Truth & Beauty Bombs - The personal/political/poetics of online communication in #archaeology

Colleen Morgan
Received 2017-05-04
Citation: Morgan, Colleen “Truth & Beauty Bombs: The personal/political/poetics of online communication in #archaeology. #PATC Keynote, April 27th 2017”. 2017. Epoiesen
Creative Commons License

Dr. Colleen Morgan is Lecturer in Digital Archaeology and Heritage at York University ( ORCID: 0000-0001-6907-5535

editorial note

The original Twitter version has been Storified by Morgan here). We include Morgan’s Twitter essay here as a manifesto for creative engagement in history and archaeology in this time, in this place.

PATC Keynote

  1. A Softer World (2003-15) was a unique artefact: a collaborative fumetti (photo comic) that was a perfect remediation

  2. Remediation-refashioning & repositioning of media-is a core trait of online communication but rarely transcendent.


  3. @joeycomeau & Emily Horne offered occasional transcendence through remediation of photos & text with A Softer World. Truth & Beauty bombs.

  4. I built my first site in 2002 (now dead, but resurrected as ) & spent 15 years experimenting w/ #archaeology online.

  5. I’ve posted videos, thousands of photos, maintained two dozen blogs, organized conf sessions, played with geotagging, 3D, virtual worlds etc

  6. And yet I find myself increasingly silent these days. Silent when confronted by the whirling outrage machine of social media.

  7. I have argued previously for the use of social media to put #archaeology where the people are online, not to build islands, but links.

  8. In 2012 @stueve & I asked, “what are you doing to participate?” and outlined the advantages of this participation:

  9. @ArchaeologistSP & @lshipley805 rightly pointed out that this participation was highly contingent & fraught w/ abuse

  10. B**xit and T**mp seemed to put the last nails in the coffin in cultivating meaningful participation & creative interventions on social media


  11. Our colorful & lively community (perhaps a fictive kinship) seemed diminished, the digital village disbanded and in hiding.

  12. Is there anything we can do in the face of the outrage machine? Where are the Truth & Beauty Bombs of online communication in #archaeology?

  13. I’m pleading for generative, creative, playful communication. I’m asking, once again, for meaningful contributions to online #archaeology.

  14. Push the medium, creatively fail, comb through digital detritus for interventions to make you & others think about the past, present, future

  15. If we don’t make interventions and interfere with the perception of #archaeology why are we feeding content to this corporation?

  16. Why are we performing our outrage by tweeting links that are specifically designed to rile, punish, to profit further from political misery?


  17. I’m not limiting dialog, demanding you to post only about #archaeology, or suppress outrage, but beware of The Nothing of endless reposts.

  18. Though you are absolutely a multiple, a collective, a fluid Strathernian dividual and political creature…you are good at #archaeology.

  19. The #archaeology in your brain is interesting, beautiful & can bring subtle color and understanding to the world. Communicate THIS.

  20. An #archaeology turgid w/ ideas, rampant w/ verve & detail, an active community chewing on big (or small) ideas about humanity & materiality

  21. Obviously this is happening amongst the noise! @ArchaeologyLisa was inspired by a twitter convo to contemplate:

  22. @ArchaeologyLisa didn’t keep her bright new idea to herself, she didn’t wait 5 years for publication, she pounded out a blog post & shared.

  23. It doesn’t even have to be strictly #archaeology! @rajoyceUCB ends each day with a few lines from a poem.

  24. I’m deeply grateful for @lornarichardson hosting this twitter conference, for reclaiming this space, and I hope there are more interventions

Read Shawn Graham’s Response

Read Eric Kansa’s Response

Cover Image “It is worth setting off metal detectors” A Softer World

Masthead Image “Shrapnel” A Softer World