Saturday 29 January 2022

Interesting.... and Disturbing


In a paper about a year ago, Sam Hardy pointed out how metal detecting forums in Ukraine seem to have been used to create false identities. It's plausible. I've noticed something too along these lines. If a FLO tweets a picture of a coin of Magnus the Wifebeater or any other monarch on social media and nerdily says 867 years ago "on this day" the guy was born, not a lot happens. Probably because nobody gives a tinkers. It's irrelevant public-funded dumbdown. 

If however there is a metal detecting related post that gets a little more controversial (a rally, Treasure reward squabble etc) a little discussion thread starts to develop. Among comments by the usual culprits (most archaeologists don't give a tinkers about this and stay silent) there always are some posters making some inflammatory remark. It's worth looking at the account as a whole. All too often (as happened to me just now) you find it is somebody with a very ambiguous description of who they are and their sole activity seems to be retweeting material if a rather eclectic manner, recipes, memes, some article about politics, a music video. But no actual content of their own. It seems to me that these are candidates for being considered bot accounts. And it is interesting (given the obsession of conservatives in general and the far right with culture) to see how the metal detecting debate is one of the topics their AI is searching for. 

Of course it is easy to say "don't feed the trolls", but on the other hand, what people read on social media (whether or not it is generated by trolls/bots) does influence their thought. That's why bots are there, to promote a picture (or divisive pictures), to influence not individuals but societies. The PAS and most of the major archaeological bodies shy away from an active use of social media to inform and challenge preconceptions and misdirected thinking about archaeology.  Some individuals do it, and get a lot of aggro for it (see recently Howard Williams, 'Against Racist and Dangerous Pseudoarchaeological Conspiracies: 'Celtics' and 'Rome wasn't Real'; or Flint Dibble over that wonky Atlantis show) . I get rather a lot of nastiness from certain PAS FLOs for questioning British policies of antiquities collecting and trade. But it seems to me that these things do need answering, they do need challenging. If archaeologists do not start speaking up more for archaeology, and what makes it different from hare-brained (or manipulating and deceiving) pseudo archaeology, who will, and how will the public know? Osmosis?

No comments:

Creative Commons License
Ten utwór jest dostępny na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa-Bez utworów zależnych 3.0 Unported.