Category Archives: News

ArchaeoTech LIVE Video Podcast from #SAA2015

Hi Folks,

If, like me, you couldn’t attend the Society for American Archaeology conference happening right now in San Francisco, I have a treat for you! Chris Webster, of Digtech LLC and the Archaeology Podcast Network, helped me record some video interviews with exhibitors from the conference! You can watch the result here on the Diachronic Design YouTube Channel.

I also used some of my R programming skills, learned from the recent Software Carpentry workshop at University of Washington, to pull the last 1,000 tweets that used the #SAA2015 hashtag on Twitter. The wordcloud I created using that data gives you some idea of the most talked about people, sessions, and ideas from the past day or so.

Word cloud of some #SAA2015 tweets (n=1000), April 18, 2015 2pm
Word cloud of some #SAA2015 tweets (n=1000)

Together, I hope these two bits of media give you a quick look into the conference.



ArchaeoTech Podcast Episode 8: Interview with Chris Cameron from Field Technologies, Inc.

On the latest episode of the ArchaeoTech podcast, Chris Webster (host of the CRM Archaeology Podcast) joins me to interview Chris Cameron, a CRM archaeologist and entrepreneur whose company, Field Technologies, Inc., has developed “ArchaeoGen,” a tablet-based application for recording shoveltest forms digitally. We talk about Field Technologies’s software and hardware, the process of designing for both field archaeologists and regulatory agencies, and pick Chris’s brain for advice on how other shovelbums can start their own side businesses while on the road!

Download or stream the show here on the Archaeology Podcast Network website!

ArchaeoTech Podcast Episode 7: Interview with Brian Ballsun-Stanton, Technical Manager and Data Architect for FAIMS

In the latest episode of the ArchaeoTech Podcast, I talk with Brian Ballsun-Stanton, the technical manager and data architect for the Federated Archaeology Information Management System (FAIMS), an integrated digital archaeology capture, management, analysis, archival, and publishing initiative in Australia. We discuss relational (and non-relational databases), the culture of archaeologists, mobile development, philosophy, and why archaeologists often choose to play Rogues in role playing games…

Click here to listen and/or download the episode from Chris Webster’s Archaeology Podcast Network!

An example of archaeology character classes in a Star Wars Edge of Empire, a popular role playing game. More info here at Fantasy

#15 Mobilizing the Past for the Digital Future Conference Day 1 Roundup

#MobileArc Day1 Tweets, n=57
#MobileArc Day1 Tweets, n=57 per @jadufton’s request for the conference buzzwords.

Bringing Archaeology Conferences Online

If you’re not already watching the livestream of the Mobilizing the Past for the Digital Future Conference, you should absolutely start!

Although the sessions are being recorded and will be available on YouTube afterwards, the conference organizers have done a fantastic job of using new media tools like UStream and Twitter to really bring this conference online in a way few others in archaeology have done. Follow along by watching the hashtag #MobileArc and following the conference account @MobileArc15. I’ve spent most of the afternoon Friday taking care of my son and taking client calls while having the livestream and twitter chat running in the background. These two aspects really allowed me to participate in the conversation and the conference in ways almost as good as being in Boston myself! Continue reading #15 Mobilizing the Past for the Digital Future Conference Day 1 Roundup

Announcing the ArchaeoTech Podcast!

I am now co-hosting a technology-focused podcast with Doug Rocks-Macqueen (of the Doug’s Archaeology and OpenAccess Archaeology websites) as one of several great shows on Chris Webster’s Archaeology Podcast Network.

During the show Doug and I interview archaeologists of all kinds about how they integrate digital technology like tablets, geographic information systems, digital cameras, photogrammetry, augmented reality, and more into their work. We also ask guests to describe the specific technologies they use and how they learned them so that you, our listeners, can apply these tools in your own projects!

As of today, we’ve produced 6 shows with leading digital archaeologists like Stu Eve (of the ARK archaeology recording kit project and Dead Men’s Eyes Augmented Reality), Lorna Richardson (a UK-based public archaeologist), Hugh Corley (an archaeology systems manager at Historic England), Dan Garcia (an innovator in data collection for CRM archaeology projects), and Eric Kansa and Sarah Whitcher-Kansa (the power-duo behind the open data publication project OpenContext).

Doug and I are continuing to record and new shows are available every other Monday at or you can subscribe to the show using iTunes (if you like the show, please leave us a review!). If you’d like to be on the show, please email us at

I hope you enjoy the show!



The Importance of an Open Internet

The FCC has opened a new inbox for open internet comments. Please send an email to the address below (just click on the link) or visit to post your comment into an official FCC proceeding. They need to hear from a representative sample of US citizens, not just those who can afford to lobby government officials.


