archaeology 2.0

#248 Podcasting and Advertising

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If you're a regular listener of the CRM Archaeology Podcast you will start to notice some changes. I've mentioned the Archaeology Podcast Network before and the changes are related to us moving forward with that project. Here are the details.


We plan on revealing the Archaeology Podcast Network to the public during the week of December 1st. We have the domain, web hosting, and a website that we're working on. We'll be kicking off the network with five shows. They are:

At least four of the shows will be released on a regular schedule. It's my hope that the others will follow suit. We're always looking for other show ideas too. If you have an idea and want to host, or, just want to pass along the idea, email me at There are a lot of shows that could exist out there and we have only a few simple guidelines.


With our current list of shows, and the price I've settled on for hosting and editing, the current monthly cost of keeping this going is about $3000. Right now, everyone is working for free. They're taking time out of their schedules to bring our audience awesome archaeology programming that simply doesn't exist anywhere. In fact, these shows have NEVER existed. 

To aid in funding I could do what many other podcasts do and call on the usual suspects:, Netflix, Hulu, Audible, and several others. But, I want advertising that actually means something to our audience. I've contacted several major archaeology tool manufacturers and companies that benefit archaeologists. Some have responded and some have not. We need some big download numbers before some of them will talk to us. We did get one, though.

The Maya Research Program has already recorded some long-form ads that are interactive and engaging. The MRP has a field school that is perfect for learning the basics of archaeology so I really wanted them to come on and talk about it. Since they're funding for this quarter is already settled, they're planning to help sponsor us in Q1 2015. I wanted to go ahead and get some ads out there now, though, so people can start thinking about their program.

So, what advertisers would you like to see on the APN? We promise to only put on the minimum we need to operate and no more. None of us will get rich on podcasting, but, we need the funding to have the freedom to do this time consuming labor of love. We're all passionate about what we do and want to see it succeed.


There are donate and sponsor links over at the APN website. Right now, any money collected is being reserved for when we start normal operations of the APN and to cover some of the initial setup costs.

Let your employer know that this is a worthy resource and that you'd like to see them support it. For a small amount of money your employer can sponsor the APN for up to 6 months. We'll announce the sponsorship at the beginning and end of every show during the sponsorship period.

Thanks to all the people that have already donated! 

Contest: SAA2015

To help incentivize our listeners, I've decided to have a little contest, or, raffle of sorts. Donate EXACTLY $20.15 to the APN and you'll be entered into a drawing to have your conference fees paid for the Society of American Archaeology Annual Meetings in San Francisco next year! For each multiple of $20.15 you'll receive another entry. This contest has a $159 value! Hell, I'll even throw in a copy of my book, The Field Archaeologist's Survival Guide

We will run the contest until the end of January and announce the winner on the APN shows during the first week of February.

Now, get out there and tell your friends, colleagues, and employers about the Archaeology Podcast Network!

Thanks for reading and I'll see you in the field!!

#227 Printing Wikipedia or How to Think Backwards

I recently hear a report on NPR about a German company that’s trying to raise money to print Wikipedia into about 80 m of books. That’s about 1,000 volumes at about 1,200 pages each; over 1 million pages. This is so stupid it makes my brain hurt.

Some of the people interviewed by NPR thought it was a fun idea and others disagreed. Of course, the tech people they interviewed thought it sounded neat from an artistic standpoint, but, ultimately thought the idea flew in the face of what Wikipedia is all about.

A couple possible supporters were librarians. They have been traditionally cautious about using Wikipedia as a resource and thought that having a print version my make it more trustworthy, somehow. Right. That makes sense. Sounds like blogging. Call it a blog and it’s not taken seriously. Print that same entry in a book and suddenly it becomes relevant and citable.

Why is this an idea? Why is it even a thing? What’s the point? By the time the volumes are printed a significant portion of Wikipedia will have changed and new articles will have been created. So, I ask again, what’s the point?

The creators of the project want to draw attention to the volume of information that is available on Wikipedia. That I get. They say that maybe more people will use the resource if it’s also available in printed form. That I don’t get. The entire premise of Wikipedia is that it’s a flexible and changing resource. It’s constantly updated and constantly improved upon. How many encyclopedia companies are still in business? Not many. There’s a reason for that.

