I’m afraid I’ve been rather quiet on the blog front for quite some time, I’m blaming being busy and a serious case of writer’s block, which seems to be gradually subsiding (I’ve found myself lying awake plotting new blogs, HURRAH!)
This blog is about an exciting initiative that has been bubbling away for a while, which has been launched this month: the MicroPasts project. A revolutionary way to contribute to archaeological research from the comfort of your living room, no trowels required!
The project is a combined crowd-sourcing and funding platform, developed by University College London, the British Museum and the Arts and Heritage Research Council. I’ve been lucky enough to meet some of the people behind the project while volunteering with the British Museum and I’ve even had a rummage through the index, using it to research material first hand. The project is now in full swing, with a blossoming community beavering away transcribing index cards and photo masking palstaves.
The website is simple and easy to navigate, with clear and accessible information about the different applications, overall aims and potential of the platform. The project’s tagline wonderfully summarises what it is and what they want to achieve:
A community platform for conducting, designing and funding research into our human past.
One of the most striking aspects of the platform is that it’s for everyone. It’s not easy to tailor information for a wide audience (I imagine, at this early stage, also a mystery audience); catering for everyone from professionals to novices is a tricky balance, but they’ve managed it. No prior knowledge is needed, the tutorials tell you everything you need to know and off you go, easy peasy!
Over the past few days, I’ve been getting to grips with the various applications, the current choices include transcribing the Bronze Age Implement Index drawers or Photo Masking Bronze Age objects and so far I’ve tried both. I must say, it’s brought out my competitive side, and I am currently (very proudly) ranked at No.4 on the leaderboard (undoubtedly, not for long).
It seems such a sensible way of creating information and resources; rather than a looming, monstrous mountain of work for one individual, it becomes a quick and painless way of creating a massive amount of information (kind of like reading Anna Karenina on a Kindle).
Anyone can create an account (or not, entirely up to you) and chip away at the index, when they fancy it or trace around a lovely palstave if the mood strikes. It’s an easy way to become part of something with enormous potential and a different way to spend some free time. Go and check it out at micropasts.org.