• Engaged Cultural Heritage Development, Archaeology, and Digital Social Media

    The MSU Campus Archaeology Program was established to make sure that MSU serves as a good steward towards their cultural and archaeological resources. We are called in to mitigate before any tree is planted or building is built. Our primary goals include the research of MSU’s past, teaching students about archaeology, and engaged cultural heritage development within and around the MSU community. ¬†Over the past year, the MSU Campus Archaeology Program has been utilizing digital social media as a means for engaging communities in our archaeological research. Utilizing Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and blogging, we have been able to share the process of excavation, methodology, analysis, and interpretation with the communities that we serve.

    We consider traditional public archaeology, which typically consists of site visits and museum exhibits, to be lacking in a number of qualities that keep it from being “engaged”. Communities are rarely encouraged to take part, or even to see, the process that goes from excavation to presentation. Digital social media has allowed us to keep the public informed and engaged in what we are doing in a number of ways. Real-time excavation posting on Twitter and Facebook have allowed us to show and tell the decisions we make in the field and to share the discovery of artifacts with the public. Photos on Flickr and blog posts provide an opportunity to share our research methods, discuss our findings, and provide explanations about how we draw the conclusions that we do. Lastly, social media allows for all of these elements to be two-way: the community has the opportunity to engage with us at any moment. They can ask questions of us while we are in the field, post comments to Facebook, Flickr, or our Blog asking us questions about our decision making, or anything else that is on their mind regarding our topics.

    I am hoping to discuss our methods in how they may be applied to other areas of public, engaged academic services. Additionally, I am hoping that new ideas may be brought to the table about how these technologies may be utilized. The very recent popularity of location-based social media, for example, has sparked our interest. Our primary focus will be on using technology to engage communities in the development of their cultural heritage.

    In the meantime, please see what we’re up to by following, fanning, contacting, subscribing, or what have you!

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