The Importance of an Open Internet

As a scientist, a business person, and an American citizen, I firmly believe that the FCC should have the power to enforce strong Net Neutrality. By this I mean that no internet service provider in the United States should be allowed to discriminate what data travels across the network, at what speeds it travels across the network, or who can access that data.

As a scientist, the internet enables me to communicate and collaborate with colleagues across the globe – literally from Arkansas, Arizona, and Washington State to Brazil, Sydney, Hong Kong, and the Marshall islands. The opportunity for scientific advancement and interaction has never been so robust. Researchers from around the world can currently communicate and collaborate to solve the problems we face in our current world: from climate change to health problems like obesity and cancer – an open internet is vital to our future.

As a business person, the internet allows me the same access to customers and potential business opportunities as companies that spend millions of dollars on advertising. Even if only a few hundred people across the globe need or want my services, I can make a living – an important respite in this current economic climate. This access also allows “the next big idea” the opportunity to arise. How will the next Netflix, Facebook, or Tesla be able to revolutionize a market (or create a new one) if Blockbuster, MySpace, and GM have already bought the privilege from ISPs to have their own sites load more quickly?

As an American citizen, the internet allows me to read and view news and opinion from around the world, as events happen. A student sitting in a dorm room in 2011 was able to witness the Egyptian revolution via Twitter as it happened, and a business person sitting in an office was able to read updates from a campus shooting in Seattle last week. Sometimes it’s inspiring; sometimes it’s heartbreaking, but the internet allows me to witness, consider, and respond to both the good and the tragic events that people do in our world today.

The internet has quickly become a main means of communication, social interaction, and commerce for not only the American public, but also people around the world. The internet allows people across the globe to communicate with anyone else who has an internet connection. This not only provides an avenue for global commerce, but also for the spread – and generation – of democratic ideals and innovative ideas, news, commentary, and protest of civil and human rights violations

Please reclassify internet providers as Title II telecommunications, or whatever means necessary, to ensure that providers treat all data as data – without respect to where it comes from or what it contains – this is vital for the continued functioning of the most open avenue for communication, science, business, innovation, and freedom of speech the world has yet seen: the global internet.


-Russell Alleen-Willems

Archaeologist, humanist, citizen, and father.


#14 Day of Digital Humanities 2014: Rain and Mobile Databases in Seattle

I originally wrote this post for the Day of Digital Humanities 2014 blogging project. I have reposted it here with only minor changes to fit my blog’s formatting, but you can read the original post here.

I tested MementoDB at a local park prior to using it on the monitoring project.
I tested MementoDB at a local park prior to using it on the monitoring project.

I have a new baby at home and am his primary caregiver while my wife is at work (she’s a cultural anthropologist and does qualitative research on usability and user experience for a local game company), so my Day of Digital Humanities started early this morning at 3am and ended by about 7:30am when my wife and son woke up!

Continue reading #14 Day of Digital Humanities 2014: Rain and Mobile Databases in Seattle

#12 Announcing Live Digital Archaeology Help and the Diachronic Design Labs!

I am pleased to announce not just one, but two new additions to the Diachronic Design website! In addition to my software tutorials, I am now offering live consulting help through Google Helpouts and will also provide archaeological software and educational games.

First, as part of the Google Helpouts program, I am now able to provide one-on-one help on digital archaeology to anyone in the world. Contact me to request assistance with projects like building a lithics database, creating GIS maps, customizing data collection apps, creating websites, preparing images and reports, or to ask questions about best practices and options for how digital tools can enhance almost any kind of archaeological work.  Continue reading #12 Announcing Live Digital Archaeology Help and the Diachronic Design Labs!

#11 The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Archaeology Blogging

This post is part of Doug Rocks-Macqueen’s Archaeology “Blogging Carnival” preparing for the 2014 Blogging in Archaeology session at the Society for American Archaeology meeting. You can read Doug’s kickoff post here and consider contributing your own post. Additionally, use the hashtag #blogarch to find other posts online!

For December 2013, Doug has asked participants to write on the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of archaeology blogging.

The Good

Blogging == Writing Practice

Like most worthwhile skills, my writing ability atrophies unless I practice writing. I wrote my share of lousy papers while in undergrad and graduate school, but I also wrote a lot of papers period while in school. Over time, I refined my writing abilities enough that, even now, I can look back at several of my papers and, surprisingly, even my thesis without cringing too badly. Since graduating, however, I have been writing more technical reports, guides, and grant proposals. I find these different kinds of writing valuable in their own right, but they exercise a different skill set than used for more free form or academic writing. Through my blog, I have been able to write short posts on both broader topics in digital archaeology, as well as technical reviews. I’m not completely happy with the quality of my blog writing so far, but I think it’s improving and the skills I practice will help me as I write more on my research in the future and experiment with archaeology storytelling in other media. (What do you think of my writing? Feel free to comment below! :-)). Continue reading #11 The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Archaeology Blogging