Figured seeing as I haven’t really bothered keeping my archaeology blog in any way, shape or form up-to-date (bite me; I’m busy!) I’d just give a quick run-down of what I’m actually doing for my dissertation here. Mostly to get it clear in my own mind as I’m getting into the write-up properly now.

Basically, I am looking at whether the way in which you narrate “virtual heritage” (eg. 3d computer models) has an effect on the way people perceive the information given.

I created a 3d reconstruction of a Neolithic building from a site in Tukey called Çatalhöyük. It’s one of the earliest urban centres in the world (7400 BCE – how cool it that?!) so it’s a pretty damn important site.

Using that model I have created three videos to “display” the building. Visually they will be identical (kinda – same sequence of images) and they’ll each provide the same information, but the method of communicating that information will change.

The first is text-only, then audio-only, and finally I used a blue screen to film someone talking (me actually, as my friend had to drop out – note to everyone I am *useless* in front of camera. Seriously seriously bad. It’s embarrassing just watching me…) and then digitally composited them[me] in front of the scene (sorta like the weather men do).

I’m then going to show people *one* video and get them to answer both objective (“what colour were the wall paintings” etc.) and subjective (“I felt I learned a lot from the video” etc.) questions based on their experience in order to see (a) if the method of communicating the information affects how much people learn from the video, and (b) if the method of communicating the information affects how much people think they have learnt from the video. Subtle difference, but a key one.

There’s been a couple of similar (but not the same) studies done: Wagner et al (2006) and Sadžak et al (2007) – if you’re interested full references can be found under the “Academic” section of my “Books” page.

The working hypothesis so far is that while there will be no difference in how much people *actually* learnt from the video, those who saw the one with the person in it will *feel* that they learned more than the other methods (based on what happened in the other studies).

It’s weird; my reading for this project has taken me from archaeology to Indiana Jones, to Las Vegas and one scary experience when I strayed into robotics and robot-human interactions (very tech-speak, brain ‘splode moment, but turned out to be very useful). Plus I get to use the word “avatar” loads *sniggers*

Aaaand that’s my procrastination done for the day. Time to actually, you know, get back to work.


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