This idea has backwards thinking written all over it. The German print company is trying to appeal to people that don’t want to use the electronic version. They want to give others a chance to use the resource that might not have access to a computer or the Internet. I understand some of that, but, in the end you can’t hold everyone’s hand. Some people just aren’t going to be able to play.

I deal with this attitude in archaeology on a DAILY basis. So many company owners, and even younger staff members, are so resistant to new technology that they’ll make the old methods work at any cost. Usually the cost is time, money, and efficiency. Until that starts to cost them business, however, they seem OK with it.

Printing Wikipedia is about as smart as hand-writing a bunch of forms you’re just going to digitize anyway. Who does that? Oh, right. EVERYONE.

At least it doesn’t look like this project will get funded. At the time of this writing the Indiegogo campaign has 31 hours left and they’ve only raise $12,530 of their $50,000 goal.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the field!

#214 ArchAerial vs EVERYTHING ELSE

Disclaimer: This post has nothing to do with drone legislation and the use of drones in the United States. I’m just assuming that it will all work out and that people won’t be dicks about letting other people use drones for work purposes. I’m also hoping people will stop being so damn paranoid that someone is going to spy on them in their backyard. Most of us are not interesting enough to be spied on anyway. Chances are that if you are interesting enough for a drone attack, you’re doing something illegal. Enough of that rant…on to the post.

I saw a news article on Live Science about the use of drones supplied by ArchAerial for archaeological photography. The drones don’t seem expensive since, according to the founders:

"We use a lot of 3D-printed parts," founding member Ben Martin, 25, said. "It's really useful to be able to go from design to implementation within a few hours, which is something that wasn't possible until recently.”

ArchAerial also uses an open-source flight software. So, why are their drone packages so expensive? From the Live Science article:

“Right now ArchAerial is selling their archaeology drone kits for $3,800 and leasing them for three-month field projects for $1,800.”

My guess is that they are playing on the technological insecurities inherent in most archaeologists. Many archaeologists either don’t understand most technology or don’t choose to understand it. Either way, when something tech-related needs to be done we hire a specialist and get price-gouged along the way because there aren’t very many of them. If we would just take a little while to learn about new and emerging technologies we could save our projects a lot of money, academic and CRM included.

I understand that you get a lot with the ArchAerial package, including technical assistance. If, however, all you want to do is take some good photos of your excavation or site, there are way cheaper ways to do it.

AR Parrot Drone 2.0

This inexpensive ($300) drone would be great for a large number of projects. It’s a robust flying platform with a 720p HD camera on the front that you can record video on and take high-res JPEGs. There is also a downward-facing camera for taking shots straight down. It’s also used for navigation and stabilization. The Parrot Drone is controlled with a smartphone or tablet by watching the screen like a video game.

You can even program the Parrot Drone to fly a route with GPS accessory:

The Phantom costs more than the Parrot, but, you get greater range and a better camera. At 1000m, the range of the Phantom is more than you could ever need. If you go out of range, or, the radio stops working for some reason, the Phantom is programmed to use GPS to go back to its original location. That’s pretty cool.

Without the GoPro camera (buy it separately) you can get the Phantom for under $500.

There isn’t an onboard camera (see below) that ships with the Phantom. There is, however, a GoPro mount that you can use to attach the latest GoPro camera too. GoPro’s are great for HD video and high-res photos. The one downside, as compared to the Parrot Drone, is that you can’t see what’s on the camera. You have to either set it to record at take-off or set it to take pictures on an interval prior to take-off.

The Phantom 2 Vision. At $1200 you get the new Phantom 2. This quadcopter has the onboard camera but reduces the range of video transmission to 300m. You can still fly further, you just won’t be able to see what’s on the camera.


So, why is ArchAerial so expensive? As I said above, you get a lot more than just a quadcopter with your purchase or lease. You get support and education. If you don’t think you can figure this stuff out, or you don’t know a 13 year old that can show you, then this is a good option. If, however, you aren’t intimidated by technology that’s designed to be easy to use, go with one of the options above. Also, maybe their operating costs are really high and will come down as more orders come in. In the mean time, I’d go with something that’s already established and works very well for a fraction of the cost.

