Barriers to Participation in Archaeology Online
Within Public Archaeology in the UK, there has been a critical cultural shift towards awareness of the benefit of public engagement through the Internet. Recent developments have seen these media used for contributions of publicly-provided archaeological content; to foster online community identity, situated around the topic of archaeology and wider heritage issues; to crowd-source knowledge, and elicit financial support. Although the democratisation of online communication and production have stretched the boundaries of belonging through the use of participatory media, the Internet remains an exclusive enclave for those that can use it.
Critical observation of the extent and use of these technologies in the archaeological sector has been lacking. Issues of access to broadband, equipment and ICT skills exist; organisational commitment to online communications are patchy; policy, strategy and evaluation of participatory technologies in archaeology need careful consideration – inequalities propagated by the use of Internet technologies are nuanced and easily overlooked. Based on the results of my PhD research, this paper will examine the existing barriers to the use of the Internet in Public Archaeology. It will discuss how and why archaeology online is affected by the transference of advantage from respected institutions and elites in ‘real-life’, and discuss how issues of the digital divide, “socio-technical capital”, and archaeological authority impact access and production in ‘Public’ Archaeology online.
UCL Centre for Digital Humanities