Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Twitter-Tweet FLO is Outreaching to us

Again, a mouthy but uncomprehending PAS FLO insists on trying to 'discuss' the effects of artefact hunting on the archaeological record exclusively through the medium of Twitter. He justifies this by saying: 'I like Twitter and it's perfect for discussion as it prevents long rambling tangential arguments and forces clarity' but one may justifiably suspect that the real reason is that requiring his counterpart to squeeze any concept more complex than a FLO's "you done well" into a 280-character minitext gives him ample scope for stating he does not understand the point being made when it goes beyond that. This results in automatically frustrating the discussion, and incidentally clogging up one's twitter feed in serial explanations that get nowhere.

In fact, ian analysis of the long threads this produces shows clearly that the main problem of comprehension this individual seems to have is in relating individual tweets to the context provided by the tweets that have gone before in the same thread.
Paul Barford‏ @PortantIssues 18 godz.18 godzin temu W odpowiedzi do @FLODurhamFLO @HeneryIggins @HeritageAction
Obviously, understanding a 'discussion' conducted as short text statements within a 280 character limit requires both sides actually making the intellectual effort to see deeper cognitive context, and relationship between these texts. The context of your tweets seems clear to me.
That seems a nice parallel to the way that decontextualised artefacts (whether subsequently recorded by the PAS or not) cannot in any way be properly understood without their context and associations with other evidence. A coin on the database has as much information value as an isolated ten-word FLO-tweet. An inability to connect one tweet with a previous one in the same thread is an illustration of the difference between seeing just a single-event object-centred "past" (that of PAS/FLOs collectors) and a context-based one, relating individual facts in context-based analysis (that of the real archaeology).

It should be noted that this is the same PAS employee who starts off with the assumption that anything Heritage Action or myself say about Collection-Driven Exploitation of the archaeological record (anywhere?) is 'fake news' and 'lies' - which seems a rather awkward point from which to express a willngness to "discuss the issues".

Enough of this nonsense. I'll set out below some of the issues that we were discussing, combining texts that my collocutor attempted to scatter in multiple tweets in crisscrossing multiple threads. Perhaps setting them out like this will make the points easire for the reader to understand. Maybe we'll even get some comments below from the FLO so we can see where he's coming from better and see where his argument is leading.


Hougenai said...

Why is this FLO obsessed with defending 'Finds from the ploughsoil' when we all know detector manufacturers are chasing 'depth' as a selling point. The idea that detectorists are looking at the top few inches of deposits has been laughable for the last 20 years.

The other things that are casually glossed over are the issues like ; False reporting of findspots to validate ownership.
Searchers target known sites (often using archaeological sources to identify potentially productive areas) so coverage is neither universal nor randomised.
Recorder bias, ie individual FLO's are making decisions on what, or not, to record (after an initial selection and presentation for recording by the finder)(who knows what is going to be considered culturally significant in time. Perhaps the evidence of farming practice -the bits of implements casually binned- will be evidence of human activity from a period when climate allowed certain activity in geographic regions).

The list goes on, and in doing so undermines the suggestion that the database can be used for much more than a handy help for those wishing to identify items without contact with PAS-which is sort of shhoting themselves in the foot when it comes to increasing finds reporting.

On the point of follow up work-In some cases, usually involving treasure finds, PAS will employ a local company to conduct an 'archaeological' investigation(an interesting turn of phrase in itself when they are trying to convince us detecting is archaeology, citizen or not). In my experience this amounts to excavation of the square metre centered on the findspot and resulting in the documentaion of the hole the finders dug to remove the item(s)and nothing else.

Fair do's though, whether you agree with Mr Westwood or not, at least he is prepared to communicate to some degree, which is a small step forward.

Paul Barford said...

I agree with you that it is good that of the 38 people paid for by public money to 'do outreach', there is one FLO willing to put his head above the parapet and put his views forward for discussion.

I just wish it was somebody who was as good at listening with comprehension to another viewpoint as he is in trying to shout it down using short glib and poorly-considered 280 character soundbites. All you get from that is dumbdown. Particularly as I am pretty sure that when he visits metal detectorists he speaks to them in a totally different tone than the way he speaks to and of Heritage Action and myself. Calling our views "lies" and "fake news" from the outset seems to me no way for anyone with half a brain to go about "liaison" with anyone.

I have been trying to explain when he specifically said he "did not understand" why some of us hold that the PAS database is in fact mostly a record of some of the destruction rather than what it is claimed to be. It seems though that after two days of effort trying to show why somebody might say that, he's gone off still clinging to what they told him in FLO-school and probably did not even read what I wrote (called it "rambling"). It seems like the tekkies he's put off by "too many words" and would prefer dumbdown short tweets that only end up confusing him too (but then he can claim that's because I was too abstruse in my brevity). Cant win with flat-earthers. I can't see how he got a degree if a text longer than two A4 pages is offputting for him.

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