Part 3 Finding and Communicating the Compelling Story

Data never speaks for itself. In digital work, this problem is compounded by the kinds of stories that the tools want to tell. Many different kinds of content management systems are available to mount the materials online. Each one however has built in presets and categories (and ways of categorizing) that reveal how their makers imagined the world working. Even the division of content into ‘posts’ and ‘pages’ on the ubiquitious content management system Wordpress, is a division of information by priority - and search engines for instance take that division as a signal in how results are returned, for instance.

Imagine that you are working with a First Nation in Canada, designing an online exhibition concerning their cultural heritage. Imagine that you’ve been asked to design the exhibit in such a way as to allow different members of that community (or outsiders) different kinds of access - that different elements of the materials should be recombined in particular ways. Wordpress’s simple pages and posts would clearly be not enough.

That is one aspect that should be considered in the public-facing work of communicating the compelling story. Given that so much of digital archaeology involves working on the open web, ethical concerns permeate everything we do. Who could this harm? That is the question that needs to be asked at every juncture. It might not be apparent that harm could result from our decisions - what harm is there in making our data analysis open with a Jupyter notebook or shared code or dataset? Sometimes, the harm is in keeping the work closed; sometimes making the work open could allow it to be appropriated by bad-faith actors (witness the ways Classical scholarship is appropriated in the service of racism).

In this chapter, you will find a variety of tools and approaches for increasing the reach of, and engagement with, your scholarship. Choices have consequences. Who is hurt, who is helped, by yours?