UPDATE : I managed to get both of the wonderful EAA Glasgow social teams’ names wrong – I apologise profusely. Thank you to everyone for your interest!
The return journey from Glasgow to Fife was a lonely, empty one; I tried to keep up on twitter but the hastag #EAAGla was all but silent. The same hashtag that had been alive and well for the last four days was now showing the last few dribbles of conversations –the thank yous and see you agains. It felt very much as if the energy had been sapped away; but how did Twitter become so all-encompassing, how did it gain so much energy in the first place?
The first interactions with the social media team for EAA Glagsow 2015 primed the entire conference, from the start, there was a sense of authentic, earnest communication, often considered a rarity among “official accounts” of large organizations. Instead the amazing team of Kimm Curran and Christina Gilfedder set the cogs in motion for an engaged audience. I blame their insistence on my session having cake on the fact I went out to buy cake instead of preparing for my session (let me preface this, I did promise cake). On my first night in Glasgow I felt myself being led away by archaeologists for a pint, walking and chatting, I didn’t notice two figures across the road looking at me going into ‘the wrong pub’. After securing a drink I turn around and there stand before me are two women kitted out with social media hoodies, saying “Mr. Boyle, there you are” – oh dear, I’ve been in Glasgow 2 hours, how can I already be infamous? It soon came to light who stood before me – I was amazed that they had found and recognized me, that was something special.
This wasn’t the only time this happened; I am fortunate to know Doug Rocks-Macqueen, a man dedicated to being behind a camera lest he is in front of one. Doug is known to many for his work recording conferences and working on Profiling the Profession and thus was very able to acquaint me with many of well know archaeologists from the UK. Outside of Doug walking me around the welcome party, I began to recognize people from Twitter (although several times I thought I had got it wrong); the unmistakable blue hair of Tara Coppelstone and the red hair of Lisa Catto made them easily recognisable but I noticed that many people did not know me by name, instead they knew my Twitter handle, Anarchaeologist. I do hope this is because of the success of my podcast but I have a feeling it is more to do with tweeting, retweeting and favouriting that I do on Twitter – maybe I should ask people more? It demonstrated to me, the value of a brand or a recognisable name that led to people knowing of me but never having any direct contact with me.
However when I had previously been in contact over twitter or other media and then met the person in real life, I must say there was a distinct feeling of joy and wonderment, as if I was meeting old friends after so long. But I had never met these people before, never shared the close relationships that you build with friends in person over years and yet seeing these people made me so happy. Even more wonderful was when people got stuck in; I met Lisa Catto on the first night walking around, being introduced to people by Doug, and as we continued on through the hall of mingling archaeologists, we looked around for more people. Lisa was standing with a wine glass inspecting a science outreach experiment ( you know the kinda hot and cold bars one); as she looked up there was that uncertain certainty, the kind that makes you wave at strangers then think, oh no, that’s not them. However I got the name right (Lisa had fortunately changed her Twitter photo the week prior) and we introduced ourselves. The writers mix of knowing and not knowing simultaneously.
Throughout the entire conference there were meetings just like this, people from Twitter conjured into real life and standing before me. I count myself lucky to have my session on the first afternoon, a daunting prospect but ultimately a fantastic session thanks to the speakers. Those presenters are people I’d bump into regularly, I found myself spending time filming with what became ‘my crew’ – Domenica Pate and Lisa Catto. I went into full director mode, as either of the women will tell you, and began placing Lisa in front of the camera to talk to other people – something she excelled at. Domenica was my recruiter, sent out to find willing victims to be placed in front of a camera and talk about the conference. It was amazing.
I think what I learnt most from the entire conference was that archaeology is like a community, there are so many people who love what they do and also love people who love what they do. My happiness soared when I talked to people so passionate about what they do they could hardly contain themselves – that is the passion we need to show the world. Archaeology isn’t just another subject, it’s a little bit more.
The journey has only started however and I am determined to make my presence known at other conferences, interviewing recording and tweeting the entire time; if you see me set up with camera at your next archaeology conference please come talk to me, I don’t bite………..hard.
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