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BRITARCH  July 2003

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Subject:

Re: Time Team Big Dig - programme versus digging

From:

Nick Boldrini <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

British archaeology discussion list <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 4 Jul 2003 11:33:10 +0100

Content-Type:

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Catharine Petts Wrote:

You seem to have misunderstood my point, I am not criticising people for not
getting involved. There simply was not enough time to do so properly. That
fault lies with Time Team,  but ever since the Big Dig was announced, until
the last two or three weeks the tone of all the mail on this list has been
anti-Time Team and anti-Big Dig. The connection with the loss of jobs is
that if archaeological jobs are to be protected at a local level it is
necessary  that the local population are aware of and concerned about their
local heritage and have an understanding of the need to have professional
archaeologists working locally. If the archaeological profession are going
to be so utterly negative about one of the best ideas around at present to
get people taking part and thinking about the past who would not normally be
reached through the usual mediums of Societies, classes etc, they can hardly
complain if there is a lack of local interest when archaeological jobs are
cut. 

I get your point, I just wonder how valid it is. We are engaging with local people, and try and generate awareness of their heritage in various ways. BD isnt the only way to do that.

With regard to the idea that the TT audience is somehow different from those involved in Societies etc, I am not convinced that is neccessarily true. Lone researchers are rare in any field, in my experience. At some point people usually want to share their interest and that involves usually finding like minded people in a society, or class or similar, even if its just so they can find someone to hold the other end of their 30 metre tape! I am also not sure I understand how we are supposed to deal with all these alleged loners anyway - logistically it would be impossible for us to meet up with 30 people seperately when we could meet 30 in one go at a society meeting. And if they are such loners that they don't want to get involved with 'normal' groups, how are we going to engage them to get involved with pro's?

The analogy I would use for TTBD participants would be 'contractors' as suggested to me by a colleague in Friends of the Earth recently. He suggested that many members of National Friends of the Earth could be termed contractors in that they pay their money, and essentially by doing so contract out the responsibility to do something to the organisation. Occasionally they may write the odd letter to their MP or similar, but they are a different type of member from those who are active in their local group (though we have people I would call contractors in our local group too). This analogy may (or may not) apply to TTBD participants. The act of watching TT may be enough of an engagement in their hobby/interest/whatever you want to call it for many viewers, and even for those who went in for the BD that may be enough engagement as a one off. For those who want more why not point them towards their local group or society?? If not that what else (I know, that's what your asking too, but I havent got a clue what else to suggest).

At some point there is a trade off point between trying to reach interested people and trying to spread the word widely, if you spend too much time chasing individuals you may miss out on easier hits of talking to a non-arch group (for example) and getting more results that way. The problem is that it works the other way too - talking to lots of people doesnt guarantee more interest, and you might be better off keeping in contact with that one person who is interested. The problem is time and resources - you can't always do both, so choices have to be made. ANd generally speaking I think the choice is to cast the net wider  ( I am prepared to be contradicted on that though)

You are also assuming that everyone agrees that BD is one of the best ideas around for getting people involved, the negative views of it suggests there is a lot of disagreement over if that is in fact the case (as it was presented and run this time anyway..) but better just agree to differ on that

Re your comments on a forum for local societies - I believe the HELPS email list is aimed at providing something along these lines (its another JISC mail list if you are interested). As for people not being prompted to join just because they receive a mail out - can we be sure of that, its almost certainly worth a shot I would suggest. If it fails then we can start trying thinking of other ways to engage them

best wishes

Nick Boldrini
SMR Computing Officer
Heritage Unit
North Yorkshire County Council
Direct Dial (01609) 532331
http://www.northyorks.gov.uk/environment/heritage.shtm#Archaeology

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