Let’s pick that apart, because my hands are shaky, the tablet is heavy and clunky, and the picture frankly is abysmal.

Theme – a call for archaeogames should have some sort of thematic focus. I’m a Romanist (was a Romanist?). Let’s set the theme as ‘Roman Urban Spaces’. Broad to allow many voices; narrow enough for some sort of thematic unity, some sort of understanding, to emerge from our digital scholarship. The call for games would want games that explicitly use the affordances of whatever platform the creator chooses to make their argument.

Process – what was neat about the Writing History in the Digital Age project, and the Web Writing project was the way every step in the process was extraordinarily clear. What would the process look like here? Drawing on Andrew & Tara’s suggestions, I’m thinking that since we’re both a) teaching/encouraging people to write scholarship via games and b) teaching/encouraging people to read/play scholarship written in games, we have to keep things fairly simple. So –

–  a sign up form, with a one-paragraph ‘here’s my idea, roughly’

– a website with a tumblr-like page for each project, where authors would document their process; in something like this, the process itself is an extremely important scholarly output. Reader/players would be encouraged to comment here. Gitbooks.io might be a good spot, as text and code can be integrated, multiple authorship is no problem. I’m sure there are many options here.

– each author to maintain a github repo with their code (which would also mean we might have to teach people how to use github), linked from their project page.

– three months to build the game (whatever form, genre, etc that it may take).

– a due date for the paradata (guidelines to be provided) at roughly the same time, remembering that paradata could be text or itself gameful

– an open review period after that due date, where reader/players comment on a holistic-view of the entire project written by the editors.

– a subsequent round of polishing for those authors’ work deemed to move on to the next phase, the decision being based on the impact of the argument, sophistication (not necessarily technical) of the piece, the engagement with the reader/players… obviously, something to flesh out a *lot* more.

Outcome – what’s the (ahem) endgame for all this? Maybe –

– final publication as a website along the Visconti model, with the playable games made available, and with all code lodged in an open repository. We’d have to find one of these, though there are more coming onstream every day.

– perhaps approach Internet Archaeology. We have a dataverse repo here at Carleton that could work too.

Clear statements on intellectual property absolutely would need to be developed at the outset. I see no reason why the IP shouldn’t remain with the author/creators.

… ?

ludi incipiant! a call for #archaeogames?

Let’s play a game.

In the wake of the #saa2015 #archaeogaming hashtag (as well as #ctp2015, ‘challenge the past’), and indeed Heritage Jam, I’ve been thinking about how awesome it would be to have a collection of papers dealing with archaeogaming (as Andrew defines it). Such things exist (although, as I tap this out, I can’t link to anything in particular) though they are more ‘reception studies’ than what I think we’ve been seeing lately.

And then as I sat in traffic, imagining what a ‘call for papers’ might say, the penny dropped. Why call for papers at all?

Why not issue a call for games?

Why not use the medium we’re interested in itself to write our scholarship? Trevor talks about this in the context of history more broadly. If you haven’t read that post, you should – go on, I’ll wait. Trevor makes a persuasive argument.

Brass tacks. How would this play out? Normally, if you had a collected volume in mind, you would contact potential contributors, have them cook up abstracts, then with abstracts in hand you approach a potential publisher… I’ve been part of a couple of experiments with Jack Dougherty that do all of this in the open, via a comment-press platform. I imagine this makes the finding a publisher a bit easier (?) because you can already demonstrate interest and potential readership. What would the flow look like for a collection of archaeogames? Maybe some sort of ‘humble-bundle’ hosted on itch.io maybe? Maybe some sort of wordpress site as a wrapper? Games could be any genre, any platform -board games too, if they can be distributed say as print-outable pdfs or 3d-, as long as they make a scholarly, archaeological, argument where the affordances of the medium are used to best advantage.

Interested? Good idea, bad idea?

Somewhere in the desert…

A lost village

At the upcoming SAA in San Fracisco, Andrew Rheinhard and I are participating in a forum on digital public archaeology. Our piece, ‘Playing Pedagogy: Videogaming as site and vehicle for digital public archaeology’ is still in a process of becoming. Our original abstract:

While there is an extensive literature on the pedagogical uses of video games in STEM education, and a comparitvely smaller literature for langagues, literature, and history, there is a serious dearth of scholarship surrounding videogames in their role as vectors for public archaeology. Moreover, video games work as ‘digital public archaeology’ in the ways their imagined pasts within the games deal with monuments, monumentality, and their own ‘lore’. In this presentation, we play the past to illustrate twin poles of ‘public’ archaeology, as both worlds in which archaeology is constructed and worlds wherin archaeological knowledge may be communicated.

