GET REAL: A Manifesto for Virtual Reality in Archaeology

Submitted to the “Experience, modes of engagement, archaeology” session organized by Krysta Ryzewski, Matt Ratto and Michelle Charest.


Virtual reality has been a “killer app” within the realm of archaeological computing, as evident from the number of books, journals, and conferences dedicated to the subject. Though often presented as a single entity, virtual reality is more of a spectrum, from the fully immersive environments famously posited in William Gibson’s Neuromancer to telepresence, or the space “where you are when you’re talking on the phone” (Rucker, et al. 1992). In this paper I will explore the range of these offerings and discuss their relative merit as interpretive and heuristic devices by asking a few uncomfortable questions. Should the people of the past serve as your digital tour guides? Is sitting behind a computer screen truly interactive? What do people learn about archaeology by walking through a virtual model? Does virtual reality contribute to a social archaeology? Finally, I will argue for an augmented reality model for interpretation in archaeology.

This is the first of my two abstracts for WAC. I’m not deeply happy with them, as they were both dashed off during this completely exhausting week.

I’ll post the other one tomorrow–but for now, beer.

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2 responses to “GET REAL: A Manifesto for Virtual Reality in Archaeology

  1. All great ideas but I would also add another item to it: consider doing a virtual event/meeting. Virtual events and meetings are a great way to stay in front of customers, generate new leads and help close business already in the pipeline. These solutions are being deployed so rapidly by companies that the market is projected to exceed $18 billion by 2015. If you are interested in how you can use virtual environments attend the Virtual Edge Summit Feb. 22-23 (virtually or in-person if you are in/near Silicon Valley). There is no registration fee if you take a short survey.

    Virtual Edge Summit 2010 is the only event that focuses exclusively on providing education, training and solutions for planning and producing virtual events, meetings and communities. Over 2 days, 80 experts will share their experience with you, and be available for one-on-ones. The event also offers a rich program for featuring experts from Cisco, Stanford, IBM, Disney SAP, Oracle, Intel as well as top virtual technology and service providers like InXpo, ON24, 6Connex, Stream57, CGS VirtualEvents365, George P. Johnson, Unisfair and Digitell.

    When: February 22-23, 2010 8am until 6pm

    Where: At the Santa Clara Convention Center in California and virtually in browser based virtual environments offering 2D and 3D experiences.

    Register at http://www.VirtualEdgeSummit.com

  2. Pingback: WAC6 Cypriot cultural heritage ethics abstract | Uk Deed Poll - United Kingdom Deed Poll Service

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