#223 SCA2014 Friday Reflections

It's the end of the first full day of the Society for California Archaeology Meeting 2014. Well, it's the end for me, anyway. Since I decided to come this conference only last week I didn't get a chance to pre-register and thus get a ticket for the infamous Silent Auction. Apparently, most people go because your $45 ticket gets you dinner and free beer. It would have been not only fun, but, a great networking opportunity. Ah well. I'll write a proposal instead.

Today's Sessions

DStretchThe morning started light with only one room having presentations. I saw a great one from Jon Harman about the rock art enhancement program, DStretch. I really want to talk to him tomorrow about some joint venture stuff with what I'm doing. I think apps like DStretch are the future and we need to use them to their fullest extent.

Here is a quick primer on DStretch. It's software that essentially uses algorithms to turn pictures of rock art from something we can't see to something we can. As pictographs (rock art with color and usually no pecking or etching) age the color drops out of the visible spectrum of light. DStretch brings it back into a spectrum we can see and the images are stunning. They even have a camera that will do it in the field.

Other good papers, I'm sure. I stuck around after DStretch for a couple more papers on California Rock Art, but, the convention center was having huge issues with the audio. The room was massive, too, so it was difficult to hear from the back. Mary Gordon gave a supposedly wonderful presentation on the current state of California Rock Art Research. I had a chance to speak with her at the California Rock Art Foundation desk in the book room later on, so, at least there's that.

Revised DPR Forms. In the afternoon I sat in on a discussion with the Office of Historic Preservation about future revisions to the commonly used site form in California, the DPR 523. There were some great suggestions regarding revisions to the paper forms. That's not what I was intrigued by, however.

The conversation eventually shifted to digital upload of the forms. They want to have a database that consultants and the like can upload site information to, rather than use the paper forms. There was a serious disconnect in the room, however, regarding the technology and the basic problem. Everyone agreed that uploading digitally was the way of the future and that we should strive for that. No one was discussing creating the information digitally in the first place, however. For a while I just sat there, iPad in hand, and took it all in. Eventually, I spoke.

I said I was using a $10 app on my iPad to record on DPRs and Nevada IMACS forms and that I'm helping other companies to do the same. There were some nods and approving looks, but, the conversation shifted back away from digital field recording rather quickly. That was a bit disheartening. Everyone knows we should be recording digitally, but, everyone seems to think it's an insurmountable problem right now. Well, it isn't. In fact, it's a simple problem to fix if you've spent four years thinking about it like I have. I just wish they'd let me help them through this initial stage rather than every company trying to independently reinvent the wheel. Give me a call! Operators (me) are standing by!

Archaeological Resources Committee. Since I was already in the room when the next presentation started I ended up just staying. It was a committee meeting of the Archaeological Resources Committee. They had some action items, one of which was defining experience and educational standards for PIs in California.

They started out by saying that even nail salons need a license, but, just about anyone can be an archaeologist. That's a problem. So, they're starting with the PI and are trying to set down some standards and get them adopted by other agencies.

One standard they set had to do with education. Right now, you have to either have an MA/MS or meet some equivalent requirements. The equivalent requirements clause ends on December 31, 2021. They figure they're being generous in giving people grandfathered in time to go out and get an MA. I think that's a little naive, since, what are the chances a grizzled old archaeologist without an MA is going to have the money and time to go back to school? Unless they can find a 1-year masters in CA then it's probably not going to happen. I agree with the standards, though. It's one more step to licensing, which, we also need to retain credibility and to improve the state of archaeological recording in California and beyond.


Of course, I stopped by the Left Coast Press both to see what they had representing my book. There was a cardstock poster representing it alongside other great books. Apparently, my book went to the printer last week and they're hoping it'll be done before the SAAs in Austin in a month (crap! a month?!?!). But, they're taking pre-orders. I don't think anyone has pre-ordered it, but, it's nice that it's an option.

Caryn, the LCP rep and my editor, also asked if I would be available for a book signing at the SAAs. That seems so weird. Of course I'll do it. It just seems unlikely that someone will want my autograph on the book since it's my first one and most people probably won't know me. It should be a good time, though. If you're in Austin, stop by during the signing and say hi so I don't feel left out!

Before I left for the day I purchased three books. Dirty Diggers: Tales from the Archaeological Trenches is a collection of stories curated from archaeologists by Paul Bahn and illustrated by Bill Tidy. I've read a few pages and it looks to be a fun, short, read.

Since I've potentially got a massive rock art project coming up next year I also picked up Introduction to Rock Art Research, Second Edition by David S. Whitley. Whitely is an expert on Rock Art and currently works for ASM Affiliates. It should be an educational read. I should get him on the podcast after I'm done.

Finally, I picked up the new book from Tom King and Claudia Nissley called  Consultation and Cultural Heritage: Let Us Reason Together. The book is a guide to consultation written for government agencies and project sponsors. So, not for those of us on the other side of the table, but, it helps to know what the other side is thinking and where they're coming from in any negotiation. I think it'll be extremely helpful and will contribute to my overall knowledge of the consultation process.


I met with, and talked to, so many good people today. In fact, I handed out all the business cards I brought! Good thing I have an iPad. During the last session of the day I used the business card I created in iDraw on the iPad and made it into a sheet of cards. Then, I uploaded it to Dropbox, accessed it with the HP Enterprise App on my iPhone, and digitally send it to the nearest FedEx Office. I went down there right after the last session and printed up a few sheets on glossy card stock, then, cut them out. Now, I have 48 shiny new business cards to hand out tomorrow. I love technology!

There were a number of times between last night and today that people came up to me saying how much they liked either my blog or the podcast. That is very humbling and I'm just glad that someone is getting useful information from them. That's the overall goal, anyway. If you see me at the conference, or at any conference, please come up to me and say hi. I want to know what's working, what's not working, and what you'd like to see on the blog and the podcast. It's for you, the archaeologists in the trenches, after all.

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