We had initially thought to write a game to explore these ideas, and so our entire presentation would involve the session participants playing it. But writing games is tough. In fact, it would be hard for one to top the game made by Tara Copplestone for the 2014 Heritage Jam, ‘Buried’. However, another venue presents itself. Andrew recently proposed to the makers of No Man’s Sky that he be allowed to lead an archaeological expedition therein.

“What!” I hear you exclaim. Well, think of it like this. We’re used to the idea of reception studies, of how the past is portrayed in games, movies, novels. We’re also used to the idea of games as being the locus for pedagogy, or for persuading, or making arguments. What happens then, in a game like No Man’s Sky, where the entire world is generated algorithmically from a seed? That is, no human designs it: it emerges. Rather like our own universe, eh? Such procedural games are quite common, though none perhaps are as complex in their world building as Dwarf Fortress (which evolves not just the world, but also culture & individual family/clan/culture lineages!)

What then does such  xenoarchaeology look like? How does that intersect with digital public archaeology? Well, if archaeological method has any truth to it, then in these worlds we might be faced with something profoundly alter, something profoundly different (which also accounts for why the writers of Star Trek placed such stock on archaeology)

We’ve got a month to sort these thoughts out. But it was in this frame of mind that I started thinking what archaeology in Minecraft would look like, could look like, and what it might find. Not in Minecraft worlds that have been lovingly built from scratch by a human. No, I mean the ones grown from seeds. It’s quite interesting – since no computational process is actually truly random, if you know the seed from which all calculations and algorithms are run, you can recreate the exact sequence that gives rise to a particular world (in this, and indeed in all, computational simulations). There is quite a thriving subculture in Minecraft it turns out that share interesting seeds. And so, as I searched for seeds that might prove fertile for our talk, I came across ‘Double Village’ for Minecraft 1.64. (See method 5 for spawing worlds from seeds). If you’ve got Minecraft 1.64 you too can join me on my expedition to a strange –desert land….

—-

The texts all say the same thing. Set the portal to ‘Double Village’ and soon you’ll find the exotic and lost desert villages. I put on the archaeotrancerebretron, grabbed my kit bag, and gritted my teeth. My companions all had theirs on too. We stepped into the charmed circle…

Sherlock Holmes, Samuel Vimes, and Archaeological Equifinality

Sherlock:

How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?

Sam Vimes:

… he distrusted the kind of person who’d take one look at another man and say in a lordly voice to his companion, ‘Ah, my dear sir, I can tell you nothing except that he is a left-handed stonemason who has spent some years in the merchant navy and has recently fallen on hard times,’ and then unroll a lot of supercilious commentary about calluses and stance and the state of a man’s boots, when exactly the same comments could apply to a man who was wearing his old clothes because he’d been doing a spot of home bricklaying for a new barbecue pit, and had been tattooed once when he was drunk and seventeen and in fact got seasick on a wet pavement. What arrogance! What an insult to the rich and chaotic variety of the human experience!

[…]

The real world was far too real to leave neat little hints. It was full of too many things. It wasn’t by eliminating the impossible that you got at the truth, however improbable; it was by the much harder process of eliminating the possibilities.

For my money, Sam Vimes is the better detective. Here he has nailed the concept of equifinality, the idea that many different paths could lead to the evidence that we find. Vimes would make a good archaeologist. The problem, though, for archaeology (or history, or anthropology, or… or… or…) is that we don’t really grapple with the idea of equifinality in our writing. This is why history, archaeology, digital humanities, needs an experimental mind set. Through experimentation, we can whittle down the possibilities. Scott Weingart has an excellent post on this very issue, through analogy with astronomy:

Astronomers and historians both view their subjects from great distances; too far to send instruments for direct measurement and experimentation […] historians are still stuck looking at the past in the same way we looked at the stars for so many thousands of years: through a glass, darkly. Like astronomers, we face countless observational distortions, twisting the evidence that appears before us until we’re left with an echo of a shadow of the past. We recreate the past through narratives, combining what we know of human nature with the evidence we’ve gathered, eventually (hopefully) painting ever-clearer pictures of a time we could never touch with our fingers.

