Transition to the New Media Platforms in Archaeology
Just as 15th century Andean culture underwent a dramatic shift when forced to switch from khipu binary coding system to alphabetical writing, the field of archaeology is currently experiencing the introduction of a new medium of knowledge storage and distribution: electronic publishing. Among the archaeological and anthropological community, a heated debate over open access raises questions about how internet tools should affect publishing options, procedures, and requirements. The article explores the dilemma of sharing the archaeological data with general public and the influence of such sharing of information on the restricted-access academic publishing. The paper conducts a case study of Khipu Database Project, the database which contains the information that was previously reserved to a limited number of museums and scholars.
The research discusses the results of this unprecedented sharing of knowledge that has been active for the past 7 years and has been repetitively supported and funded by National Science Foundation. Additionally, the paper discusses how new media such as Twitter and Facebook facilitate communication between archaeologists, educate the general public about scientific research, and attract non-academic audiences to participate in dialogue around the discipline of archaeology. The popularization and accessibility of archaeological research creates a scientific dilemma over how to maintain quality of published material and simultaneously engage the public in archaeology. Just like the khipu keepers of the 15th century, archaeologists today are faced with the challenge of adapting to the new channels of communication without compromising the precision of their record-keeping.
Texas State University-San Marcos