February 19, 2013

Presenting Anthropology - Weeks 5&6 (Discussion)

For the last two weeks, we've been talking about presenting anthropological information in print, both in terms of news media and in terms of posters/brochures/flyers/etc.  I probably shouldn't hold off on blogging about our discussion until the end of the unit, though, as now I can't seem to find my notes from last week...

We talked a great deal last week about dealing with the media and about how we might approach different audiences.  That is, an audience of colleagues at a conference is different than an audience of the general public.  And yet, reporters are increasingly showing up at research conferences and covering stories that they think are of wider interest.  The line between public and for-colleagues-only is increasingly blurring, and we were largely in agreement that making every presentation accessible to a general, educated audience was the best option whenever possible.  One student suggested that anthropologists might want to learn a bit about journalism and public relations (e.g., how to write a press release) so that we can get better at disseminating our message (without jargon!) in a way that interests the general public.  Not sure yet how to put together a workshop on this topic, but I thought it was a good idea and will be mulling that over for the future.

We also collected examples of bad presentations (generally posters) and discussed what turned us away.  These are my favorite: Doing It Wyoming Style; Who Will Speak for Them? (as featured at Savage Minds); Conservator: The Invisible Hero; and Landscape Dynamics at Monticello (even though I have a soft spot for the place I did my first field school, that can't make up for a title in Comic Sans).  We got a lot of our information and inspiration from Zen Faulkes' Better Posters blog.

Yesterday, we had our first official challenge -- the Print Challenge!  In true Project Runway fashion, each student presented his or her design, and the rest of us offered compliments and critiques in person and on our spiffy Presenting Anthropology cards... (well, really they're just 1/3-sheet slips of paper; hey, I'm at a public uni; no money for fancy card stock here).  I was generally impressed by what the students turned out.  The top three are...

Second runner-up -- Evan Springer.  Evan created a flyer for an entirely fictional Anthropology Career Day here at UWF (our colors are blue and green, by the way). I was a bit disappointed to learn that it was fictional, as the flyer made me want to attend.  I loved the concentric circles (I'm a sucker for circles), but more than that, I could see this design modified slightly and extended to an interactive web page and to other documents that could be handed out or shown at a career day event.  His use of the small icons for date/place/contact was also clever.  Evan's research centers on the anthropology of academic dishonesty, and he blogs about it at Academic Misconduct.


First runner-up -- Tristan Harrenstein.  For his social media project, Tristan is attempting to integrate archaeology and FourSquare, with the blessing of the Florida Public Archaeology Network.  I can't wait to see how he does over the course of the semester getting the Pensacola public involved in local archaeological sites and museums through this social networking platform that I don't know much about.  Tristan's flyer is simple but eye-catching, as the off-kilter cross is distinct but also makes sense with the FourSquare theme.
And the winner of the Print Challenge -- Gregg Harding.  Gregg is currently working at a mid-19th-century industrial brick site.  One of his challenges is to make archaeology accessible to students at local Milton High, and also to get them to do archaeology themselves.  It's a very exciting public archaeology project, and Gregg's presentation (for the upcoming Florida Anthropological Society conference) is visually interesting without being overwhelming.  We suggested some minor edits to this (e.g., desaturate the background a bit, fix the logo transparency issues, and change the spacing in the contact area), but we all liked it a great deal.  For more on Gregg's work, check out his blog Building Heritage Education.


All told, we had a great showing in class yesterday.  There were brochures, posters, business cards, flyers, and infographics.  It was neat to see what the students came up with, and the winners above definitely deserve a round of applause.

Our next unit is on audio, so I can't wait to hear what they come up with!

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