Finally, an update!

Despite all evidence to the contrary, this blog is still alive and kicking. (Or twitching at least.) So here goes, a quick catch up.

Months ago, in September, we ran three workshops in the local areas of Wooler and Rothbury. I am pleased to report that all the material collected has now been reviewed, broken down, put onto 5000 sticky post-it notes (or at least, so it seemed), and re-combined to give us an analysed, nuanced sense of the data.

Kate adding a post it note

Kate adding a post it note

But what does this mean? Well, the core outcomes are:

  • The ‘findability’ of rock art – Many participants told us how they struggled to find the physical rock art panels, despite sometimes having visited the site previously.
  • Desire for evocative ‘rich descriptions’ of rock art – The tone of the content provided should be engaging and imaginative, providing a level of connection with the original carver. Participants seemed to enjoy the discussions and conversations which emerged while standing at the rock art panels.
  • Desire for Speculation – It’s the key question everyone asks about rock art: ‘What does it mean?’ We had lots of answers and discussions about this, both on site and during focus groups afterwards. Rock art seems to provoke more questions than answers (at least, that’s how it appears to me as a non-archaeologist!). Who made them? What were they like? What was the landscape like? Were they meant to be viewed by everyone? Were they meant to be touched or just looked at? The list goes on…

Perhaps there’s nothing too controversial or surprising there, but it’s always good to have these issues confirmed. For example, when I joined the project I wondered whether the difficulty in finding panels was part of the fun. (I can now confidently say that this is not the case!)

In other RAMP news:

  • We have had a paper accepted at the Museums and the Web 2011 Conference in Philadelphia next month.
  • Kate & I have been spreading the word about rock art and mobile technology through lectures to post-graduate students, including one group of digital media designers who we challenged to come up with some creative ideas around the project aims. Results included interactive digital poetry, making use of social media, using rock art to tell fortunes using the stars (bit like horoscopes), and a visual art installation using phone triggered lights in the ground to gradually illuminate the outline of the landscape and the shape of the carvings. We’re going to have a think on some of these and see if we can take any of them forward.
  • We ran another set of workshops to test our first RAMP prototype (see next blog post!)
  • Finally, Areti and I demonstrated our first RAMP prototype to heritage professionals at the Bits 2 Blogs conference in Newcastle last week.

Phew! All done. And I promise to try harder to blog more frequently.


About Debbie Maxwell

Researcher on Rock Art Mobile Project (RAMP).
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