In which case, what we need is a laboratory for running different micro might-have-beens (I distrust uber-do-everything-social-models, because with so many moving parts, how the hell do you know what’s going on?). Fortunately, Scott and I have just published one over in the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory(It will be part of a special issue on archaeological networks analysis; but JAMT does a thing called ‘online first’, so you can see articles before they’re pulled into a particular issue.)

The Equifinality of Archaeological Networks: an Agent-Based Exploratory Lab Approachhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10816-014-9230-y.

The agent based model itself is available on figshare at http://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.92953.

 

In this article using this agent based model, we examine a theory of Roman economic history; we work out the kinds of generative processes for networks such a vision of the Roman economy might use; we model these; and we compare with known archaeological networks. More or less; you’ll have to read it for all the nitty gritty. Happily, if you’re paywalled-out, here’s a pre-print (the open access fee for Springer is $3000 US !!!! and I ain’t got that kind of cash – but that’s the subject for a post for another day).

Abstract

When we find an archaeological network, how can we explore the necessary versus contingent processes at play in the formation of that archaeological network? Given a set of circumstances or processes, what other possible network shapes could have emerged? This is the problem of equifinality, where many different means could potentially arrive at the same end result: the networks that we observe. This paper outlines how agent-based modelling can be used as a laboratory for exploring different processes of archaeological network formation. We begin by describing our best guess about how the (ancient) world worked, given our target materials (here, the networks of production and patronage surrounding the Roman brick industry in the hinterland of Rome). We then develop an agent-based model of the Roman extractive economy which generates different kinds of networks under various assumptions about how that economy works. The rules of the simulation are built upon the work of Bang (2006; 2008) who describes a model of the Roman economy which he calls the ‘imperial Bazaar’. The agents are allowed to interact, and the investigators compare the kinds of networks this description generates over an entire landscape of economic possibilities. By rigorously exploring this landscape, and comparing the resultant networks with those observed in the archaeological materials, the investigators will be able to employ the principle of equifinality to work out the representativeness of the archaeological network and thus the underlying processes.

 

A Digital Archaeology of Digital Archaeology: work in progress

Ethan Watrall and I have been playing around with data mining as a way of writing a historiography of digital & computational archaeology. We’d like to invite you to play along.

We’ll probably have something to say on this at the SAA in April. Anyway, we’ve just been chugging along slowly, sharing the odd email, google doc, and so on – and a monstrous huge topic model browser I set up. Yesterday, an exchange on twitter took place that prompted us to share those materials.

This prompted a lot of chatter, including:

and this:

So let’s get this party started, shall we?

~o0o~

While there’s a lot of movement towards sharing data, and open access publications, there’s also this other space of materials that we don’t talk about too much – the things we build from the data that we (sometimes) share that enable us to write those publications we (sometimes) make open access. This intermediate stage never gets shared. Probably with good reason, but I thought given the nature of digital work, perhaps there’s an opportunity here to open not just our research outputs & inputs, but also our process to wider participation.

Hence this post, and all that follows.

~o0o~

Here’s what I did. I scoured JSTOR’s DFR for anglophone journals, from 1935 onwards (full bibliography right here: http://graeworks.net/digitalarchae/20000/#/bib. Then I fitted various topic models to them, using Andrew Goldstone’s dfr-topics which is an R package using MALLET on the bag-of-words that DFR gives you, running the result through Andrew’s dfr-browser (tag line: “Take a MALLET to disciplinary history!”).

The results can be viewed here. Like I said, this is the middle part of an analysis that we’re sharing here. Want to do some historiography with a distant reading approach? We’d love to see what you spot/think/observe in these models (maybe your students would like a go?) In which case, here’s an open pad for folks to share & comment.

Why would you bother? Well, it occurred to me that I’ve never seen anyone try to crowdsource this step of the process. Maybe it’s a foolish idea. But if folks did, and there was merit to this process, maybe some kind of digital publication could result where all contributors would be authors? Maybe a series of essays, all growing from this same body of analysis? Lots of opportunities.

Stranger things have happened, right?