Either way, field survey will be a thing of the past as soon as we can develop software that can “see” artifacts. Don’t say it won’t happen because it will. It might take a few more decades, but, it will. Adapt and overcome.

Have you used any of the drones above for field survey or site photography? What about other options? Some people use kites, but, you don’t have as much control and there needs to be wind, of course. Comment below.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the field!

#209 DIGTECH Tablet Program


Still Using Paper? Your Clients Aren't 

We live in a modern age of tablet mobile computing, yet, many archaeology and environmental firms are still recording field data on paper forms and then spending countless hours digitizing them in the office. Now, there's an easier way!

Tech doesn't have to be expensive


Scientists, archaeologists included, employ a number of expensive recording instruments and licensed software to accomplish their goals. These products are great for what they need to do, but the cost is prohibitive for many cash-strapped CRM Firms. There are simpler and cheaper ways to incorporate digital technology into your projects, saving up to 80% of your time in the office, and 80% of your digitizations costs.

Tablet computers come in a variety of sizes and price points. You can get an Android tablet for as little as a couple hundred dollars or go high end and get an iPad for $500 to $800 dollars. DIGTECH is working on an all-in-one archaeology application, but, in the mean time there are some great, cost-effective, third-party applications that are easy to use. 


Much of the cost associated with setting up your tablet for field use comes when project managers who are inexperienced with tablets and setting up forms try to get them ready. At s billable rate of, say, $85 per hour, a project manager can spend several days trying to figure everything out. That could cost the firm over $2000!

DIGTECH personnel are experienced and familiar with both the Android operating system and Apple's iOS operating system. We can set up a tablet for field recording, complete with forms for as little as $200 total cost.

Check out the DIGTECH Tablet Program on our website. Call or email us with your needs and we’ll work out a solution that is right for you.

With a reasonable deposit, we would consider renting tablets and accessories on a limited basis. Call us and we’ll discuss the details and work something out.

Thanks for reading and we’ll see you in cyberspace!

#184 DIGTECH’s First Field Project

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The first field project for DIGTECH was only a couple days and my only crew member was my wife. It was fun and efficient, nonetheless. This was also the first time using the Samsung Galaxy Camera in the field.

The Project

This was a unique project. It’s an annual project and I’ve actually done it before. In fact, I was the last one to do it. It was the last project I did for my last company before they laid me off. Actually, they laid me off within 15 minutes of getting back to the office. I hadn't even unpacked my field gear yet. Luckily for them I’m supper efficient and had already completed the letter report. So, what is the project?

Figure: Arborglyph on one of the sites. Common amongst Basque sheepherders. 

There are three historic sites located on a mine’s property in northern Nevada. The sites are under the jurisdiction of one of the Forest Service offices here in Nevada. The Forest Service doesn’t want the sites damaged by mining activity or any other activity. So, to keep the mine honest they require an archaeologist to go out and take pictures of the sites on an annual basis.

When I did the project last year I was given a three-ring binder with the previous year’s letter report, the site records for the three sites, a map showing where the spots to take pictures were, and the photos from the year before. We walked around to each point, which were also on the GPS, matched up the photo orientation with the previous year’s photo, and took a picture. We also recorded the current GPS point coordinates.

It was somewhat frustrating trying to carry around that binder and having to flip through it and find the photos. It didn’t help that my company didn’t put the photos in order either. I’m not sure what order they decided to put them in but the photos, which were numbered P-1 through P-38, were in some sort of random order. That’s what happens when you have the office secretary do your photo pages. She doesn’t know what went on out there and just put them in in the order they are listed on the photo log. That was an on going problem at that company and no one seemed to care. I’d better not get off on that tangent or we’ll be here forever.

The Project - Digitally

This time out I had the information from last year and the year before, since they never bothered to check my personal computer where I had it stored. I created maps with the photo points in QGIS and then PDF’d them. I also had the previous photos as PDFs and the site records as PDFs.

As we approached each point on the GPS I would look at the photo on my iPad (caution: corporation being mentioned) and get the orientation just right. While I was doing that my wife was starting a new record in the photolog using the Momento App on the Samsung Galaxy Camera. She had already updated the form to reflect her initials and the site number so those were already entered. She didn’t have to do the date either because I had that set to automatically enter when you open a new record. After taking the picture right in the app she entered the description, orientation, coordinates, and photo number. It was easy to type on the back of the camera with her thumbs and she said that utilizing the words that the Android operating system automatically generates greatly increased her efficiency.

