Communicating, sharing problems and discussing them with other experts is so important. So, how do Digital and Computational Archaeologists communicate? Which avenues are being used?
Digital and computational skills are often learned informally, because at many universities courses are still missing. And similarly, Digital Archaeologists are often alone in their institutions. There are a number of avenues how people still connect with each other — quite often, you guess it, digitally. Read here my very personal collection of ways to meet other Computational Archaeology nerds or get the info you need:
Networks and SIGs
I am part of the Special Interest Group Scientific Scripting Languages in Archaeology (SIG SSLA), where we have monthly meetings to discuss papers or new developments. There is a Discord Channel Computational Archaeology to chat to people in a relaxed manner and the Rchaeology group, which has a Slack, a help channel and also a reading club. I can totally recommend joining such a network! I learn loads and it’s good to know you’re not alone with your struggles…
Papers and conferences
Well, there is of course the yearly conference of the Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA) organisation, which does not only exist internationally, but also has national chapters. They have their own conferences, web casts and similar events. CAA Germany and Flanders will have their Joint Chapter Meeting soon!
The Journal of the CAA is a great way to publish anything related to digital, computational or quantitative issues in archaeology. There it will be read by nerds for sure. Other journals that quite often focus on our topics are the Journal of Archaeological Science or Internet Archaeology.
Repositories for code belonging to papers
If you’ve written code for a paper, it is always a good idea, to publish it together with the paper. Some journals offer a supplementary repository for this. I recommend using an open repository, which will also give a DOI to your code, so it is easily citeable, e. g. OSF.io or zenodo.org. If you add the DOI of your code to your paper, I will totally go and have a look!
Yes, there is still a blogosphere. Well. You are here, so I guess you know. Here are a couple more blogs that might be interesting to you:
- Jeremy Hugget: https://introspectivedigitalarchaeology.com/
- Andre Costopoulos: https://archeothoughts.wordpress.com/
- Joe Roe: https://joeroe.io/
- Isaac Ullah: https://isaacullah.github.io/
I like blogs, because they are a space for elaborating on a point in a more relaxed way. It is neither an article, nor a Tweet… but something in-between? 😉
Though the discussion of these blog posts has moved from the blog to social media, such as Twitter, blogs a great tool for communication, such as project reports, short bits of tips and tricks or general ideas.
This is of course my personal view, but I find Twitter to be a maelstrom of information. There are a lot of hashtags like #Rstats, #Python, #ComputationalArchaeology, #DigitalArchaeology one may follow. A number of CAA chapters (@CAADE5, @CAA_Australasia, @caanlfl) and international CAA (@CAA_Int) are on Twitter. CAA SIGs (SIG-SSLA: @CAA_SSLA, SIG Data Dragons: @CAADataDragon) and other networks (@DigArchGroup, @Rchaeology1) as well! I especially like the archaepapers with code bot by Ben Marwick (@archpaperscode). It’s also a good idea to branch out into #DH Twitter. The #DigitalHumanities people often have similar issues as we do and are very creative. All in all the input on Twitter is huge and varied, and very much up to date!
Everyone knows that Youtube is full of tutorials, introductions and reviews of tools. But some are even very Computational Archaeology specific, see e.g. those by ISAAKiel, which is great! I am also a huge fan of recorded talks, like those on Recording Archaeology.
I fear the YouTube comments section and never look at it, so I don’t use it for discussion. YouTube is great for easy attainable information, though.
Now, Github. You may have wondered why I didn’t mention it with the code repositories for publications. While Github is absolutely great and I will list a few cool things about it in a second, it is not suitable for publishing code that goes with a publication. The problem is it will not give a DOI. So, use it and then release the version of the code you used for the paper to one of the other repos.
A study by Batiste and Roe 2021 could show that Github is by far the most used repository for archaeological free and open source software. It is often used for collaboration between different groups of developers. Users can comment on issues and the whole infrastructure supports open and version-controlled software development. It is a very powerful tool, but maybe a bit daunting for first time users. So, Clemens Schmid, Florian Thiery and I gave an introductory course on Git and Github at 2022’s CAA conference. You can check out all the material here.
Github can also be used to disseminate information in other ways. For R users I can recommend Ben Marwicks Cran Task View (CTV-Archaeoloy), which gathers papers who published R code, and R packages that might be useful for archaeologists. And a lot of people are using Github.io to create websites, books and tutorials, e.g. How To Do Archaeological Science Using R.
So, let’s talk!
To conclude: Once you know where to look, you can find many like-minded Digital and Computational Archaeologists “out there”. We are a communicative bunch, because we all know the feeling of sitting down alone in our (home) office and working on problems no one else at our institution cares for. We all know how difficult it can be to start out in the discipline. I can give testimony mostly to the R community, but I find people are generally very glad to help and to discuss any issue. So, please, join us! 🙂