#259 Social Media Research

Hey everyone...I'm passing along a research study from a student in the Netherlands that is do a master's thesis on the use of blogs and social media in making archaeology accessible to the public. Fleur Schinning is wanting to know some demographics and some thoughts about the blog you're reading now. The questions, most anyway, are designed to ask you about THIS blog. So, answer honestly!

I'm chairing a session on social media and archaeology at the EAA in Glasgow this September and I've chair the Blogging Archaeology session at the SAAs for the past several years. I'm very interested in social media and it's power to make archaeology more widely understood by the public and to educate the public and professionals alike.

So, help Fleur out and take the survey. There is a link here:

If you want to see the questions first, there in THIS PDF.

Thanks for helping out and hopefully making blogging more effective and more productive.

One more thing...I haven't been on here much because most of my efforts go into the Archaeology Podcast Network. If you haven't checked it out, head over to the website and give it a listen. We have seven shows and more on the way.

Also, if you're in the San Diego area on July 25 come be and hear me talk about digital field archaeology in CRM at the monthly meeting of the San Diego Archaeological Society. The talk is at 8pm at the Los Penasquitos Ranch House: 12350 Black Mountain Rd., San Diego, CA 92129.

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

#245 I Would NOT Walk 1000 Miles For You

Long central Nevada walk.

Long central Nevada walk.

I've been having a discussion with a colleague about some upcoming fieldwork. The details so far include: 29,000 acres of pedestrian survey, no more than 400 sites recorded, and about two years to hand in the final draft of the report. We're allotting at most one and a half years for the fieldwork. 

My philosophy is to employ as many people for as long as possible. So, we could hire 50 techs to finish this in a couple months or we could use an outstanding crew of four and take up to eight months. Doing it with four people assumes an average daily acreage goal of at least 45 acres. From what I've been told about the terrain and the site density, 45 acres should be easy. 

My colleague wants to bring his own crew of superstars and knock out 80 to 120 acres per day and finish the project in four months. He wants to get on to the next thing. What would be legitimate reasons for finishing field work that quickly?

Why the Rush?

Maybe the company has a lot of projects and they need to get to the next ones as early as possible. Maybe there is a weather concern and the project has to be finished before winter. Does the client need the project finished quickly for some reason? There are a number of reasons why this insane schedule would have to be adhered to. This project is not subject to any of the ones I just listed. 

We have a ton of time, nothing really pressing on the horizon, and quite frankly, this project will make my crew and I plenty of money. 

Sometimes you have to sit back and ask yourself, as a manager or a PI, why did I get into this business? Was it to bang out as many survey miles as possible? Was it to do $2,000,000 in work every year and think of nothing else? My guess is no. 

However, it's possible that you've built your company to a point where you need $100k a month just to pay the bills and make payroll. I bet that was unintentional. When writing proposals, having a 10% win success rate is pretty good. But, sometimes you win several projects at one time and have to scramble and hire employees. Using a traditional business model, and archaeologists are nothing if not traditional, this usually means hiring new people. What do you do when the projects the new people are working on come to an end? You write more proposals. Now your wins start to add up and you need even more people. Before you know it you're too big to profit and are just trying to stay afloat. Enter: Lowballing. 


I've talked about lowballing on this blog and on various social media sites so I'm not going to go that much into it again. I'll just say that there are some "legitimate" reasons for lowballing. I put legitimate in quotes because in a perfect world there is really no good reason for it. However, if you're in a tough spot and need to make payroll, and, the projects just aren't rolling in, you might be tempted to bid a project at cost just to keep your people employed. I understand the thinking behind that. I just hope that companies that are bidding that way try to rethink their business practices and get themselves out of the situation they're in.

So, no, I won't work my crew to death just because I can. They aren't tools to be used and discarded when the job is done. They are people with lives and they need to be treated with respect. Try to remember that when you've underbudgeted your project, are short on time, and want to work your crew 12 hours a day. Someday you'll have to pay for your mistakes.

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

#3 Stop and Smell the Roses

On one of the beautifully brisk morning walks to the Convention Center in Sacramento for the SAAs my good friend Deanna D. (or maybe F. if DF gets his way) and I were looking for a coffee shop that I had stopped at the previous evening. The coffee shop is called Temple Coffee and Tea and is on 10th st. between J and K. When I first found the coffee shop I was walking south and saw the unique triangular facade, which was slightly angled towards me. When we were looking for the coffee shop the next morning we were walking the other direction. Since I'm not familiar with the streets of Sacramento I was a bit unsure as to where it was. When I thought I had the right street I turned down it but then stopped because I couldn't see the shop. It's facade was angled away from me.  We realized it was actually there and Deanna commented that it was all about perspective and that it, "makes you think about survey".  

I thought about that statement later and she is absolutely right.  Things always look different from even slightly different perspectives.  We have all experienced it.  On survey it can be difficult to see large land features until you get up on a high hill or rock outcrop and everything snaps into focus.  Just the other day I was recording a fairly large historic mining area that included a shaft, waste rock platform, lift house foundations, and a debris scatter.  Four of us were on that site for an entire day.  The next day, while I was looking at some diagnostic artifacts, my eyes adjusted to what I was seeing and a square platform snapped into view.  It was slightly cleared with a small berm of rocks around the edge. The area was completely overgrown with shadscale and greasewood but it was unmistakable once I saw it.

I started to look around and saw another cleared platform about 10 m away.  Overall we found about six new features just because we changed our perspective and took a second (third, fourth) look.  

(In case you are wondering, the two platforms I initially saw were likely tent platforms for short term occupation and the others turned out to be a carpentry area and other indeterminate functional areas.)

Nearly every archaeologist, especially CRM archaeologists, have done a linear survey at one time or another.  How often have you been with a crew chief that is concerned more with miles covered than what's on the ground?  I know I've been in that situation.  They want to walk fast and cover as much ground as possible.  Aside from getting your Master's degree and saying, "I'll never do that to my crew," there isn't a whole lot that you can do.  

So, I say, sometimes you just have to turn around.  Sometimes you have to change your perspective.  Sometimes you have to stop and smell the roses.  You might just find something interesting.