Increasingly over the last decade, anthropologists have looked to digital tools as a way to improve interpretations, engage the public in innovative ways, increase accessibility to resources, collaborate with other disciplines, and more. This development means it is important that students become equipped with the skills and confidence necessary to creatively and critically apply digital tools to anthropological questions. This page will provide you with some great tools and resources to get you started and take your digital work to the next level.
Digital Anthropology Slides: DigitalAnthropology.pdf
- Twitter: micro-blogging tool that is great for networking, sharing work, and maintaining connections in only 140 characters
- Facebook: social networking site that is increasingly used for education and professional websites, use Pages for advertising projects
- Instagram: social networking through photos (alert: by publishing photos you give Facebook a license to reuse them)
- Periscope: social networking through video
These tools allow you to easily create a professional website that can serve as a central location for your project’s identities, research, visualizations and more. You can also customize them to make the site personal to your project.
- WordPress (free with paid upgrades)
- Weebly (free)
- Google Sites (free)
- Tumblr (free)
- About.me (free, very easy!)
Social Media Analytics
Most social media sites have their own analytics- use these to understand your audience, what posts and messages are most successful, and how to better reach your stakeholders.
Geospatial Web + Mapping
- CartoDB: easy to use mapping and data management tool, can easily add maps to websites, and create great interactive visuals.
- Example 1: Mortuary Mapping– created by a graduate student as a resource for learning more about her dissertation research
- Example 2: 1940s New York– created by the CUNY Graduate Center using public domain maps
- Example 3: Urban Displacement– created by UC Berkeley to explore gentrification and displacement in the Bay Area
All three of these are fantastic tools for creating interactive online maps that can be embedded into websites. They take slightly more programming knowledge than the beginner options, but can be learned fairly quickly, and provide a more robust option.
- Example: ieldran- the Early Anglo-Saxon Cemetery Mapping Project– created by myself using Leaflet to record locations of cemeteries in early medieval England
- MapBox + TileMill
- Example: Block by Block, Brooklyn’s Past and Present– created by BKLYNR to share how this part of NYC has changed and is continuing to change
- Example: The Appendix, Appendixed– map of the Blue Note music trend in the 1930s and 40s
- Nunaliit: Create interactive maps with data and multimedia, allow different users to contribute, created for indigenous groups to share materials
- Example: Views from the North– stories and multimedia mapped out in space, photo-based learning from Inuit elders and youth
Digital Exhibits, Repositories + Archives
- Omeka.net: easy to use Omeka that is free and lives on their server, create your own simple museum exhibits and archives of material
- Example: Documented: Digital Collections of the History Project– preserves the digital materials and histories of Boston’s LGBTQ communities
- Example: About Desoronto, built for the community to share cultural heritage.
- Example: California Women for Agriculture– preserving history of the organization, material culture and stories.
- Omeka.org: more robust version of Omeka that requires server space and more detailed thought into metadata
- Example: Identities: Understanding Islam in a Cross-Cultural Context– built by Kennesaw State, American Association of Museums and others to create a knowledge based on identity formation of Islamic immigrants
- Examples: Campus Unearthed– created by graduate and undergraduate students, shares artifacts and archival material from MSU Campus Archaeology Program
- KORA: great open access tool that allows you to choose your own metadata scheme, has connection with WordPress for front end
- Murkutu: online repository system that was built for storing indigenous materials, has great licensing system, and app to store recordings and photos
- Example: Mira: Canning Stock Route Project Archive– stores Aboriginal art and intangible cultural heritage to be used by community members from Western Australia
Other Examples and Tools
- Chaco Research Archive: great example of a digital archive that provides easy access to legacy data, database and maps included
- Open Context: fantastic resource for archaeologists- provides preservation and sharing of data in an accessible manner
- Wordle: basic tool to see word repetition in a visual way
- Raw: great tool for doing a variety of graphic interpretations of data and seeing relationships between data
- R: great tool for statistical analysis and doing great visualizations, but does require knowledge of the program and can be a little tricky
- Gephi: slightly easier to use than R, and great for network analysis
- Penn Museum Collections: the museum recently made all of its collection data free to download on their website, and this is a great dataset to learn more about museums collections
- Open Refine: a great tool for taking messy data and making it clean for analysis, can divide columns, fix naming issues, and more
- Raw: create data visualizations easily just by inputting data and playing with the settings
Storytelling + Games
- Storify: easy to use tool for telling stories and annotating web resources from tweets and facebook posts, to news and journal articles, excellent way to organize social media from specific events
- Example: Inside Teaching– these are my digitally enhanced notes from a teaching lecture on creating communities in classrooms
- Twine: simple tool for creating interactive and non-linear stories or games, does require some HTML/CSS to make the stories pretty but is not required
- Example: Beneath Floes– a beautiful example of using Twine to bring a folk story to life and allow the user to interact with it
- OdysseyJS: created by the folks at CartoDB, it allows you to weave stories into maps
- StoryMap: creates interactive stories based on maps or static images, provides a way to create narratives that focus around landscapes and space.
- JQuery Mobile: helps you to create interactive and mobile friendly websites
- Example: Talus– created by a graduate student as a tools for bioarchaeologists and forensic anthropologists to use in the lab to aid in skeletal analysis
- PhoneGap: helps you create mobile apps that can be packaged and downloaded to any device, slightly more advanced but still doable
- Example: msu.seum– beta version created by graduate and advanced undergraduates as part of a summer digital field school for navigating and learning more about MSU’s archaeological, historic and archival resources
- Curatescape: tool for creating great phone based museum exhibits, but does cost money to create, works well with Omeka
- Mbira: coming soon, will provide tools to design mobile cultural heritage experiences- based on the msu.seum app.
- Museum of London apps: the MOL has a number of really interesting apps that extend the museum experience beyond the walls of the building including placing historic photos over current landscapes, Roman archaeological finds and more.
- National Museum of Scotland Explorer: mobile app that one uses in the museum, do challenges, find objects, and answer questions to get badges.
- 123D Catch: fun tool for creating 3D visualizations using your phone, easy to use and create instant 3D images
- Sketchfab: site for storing 3D visualizations and scans
- Example: The British Museum– stores their 3D scans on Sketchfab, great way to interact with artifacts from afar or get a closer look at their details
- Micropasts: great example of crowdsourcing data and labor from the British Museum, and they provide the coding for the site so that you can create your own!
- Zooniverse: build your own crowdsourcing site using their back end and tools
- Example: Fossil Finder– help anthropologists find fossils in the Turkana Basin in northern Kenya
- myHistro: create timelines that are integrated with maps and stories, very easy to use
- TimelineJS: great tool for creating interactive timelines based on web materials or slides that you create, easy to use and very visual, can embed in other sites
- Example: #adderall project– used TimelineJS to share videos made that relate to adderall and their popularity through time