[Podcast] Open Access, Virtual Reality, and Public Archaeology

Grab your VR goggles, we’re digging into digital archaeology!

Go Dig a Hole podcast, Episode 31


Kate Ellenberger, Kari Lentz, and Nikki Martensen join GDAH to chat about a whole bunch of cool stuff. First on deck is Open Access publishing: we discuss the benefits of publishing without paywalls, how to find good resources to publish your work in an OA platform, and labor issues for early career researchers.

The main conversation, however, centers on Ellenberger’s recent publication, “Virtual and Augmented Reality in Public Archaeology Teaching”. Ellenberger explains the differences between augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) in the article:

VR is the term used to describe replacing human consciousness with constructed surroundings. If you put on a headset with a video game or other virtual world rendered within it but cannot see your body’s physical surroundings, you are experiencing virtual reality. (Although it is beyond the scope of this review, deeper critiques of the immersiveness, interactivity, and sensoriality of VR use in archaeology have been produced at length [Eve 2012, 2017; Graham et al. 2015; Morgan 2009, 2016]). In contrast, AR refers to situations in which a digital device is employed to modify your normal surroundings. Google Glass and Pokemon GO (Figure 1) are both popular examples of augmented reality, where information (e.g., a picture of a video game character) is projected on top of your regular scope of vision. In AR, human sensory experiences are changed or added to, not replaced.

Lentz discusses AR and offers some examples, citing Pokemón GO as one of the popular applications of AR that brought the technology to mainstream consciousness. Additionally, Lentz highlights Google’s London Street View  historical overlay as an AR format for historical preservation, as well as making a mention of her research on providing interpretation for LGBTQ heritage sites using AR, and her recent work at the Presidio in San Fransisco.

Martensen also takes a prominent seat in the discussion, highlighting her research on user experience and perception in digital formats, and assessing various examples of digital public archaeology.

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