~o0o~

Just to get you going, here are some of the things I’ve noticed, and some of my still-churning thoughts on what all this might mean (I’ve pasted this from another document; remember, work in progress!):

remembering that in topic modeling, a word can be used in different senses in different topics/discourses (thus something of the semantic sense of a word is preserved)

tools used:

-stanford tmt for detailed view on CAA (computer applications in archaeology)

-mimno’s browser based jslda for detailed view of correlations between topics (using CAA & IA) (internet archaeology, only the open access materials before it went fully OA in October 2014)

-Goldstone’s dftropics for R and dfrbrowser to visulaize 21 000 articles as entire topic model

-same again for individual journals: AJA, JFA, AmA, CA, JAMT, WA

——-

stanford tmt of caa 1974 – 2011

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 3.43.49 PM

-no stoplist used; discards most prominent and least likely words from the analysis

-its output is formatted in such a way that it becomes easy to visualize the patterns of discourse over time (MALLET, the other major tool for doing topic modeling, requires much more massaging to get the output in such a form. The right tool for the right job).

-30 topics gives good breakdown; topic 26 contains garbage (‘caa proceedings’ etc as topic words)

In 1974, the most prominent topics were:

topic 1 – computer, program, may, storage, then, excavation, recording, all, into, form, using, retrieval, any, user, output, records, package, entry, one, unit

topic 6: but, they, one, time, their, all, some, only, will, there, would, what, very, our, other, any, most, them, even

topic 20: some, will, many, there, field, problems, may, but, archaeologists, excavation, their, they, recording, however, record, new, systems, most, should, need

The beginnings of the CAA are marked by hesitation and prognostication: what *are* computers for, in archaeology? There is a sense that for archaeologists, computation is something that will be useful insofar as it can be helpful for recording information in the field. With time, topic 1 diminishes. By 2000 it is nearly non-existent.  The hesitation expressed by topics 6 and 20 continues though. Archaeologists do not seem comfortable with the future.

Other early topics that thread their way throughout the entire period are topics 5, 2, 27 and 28:

Topic 5: matrix, units, stratigraphie, relationships, harris, unit, between, method, each, attributes, may two diagram, point, other, seriation, one, all, stratigraphy, sequence

Topic 2: area, survey, aerial, north, features, sites, region, located, excavation, river, areas, during, field, its, large, project, south, water, over, fig

Topic 27: sites, monuments, heritage, national, record, management, cultural, records, development, systems, england, database, english, its, survey, new, will, also, planning, protection.

Topic 28: museum, museums, collections, project, national, documentation, all, database, archives, about, archive, objects, sources, documents, university, text, our, also, collection, reports.

These topics suggest the ‘what’ of topic 1: how do we deal with contexts and units? Large surveys? Sites and monuments records and museum collections? Interestingly, topics 27 and 28 can be taken as representing something of the professional archaeological world (as opposed to ‘academic’ archaeology).

Mark Lake, in a recent review of simulation and modeling in archaeology (JAMT 2014) describes various trends in modeling [discuss]. Only topic 9 seems to capture this aspect of computational/digital archaeology:

model, models, social, modeling, simulation, human, their, between, network, approach, movement, networks, past, different, theory, how, one, population, approaches, through

Interestingly, for this topic, there is a thin thread from the earliest years of the CAA to the present (2011), with brief spurst in the late 70s, and late 80s, then a consistent presence throughout the 90s, with a larger burst from 2005-2008. Lake characterizes thus…. [lake]. Of course, Lake also cites various books and monographs which this analysis does not take into account.

If we regard ‘digital archaeology’ as something akin to ‘digital humanities’ (and so distinct from ‘archaeological computation’) how does it, or does it even, appear in this tangled skein? A rough distinction between the two perspectives can be framed using Trevor Owens meditation on what computation is for. Per Owens, we can think of a humanistic use of computing as one that helps us deform our materials, to give us a different perspective on it. Alternatively, one can think of computing as something that helps us justify a conclusion. That is, the results of the computation are used to argue that such-a-thing is most likely in the past, given this model/map/cluster/statistic. In which case, there are certain topics that seem to imply a deformation of perspective (and thus, a ‘digital archaeology’ rather than an archaeological computation):

topic 03: cultural, heritage, semantic, model, knowledge, systems, web, standards, ontology, work, domain, conceptual, different, crm, between, project, based, approach

topic 04: knowledge, expert, process, its, artefacts, set, problem, different, concepts, human, systems, but, they, what, our, scientific, about, how, all, will

topic 07: project, web, digital, university, internet, access, online, service, through, electronic, http, european, technologies, available, public, heritage, will, services, network, other

topic 14: virtual, reality, museum, public, visualization, models, reconstruction, interactive, museums, multimedia, heritage, envrionment, scientific, reconstructions, will, computer, technologies, environments, communication

topic 29: gis, spatial, time, within, space, temporal, landscape, study, into, social, approaches, geographic, applications, approach, features, environmental, based, between, their, past

