Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Is it "Trolls" that is the Barrier to Public Interaction With the Portable Antiquities Scheme, or Something Else?

The British Museum's presentation at a recent conference places part of the the blame for there being "barriers" to interaction between the public and the outreach Scheme through the Internet on what they called "trolls" (that is archaeologists). They say the presence of "aggressively archaeological" contributions to the Forum of British archaeology's biggest outreach scheme meant they had to close it down.

In this regard it might be worth look at the network of Scheme 'blogs' that replaced it as a means of keeping the public (who pay for it) informed about what the fifty members of staff are doing to earn their keep. It's an eye-opener. Click on the link: Our regional and academic blogs and take a look at the PAS blogs section that replaces a public forum.

"Portable Antiquities Scheme blogs" last post December 6th, 2011 by Peter Reavill

The National Finds Advisers, last post March 15th, 2011 by Sam Moorhead

The Treasure Team, last post September 8th, 2011 by Ian Richardson

Central Unit blogs, last post January 7th, 2011 by Daniel Pett

PAS goes to Denmark and Danish metal detector finds, last posts December 20th, 2010 by Michael Lewis and December 21st, 2010 by Michael Lewis respectively

The Frome Hoard, last post October 18th, 2010 by Anna Booth.

Applied numismatic research, last post October 22nd, 2008 by Sam Moorhead

Nothing but an as, last post November 21st, 2008 by Philippa Walton.

Then the regional ones.

Kent has no blog

Essex does, but the last post ("Roman coin hoard excavated in Colchester Latest news from Philip Crummy at the Colchester Archaeological Trust") was May 25th, 2011 by Laura [the last post a year ago is by Philip Crummy who is not a PAS staff member].

Suffolk has no blog

Norfolk has no blog

Sussex, last post, "Another lovely swivel" August 24th, 2010 by Laura Burnett

Wiltshire, last post: "RSPB warden finds socketed axehead!" on July 15th, 2010 by Katie Hinds

Hampshire, last post "Festival of British Archaeology 2010" on July 27th, 2010 by R Webley.

The Isle-of-Wight (the big island) just three posts - none related to the Isle of Wight, or what the Scheme is contributing to public knowledge of its archaeology...

 Oxfordshire and West Berkshire, last post "Unusual Iron Age Brooch" July 14th, 2010 by Anni Byard (who also has a twitter feed mentioning her PAS work)

Somerset, last post "A Mark of the Economy" (cloth bale seal) March 24th, 2012 by Laura Burnett.

PAS in the Marches, last post: "Finds Day at a New Heritage Centre, Newport Shropshire" December 6th, 2011 by Peter Reavill.

The West Midlands Team last post: "Staffordshire Hoard Talks at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery" April 12th, 2012 by Angie Bolton.

Lincolnshire, last post: "Roman denarius of Julia Maesa reused as a finger ring bezel" November 9th, 2011 by Adam Daubney.

Northamptonshire, Last post: "Northants Review Part V: The Middle and Late Saxon periods", August 6th, 2008 by Steve Ashby ["Finally, finally, I get to the Vikings. This is where it gets interesting. But first we have to deal with the Middle Saxon period (c. AD 650-850). Some would say that the period between the end of the ‘Pagan’ period and the arrival of Scandinavian raiders and settlers is under-appreciated, and there is indeed much to learn about the archaeology of this period, and much that metal-detected data can offer"]. Yeah, right.

Lancashire and Cumbria, last post: "Another school session in Lancashire(and will I or won't I get 1000 finds for Lancashire and Cumbria on the database this year?)" December 6th, 2007 by Dot Bruns. We never learn, nor do we find out about the teaching project.

The North West, last post (May 22nd, 2012 by voakden) figures under Isle of Wight, previous post: "Trip to Cardiff!" November 29th, 2010 by Frances McIntosh.

Durham, only post is one called: "Hello world!", July 20th, 2010 by Daniel Pett ["Welcome to Portable Antiquities Scheme blogs. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!"]. Obviously the FLO up in Durham never did.

The North East, last post: "Bronze Age Spearhead from Co. Durham" March 17th, 2011 by Frances McIntosh

So basically of the 20 or so PAS run blogs keeping touch with the public, only TWO have posts made this year. Over a dozen have not been supplemented with any new information since 2010 or earlier.  This is what they call "outreach", they claim they've been doing this on metal detecting forums, but there is precious little of that going on there either. They have a self-gratulatory Facebook page, but there's not very much happening there either. It seems to me the main barrier to public interaction is nothing to do with archaeologists posting archaeological stuff on the web-resources connected to the PAS, but rather a singular lack of archaeological content on web-resources associated with that fifty-strong body of computer-literate "outreach" people with minimal web-presence.

Personally, this looks to me rather like "outreach in crisis". Is the PAS doing any longer what it was set up to do? 

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