Huggert and Costopoulos take an introspective look at archaeology focusing on the effects digital technology has on the field. This discussions revolves around ideas of technology fetishism, anti-technology fetishism and the nature of digital archaeology vs archaeology conducted digitally. All questions are ones of reflexivity and how, if at all, the processes of technology affect the processes and outputs of archaeology. Huggert argues for an examination of these tools while Costopoulus argues that these tools can be explored to a fault where “self-awareness can lead to a level of self-consciousness such that actions become frozen by”(Costopoulus, 2016). Both discuss the nature of digital archaeology in the wider field of archaeology.
I agree with Huggert in a sense that reflexivity and introspection are extremely important factors to consider when interacting with any discipline. This debate of reflexivity and the effects of tools on observation and its process have had a history of contention in anthropology. John Collier writes about reflexivity as “changes brought about by the very presence of the observer”(Collier, 1986) and with this the photographers role in morphing perception. The same could be said for the shifted and selected view that technology might present in archaeology as Huggert states “we exist in archaeological ‘filter bubbles’ that have been knowingly or unwittingly created for us”(Huggert, 2016). The process of observing and methods for observation affect the outcome.
I also disagree with Huggert however as I don’t feel it is just the presence of “digital technology” that causes the distortion. Huggert titled a paragraph in his article “A Manifesto for an Introspective Digital Archaeology “ “The Ghost in the Machine” and to me the title not the content spoke to our relationship with technology and the discourse existing within a Cartesian division. We view ourselves and technology as different entities. Tim Ingold explores in his writings our relationship with technology how no such thing as technology existed in “premodern” societies. Technology was associated with skills rather than the production of complex artefacts (Ingold, 2000) To go onto Beniger’s view technology can be seen as an extension of natural capabilities that it stretches out the boundaries of what was possible without it(quoted in Chapman 2007). To Ingold and Beinger we embody technology. To me this causes a re-examining of the divisions between our processes and that of the digital. Like those between the ghost and the machine we find they don’t exist and operate autonomously. This re frames the question of reflexivity where technology is not an outside imposer on our processes but a result of our processes and actions. As Costopoulos argued these issue are questions not just of digital archaeology but archaeology as a whole. The processes and choices made in the archaeological process do not only exist within the digital. Once we realise that computational efforts are not separate we shift from it’s presence being a problem to our presence and actions forming these distortions. I agree strongly with Costopoulos “that DA will mature when it stops being a “thing” that only digital archaeologists do”(quoted in comment Huggertt, 2016) This will come with time and digital archaeology may become archaeology as it is an extension of our processes.
Chapman, Anne. Democratizing Technology: Risk, Responsibility and the Regulation of Chemicals. London: Earthscan, 2007. Print.
Collier, John, and Malcolm Collier. Visual Anthropology: Photography as a Research Method. Albuquerque: U of New Mexico, 1986. Print.
Costopoulos, Andre. “Digital Archeology Is Here (and Has Been for a While).” Frontiers in Digital Humanities 3 (2016)
Huggett, Jeremy. ““Let’s Talk about Digital Archaeology”.” Blog post. Introspectivedigitalarchaeology. 10th May 2016. Accessed on 4th Dec. 2016.
Huggett, Jeremy. “A Manifesto for an Introspective Digital Archaeology.” Open Archaeology 1.1 (2015)
Ingold, Tim. The Perception of the Environment: Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling & Skill. London: Routledge, (2000)