Topic 3 begins to emerge in 1996 (although its general discourse is present as early as 1988).  Topic 4 emerges with strength in the mid 1980s, though its general thrust (skepticism about how knowledge is created?) runs throughout the period. Topic 7 emerges in 1994 (naturally enough, when the internet/web first hit widespread public consciousness). Should topic 7 be included in this ‘digital archaeology’ group? Perhaps, inasmuch as it also seems to wrestle with public access to information, which would seem not to be about justifying some conclusion about the past but rather opening perspectives upon it. Topic 14 emerges in the early 1990s.

Topic 29, on first blush, would seem to be very quantitative. But the concern with time and temporality suggests that this is a topic that is trying to get to grips with the experience of space. Again, like the others, it emerges in the late 1980s and early 1990s. [perhaps some function of the personal computer revolution..? instead of being something rare and precious -thus rationed and only for ‘serious’ problems requiring distinct answers – computing power can now be played with and used to address less ‘obvious’ questions?]

What of justification? These are the topics that grapple with statistics and quantification:

Topic 10: age, sites, iron, settlement, early, bronze, area, burial, century, one, period, their, prehistoric, settlements, grave, within, first, neolithic, two, different

Topic 11: pottery, shape, fragments, classification, profile, ceramics, vessels, shapes, vessel, sherds, method, two, ceramic, object, work, finds, computer, fragment, matching, one

Topic 13: dating, radiocarbon, sampling, london, dates, some, but, betwen, than, e.g. , statistical, chronological, date, there, different, only, sample, results, one, errors

Topic 15: landscape, project, study, landscapes, studies, cultural, area, gis, human, through, their, its, rock, history, historical, prehistoric, environment, our, different, approach

Topic 17: sutdy, methods, quantitative, technqiues, approach, statistical, using, method, studies, number, artifacts, results, variables, two, most, bones, based, various, analyses, applied

Topic 19: statistical, methods, techniques, variables, tiie, statistics, density, using, cluster, technique, multivariate, method, two, nottingham, example, principal, some, university

Topic 21: model, predicitve, modelling, models, cost, elevation, viewshed, surface, sites, gis, visibility, van, location, landscape, areas, one, terrain, dem, digital

topic 23: image, digital, documentation, images, techniques, laser, scanning, models, using, objects, high, photogrammetry, methods, model, recording, object, surveying, drawings, accuracy, resolution

topic 24: surface, artefact, distribtuion, artefacts, palaeolithic, materials, sites, deposits, within, middle, area, activity, during, phase, soil, processes, lithic, survey, remains, france

Macroscopic patterns

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 3.45.25 PMThis detail of the overall flow of topics in the CAA proceedings points to the period 1978 – 1983 as a punctuation point, an inflection point, of new topics within the computers-and-archaeology crowd. The period 1990-2011 contains minor inflections around 1997 and 2008.

1997-1998

1990-2011

In terms of broad trends, pivot points seem to be the late 70s, 1997, 2008. Given that our ‘digital archaeology’ themes emerge in the late 90s, let’s add Internet Archaeology to the mix [why this journal, why this time: because of the 90s inflection point? quicker publication schedule? ability to incorporate novel outputs that could never be replicated in print?]. This time, instead of searching for topics, let’s see what correlates with our digital archaeology topics. For this, David Mimno’s browser based LDA topic model is most useful. We run it for 1000 iterations, and find the following correlation matrix.

[insert discussion here]

http://www.graeworks.net/digitalarchae/mimno/jslda.html?docs=caa_and_intarch.txt&stoplist=en.txt&topics=30

-1000 iterations. Your 1000 iterations will be slightly different than mine, because this is a probablistic approach

– the browser produces csv files for download, as well as a csv formatted for visualizing patterns of correlation as a network in Gephi or other network visualization software.