As we took photos I used iAnnotate on the iPad to check off the photos that we took both on the photo pages from last year and on the maps of the photo points for this year. It was a windy day but we didn’t have a single scrap of paper blow away, get dirty, or get ripped up in a binder. Awesome. Welcome to archaeology 2.0!

Importing Information

There are a number of ways to get the database out of the Momento App on the camera. You can export the database as a CSV file and then access that using a file manager app and by plugging the camera into the computer. You can also transfer that file to a micro SD card in the camera, pull out the card, and insert it into your computer. If you have an internet connection you can send the file and the photos to a Dropbox account, email, Evernote, an FTP server, or a variety of other services.

Figure: The merge form for photo pages. The page is a table and the lines are only there so you can see that. For the final form the lines are removed. Using a table ensures that everything is uniform and in its place.

Figure: The merge form for photo pages. The page is a table and the lines are only there so you can see that. For the final form the lines are removed. Using a table ensures that everything is uniform and in its place.

One problem with the Momento export is that it doesn’t export the photographs with the file. It just exports the file name it assigned to the photograph. The file name Momento asigns has nothing to do with the camera and includes the date and time. I had to get creative with my text import into the photopage word document I had set up.

I was using MS Word for the photopage. My template is essentially a table with a placeholder for the picture and cells down the right side with merge fields for the mail merge from the CSV file. In order to be able to insert the right picture I insert the photo name from the Momento database as well. I delete that after putting in the photo.

Since I use placeholders for the photos all I have to do is drag the photo in from the directory. The photos are already sized and have the appropriate outline. That’s the benefit of using a placeholder.

Lessons Learned

It looks like this method is going to work and saves a lot of time in the office. One advantage to merging from a CSV file is you can sort by any column first, then import. For example, you can sort by site number and move only one site at a time.

The camera is going to work out too. Probably any camera running the Android operating system will work. I chose the Samsung Galaxy Camera because of the large, easy to type on, screen on the back. Also, it takes amazing pictures.

Well, that’s it. If you use mail merge or have tried other Android cameras, let me know in the comments. If you think I’m an overstuffed jackass, let me know that too.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the field!


#183 Book Club, Second Try

OK. I posted back in #181 about a Google Hangout book club idea that I had. I asked for interested people to comment on the blog. Well, so far I’ve received a total of...ZERO comments! Help me figure out why.

I can think of a few reasons. First, and the most obvious, is that no one is interested in the book. That’s very much a possibility. I found the book at the Grand Teton National Park Visitor Center and didn’t know much about it. After reading the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads it seemed like a good book to read. Since I’m constantly busy and don’t often make time to read I thought I’d set a schedule and include others in on the discussion. Oh, and the forty or fifty blogs I read every week take up my time. Damn blogs! I’m into chapter three and so far it’s pretty good. I like reading history from an alternate perspective and not much is written about the European conquest from the Native American point of view.

Another reason for the lack of participation could be that people are just too busy during the summer. A number of my readers are students and students might not want to continue reading after a year of intense reading for school. On the other hand, a number of my readers are CRM archaeologists. They like to read all the time. But, they might not have access to a solid internet connection while in the field and feel they can’t participate.

I guess another reason could be that people don’t want to buy the book. It’s a few bucks and students are always strapped for cash. CRM archaeologists are notoriously broke as well. When you include shipping, assuming you’re still reading on paper, then the cost just increases.

A final reason could be that NO ONE READS THIS BLOG! Maybe all my page hits are just bots. Or Google. Well, that’s not it. 

Seriously though, I’d like to do a Google Hangout book club. So, if anyone wants to suggest a book to keep up with during the summer suggest one in the comments! As scientists and professionals we need to keep the reading up and read stuff constantly! Even if you are reading constantly right now it helps to discuss the book with others.

So, once again, suggest a book! Or, if you still want to do this one I can push back the Hangout date a few weeks. I originally scheduled the hangout for July 2nd but that can be moved. Let me know!

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the field!