image1When I first signed up for classics and archaeology classes, I thought most of my time would be playing in the dirt, teaching, hanging out in libraries and the occasional conferences.  If you had asked me about the social side to academia, I probably would’ve laughed, maybe even made a joke about the Archaeologist’s cocktail/mosquito repellent (that would be a gin and tonic) but I probably would never have mentioned digital and social media as a fundamental aspect to archaeology.
With smart phones and even smarter people, everything has changed.  A whole world of archaeology and cultural heritage preservation has unfolded and opened so that archaeology and cultural heritage are now more than ever present and available for anyone to explore– without or without the degree.   And it’s a lot of fun!  Over the past year or so that I jumped into the world of social media, I’ve seen some amazing things (forgotten archaeology in Iran, an #emptymet, where photographers are exploring an empty Metropolitan Museum of Art and sharing).  And I’m able to see and make connections between heritage issues throughout the world, particularly the difficulties we face in archaeology and the preservation of heritage in new, dynamic formats that weren’t even thinkable two years ago.

The stereotypical classics conference is anything but… discussions bring in contemporary themes in ancient issues and conferences are accessible anywhere via live stream or simply by following a hashtag or twitter account like the Classical Association’s recent conference.  So many of the great conversations and discussions, interactions and friendships have been building up online- and not just with academics, but also conservators and non profits and NGOs, bloggers, photographers, and anyone out there that is just interested in learning about the past. I’ve particularly enjoyed seeing people’s perspectives on history, heritage, archaeology and art when they have entirely different backgrounds from mine.  It’s really opened up my mind- and leaves me hungry for more.

Cultural heritage and social media have a similar purpose: to connect people together for discussion/preservation of an idea.  With that in mind, I thought it would be great to theme the AIRC’s 2013 Unlisted conference  “Conversation for Conservation” where we discuss the role of social media in cultural heritage. We’ve invited some great people including photographers Sam Horine and Nicolee Drake, and documentary filmmaker Brent Huffman.  We want everyone to come, so if you are in Rome on April 18, join us– and if you can’t be here but still want to participate, please tune in at 4pm Rome (10 am EST) on April 18 for our conversation. For more details, please follow this Unlisted link.