-stop list is en, fr, de from MALLET + archaeology, sites, data, research

-running this in a browser is not the most efficient way of doing this kind of analysis, but the advantage is that it allows the reader to explore how topics sort themselves out, and its visualization of correlated topics is very effective and useful.

-note word usage. Mimno’s browser calculates the ‘specificity’ of a word to a topic. The closer to 1.0, the closer the word is distributed only within a single topic. Thus, we can take such words as being true ‘keywords’ for particular kinds of discourses. [which will be useful in exploring the 20000 model]. “Computer” has a specificity of 0.61, while “virtual” has a specificity of 0.87, meaning that ‘computer’ is used in a number of topics, while ‘virtual’ is almost exclusively used in a single discourse. Predicitve has a specificty of 1, and statistical of 0.9.

In the jsLDA model, there are three topics that deal with GIS.

topic 19, gis landscape spatial social approach space study human studies approaches

topic 18, database management systems databases gis web software user model tool

topic 16, sites gis landscape model predictive area settlement modelling region land

The first, topic 19, seems to correspond well with our earlier topic that we argued was about using GIS to offer a new perspective on human use/conception of space (ie, a ‘digital’ approach, in our formulation). Topics 18 and 16 are clearly about GIS as a computational tool. In the correlation matrix below, blue equals topics that occur together greater than expected, while red equals less than expected; the size of the dot gives an indication of how much. Thus, if we look for the topics that go hand in hand with topic 19, the strongest are topic 16 (the predictive power of GIS), and topic 10 (social, spain, simulation, networks, models).

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 5.28.47 PMThe ‘statistical, methods, techniques, artefact, quantitative, statistics, artefacts’ topic is positively correlated with ‘human, material, palaeolithic’, ‘time, matrix, relationship’, and ‘methods, points, point’ topics. This constellation of topics is clearly a use of computation to answer or address very specific questions.

-in jslda there’s a topic ‘database project digital databases web management systems access model semantic’ – positively correlated with ‘publication project electoric’, ‘text database maps map section user images museum’, ‘excavation recording’, ‘vr model’,  ‘cultural heritage museum’, ‘italy gis’, ‘sites monuments record’ [see keys.csv for exact label]. These seem to be topics that deal with deforming our perspectives while at the same time intersecting with extremely quantitative goals.

So far, we have been reading distantly some 40 years of archaeological work that is explicitly concerned with the kind of archaeology that uses computational and digital approaches. There are punctuation points, ‘virages’, and complicated patterns – there is no easy-to-see disjuncture between what the digital humanists imagine is the object of using computers, and their critics who see computation as positivism by the back door. It does show that archaeology should be regarded as an early mover in what has come to be known as ‘the digital humanities’, with quite early sophisticated and nuanced uses of computing. But how early? And how much has archaeological computing/digital archaeology permeated the discipline? To answer these questions, we turn to a much larger topic model

Zoom Out Some More

Let’s put this into a broader context. 24 journals from JSTOR were selected for both general coverage of archaeology and for regional/topical specialities. The resulting dataset contains 21000 [get exact number] articles, mostly from the past 75 years (a target start date of 1940 was selected for journals whose print run predates the creation of the electronic computer, thus computer = machine and not = woman who computes). 100 topics seemed to capture the range of thematic discourses well. We looked first for topics that seem analogous to the CAA & IA topics (CAA and IA were not included in this analysis because they are not within the JSTOR DFR database; Goldstone’s DFR Browser was used for the visualization of the topics). [better explanation, rationale, to be written, along with implications]. We also observe ‘punctuation points’ in this broader global (anglosphere) representation of archaeology that correspond with the inflection points in the small model, many trends that fit but also other trends that do not fit with standard historigoraphy of archaeology. We then dive into certain journals (AJA, JFA, AmA, JAMT) to tease these trends apart. Just what has been the impact of computational and digital archaeology in the broader field?

