All posts in June 2015

  • Social Media – Beyond the Selfies

    Several times before I’ve discussed the topic of social media and how it can be used for the positive and the negative. The positive is found in the ability to give voice to the often voiceless especially in countries where medias stay controlled. In other places like Iraq, groups like ISIS have a global reach in multiple languages by manipulating the demographics of social media’s key users, often young people.

    Photo Credit: 2015 Deutsche Welle

    However, there is another value in social media that is less often discussed. Its value as a data collection hub and tracking tool. In nations like Nepal and Japan it an be used to monitor aid need for natural disasters. In America – aside from some of the more social uses – it can be used to track political upheavals. Social media is even used as a tool for monitoring terrorism.

    Photo: Black Lives Matter #DCFerguson Protest in Washington DC. Photo Credit: Katie A. Paul, 2014

    Egypt for instance, has become a hub of technology in the Middle East. Millions of dollars from United Arab emirates have been poured into technology in Egypt making it one of the most wired countries in both the Middle East and Africa. Twitter and Facebook became famous in Egypt during the Arab Spring for their role in not only creating a gathering platform, but in sharing and revealing information that was not privy to the presses once the regime cracked down on the media and on TV and Internet output. Social media was used as a tool for the voiceless as was discussed in a previous post about 21st century freedom fighter.

    Photo: Katie Paul attending #DCFerguson protest at Capitol.

    Egyptians are not alone in their use of social media for socio-political change. In recent months, there has been a flurry of activity across the United States regarding the use of excessive force by the police in cities across the nation. I was able to participate in more than one of the  #BlackLivesMatter protests as a result of following the information by protest organizers on social media.
    Social media has gone far beyond the social and launched a society whose history and movements are forever digitally recorded in archives of the Internet.
    Visit this week’s new #AVProject entitled “Social Media: Science Beyond the Social” HERE or visit youtube.com/archaeoventurers
    Additional Reading:
  • Aliens & Other Worldly Conspiracies – Theories That Never Seem to Die

    For years pop culture has used the concept of aliens or some form of extra terrestrial being in order to explain periods of history that have often been deemed unexplainable.

    One of the of world’s greatest historic icons – the Great Pyramids of Giza – is subject to all manner of other-worldly conspiracy theories.

    In the fourth Indiana Jones – which was widely met with disappointment among diehard fans – was the insertion of aliens into the stories in Peru.

    One side or the other, passions can run very high when discussing conspiracy theories and the science – or lack there of – around them.  On April 15, 2015 a video surfaced on YouTube showing the culmination of a yet-to-happen debate between Graham Hancock and Egypt’s former Minister of Antiquities Dr. Zahi Hawass.  Though the video is only about two minutes long and cast in poor lighting, the ‘lively’ nature of the argument has generated over 100,000 views in the month and a half since its release. And trust me – it’s not because archaeological debates are riveting viral material – it’s all about the drama.

     

    This argument centered around Hancocks showing of a slide that contained Robert Bauval’s Orion Correlation Theory in which it is believed that the stars in the Orion Constellation have a relationship to the kings of the Great Pyramids of Giza.  However, this has been regarded by many scholars as pseudoscience or junk science.  For archaeologists and other scientists that have spent lifetime examining ancient peoples and understanding the depth of their technological and engineering capabilities, it may come off as an insult to surmise that astrological-type pseudoscience has a place in the world of academia except for its role in Archaeology 101 of what NOT to do.

    Keeping in mind that this dramatic debate encounter caught on film was more than simply an argument, but a deep fundamental disagreement, was Dr. Hawass still unwarranted in his fervent disagreement to the Orion Constellation theory and its proponents?

    Let us know your thoughts on this and other pseudo-science and conspiracy theories in archaeology on twitter @ArchaeoVenturer

     

    Check out this week’s episode entitled “Why Aliens? Ancient Cultures Deserve More Credit” HERE.

     

    Further Reading:

    Archaeological Fantasies: How Pseudoarchaeology Misrepresents the Past and Misleads the Public

    MSU Lecture Slides – Pyramidiots