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 5.29.24 PMThe sillouhette in the second column gives a glimpse into the topic’s prevalence over the ca 75 years of the corpus. The largest topic, topic 10, with its focus on ‘time, made, work, years, great, place, make’ suggests a kind of special pleading, that in the rhetoric of archaeological argument, one always has to explain just why this particular site/problem/context is important. A similar topic was observed in the model fitted to the CAA & IAA [-in 20000 model, there’s the ‘time’ topic time made work years great place make long case fact point important good people times; it’s the largest topic, and accounts for 5.5%. here, there is one called ‘paper time work archaeologists introduction present important problems field approach’. it’s slightly correlated with every other topic. Seems very similar. ]

More interesting are the topics a bit further down the list. Topic 45 (data, analysis, number, table, size, sample) is clearly quantitative in nature, and its sillhouette matches our existing stories about the rise of the New Archaeology in the late 60s and early 70s. Topics 38 and 1 seem to be topics related to describing finds – ‘found, site, stone, small, area’; ‘found, century, area, early, excavations’. Topic 84 suggests the emergence of social theories and power – perhaps an indication of the rise of Marxist archaeologies? Further down the list we see ‘professional’ archaeology and cutlrual resource management, with peaks in the 1960s and early 1980s.

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 5.29.56 PM

Topic 27 might indicate perspectives connected with gender archaeology – “social, women, material, gender, men, objects, female, meaning, press, symbolic” – and it accounts for 0.8% of the corpus: about 160 articles.  ‘Female’ appears in four topics, topic 27, topic 65 (‘head, figure, left, figures, back, side, hand, part’ – art history? 1.4% of the corpus) topic 58 (“skeletal, human, remains, age, bone”- osteoarchaeology, 1.1% of the corpus), and topic 82 (“age, population, human, children, fertility” – demographics? 0.8% of the corpus).

[other words that would perhaps key into major trends in archaeological thought? looking at these topics, things seem pretty conservative, whatever the theorists may think, which is surely important to draw out and discuss]

Concerned as we are to unpick the role of computers in archaeology more generally, if we look at the word ‘data’ in the coprus, we find it contributes to 9 different topics (http://graeworks.net/digitalarchae/20000/#/word/data ). It is the most important word in topic 45 (data, analysis, number, table, size, sample, study) and in topic 55 (data, systems, types, information, type, method, units, technique, design). The word ‘computer’ is also part of topic 55. Topic 45 looks like a topic connected with statistical analysis (indeed, ‘statistical’ is a minor word in that topic), while topic 55 seems to be more ‘digital’ in the sense we’ve been discussing here. Topic 45 is present in 3.2% of the corpus, growing in prominence from the early 1950s, falling in the 60s, and resurging in the 70s, and then decreasing to a more or less steady state in the 00s.

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 5.30.34 PM

Topic 55 holds some surprises:

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 5.31.17 PM

The papers in 1938 come from American Antiquity volume 4 and show an early awareness of not just quantitative methods, but also the reflective way those methods affect what we see [need to read all these to be certain of this]

next steps

– punctuation points – see http://graeworks.net/digitalarchae/20000/#/model/yearly

major – 1940 (but perhaps an artefact of the boundaries of the study)

minor- early 1950s

minor- mid 1960s

major- 1976 (american antiquity does something odd in this year)

major- 1997-8

 

Breakage

I was at #seeingthepast these last two days (website). During one of the discussions, the idea of glitchiness of augmented reality was raised, and ways that this might intersect with materiality were explored. At one point, the idea of an app that let people break museum objects (the better to know them and how they were created) was mooted. (nb, I didn’t come up with the idea; it might have been Keri or Caitlin).

I tweeted:

and archaeologists on the twitterverse responded. (I then would periodically inform the symposium of the twitter discussion, which would then spark ruminations on the virtuality of conferences, but I digress):

On the way home, I had time to think about how this might work. If you’ve got the chops to make it happen, this is how I think ‘Breakage’ could go, so I’d love to see something like:

– photos uploaded from museum online catalogues, exhibitions, or databases (ones without good provenances)

– user can pan through these. When one catches the user’s fancy, the user selects it: and it shatters into pieces.

– each piece can then be examined; pieces highlights some aspect of the object inherent to the object (makers’ marks, artistic effects, clay fabric, whatever).

– touch again, and the pieces are put into a *possible* context. touch again, a different *possible* context. Show how different meanings could be understood if this was the actual context, and how it…. but damn. We don’t actually know what the piece’s real context was, so we don’t know anything.

– and then the image would be deleted from the user’s version of the app, never to be seen again, as if it has been looted anew.