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Photoblog: Barunga Field School 2016, Day Two

Friday 08/07/2016

On the second day we visited Narritj Bumbalum, another rockshelter and art site near Beswick. We practiced rock art photography and heard stories about the art and the site in general.The site is situated on the (croc free) Waterhouse River and we had time for a quick swim during our time there.

Towards the end of the day, we conducted a team building exercise under the direction of Irene. Pañuelito (translated to ‘little tissue’) is a Spanish game where you have to run and grab the handkerchief when your number is called. You have to get the handkerchief back over your line before you get tackled by your opponent. In short: lots of fun and now everyone is relaxed and comfortable with each other.

On our way back to the cars, we visited a stone tool production site where students learnt about lithic identification. There are literally thousands of stone tools here, but we must make our way back to Barunga as it is getting dark. The benefit of this is that the students got to see a water buffalo (a rare site for people not from ‘the north’).

We had a relatively quiet evening resting up around the campfire, looking at the photos from our day with Nell and other community members.

Photoblog: Barunga Field School 2016, Day One

Thursday 07/07/2016

On the first day of the field school, we visited a rockshelter close to Barunga. We split into smaller groups so the students could each learn a new skill. One group practiced the baseline-offset method for producing a site plan, another group assessed the preservation of the rock art (including the factors that might help or hinder preservation), while the third group learned motif recording with Irene, a visiting PhD student from Spain.

During the day, Isaac and Billy, our community guides (Custodians (Junggayi) for this Country), taught students about how the rock art was made and how ochre was cached around the site. While we were recording, Isaac and Billy shared stories about particular motifs and what they meant to them within the Jawoyn belief system.

At dinner time we were joined by community elders Nell (Senior Junggayi), Joyce, Jocelyn and Melissa who shared stories and gave the students a skin name, to situate them in the Dalabon kinship system, which is used in this Country. We watched an ABC documentary called ‘Bamyili: My Country‘, which is about the original Barunga settlement. An artefact of its time, the narrator speaks in an Australian BBC accent to describe how the local Aboriginal people have been ‘civilised’ by European settlers. It is essentially a description of bygone attempts at assimilation; however, the community elders are more interested in identifying family in the short documentary and remembering people who have now passed away.

Hopes and Fears: Barunga Community Archaeology Field School 2016

One of the aims of this field school is to introduce students to working effectively with Aboriginal people. As many will go on to pursue a career in archaeological consultancy, they will need to be equipped with the capability of working with different groups in a cross-cultural context. Many graduates have never worked with Aboriginal communities, much less visited one. For the week-long field school, participants will stay in the community, and will undertake field work following the rules set down by Senior Traditional Owners and Custodians of this area (see their explanation in We just have to show you: Research ethics blekbalawei).

We asked our students to write a short piece on their experiences during the field school. We’ll be able to follow their progress through three or four updates over the course of the week. Each student has written a blog entry where they have captured their initial hopes, fears and expectations for this field school very early on day one. Those entries are posted below.

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Marc

Is this university gig my midlife crisis?

This trip is an unexpected and exciting opportunity for a first year undergrad; although, I did start the five-day road trip from Adelaide to Barunga with a mild degree of trepidation. I don’t have an overpowered two-door extension of my male genitalia: I have a small underpowered Suzuki Jimny. Is this university gig my midlife crisis?

So how does a middle aged, ex-military, divorcee, communicate and connect with people significantly different, and younger, than me? A big presumption I know; however, I am pretty certain most mature aged students entering university for the first time suffer similar phobias. The only possible non-phobia is that a 30-year solid training regime places me in good stead for the uni bar.

But if the road trip to Burunga is any indication, and I think it is, then the embracing, open, and accepting nature of my road-trip companions eliminated any trepidation I had. Travelling with an eclectic mix of undergrad and post-grads of varying ages, from an array of backgrounds, wielding no judgements or preconceptions, makes it pretty easy to feel comfortable and welcome in any environment.

My expectation of what Barunga looks like is limited to the photographs in the Community Archaeology handbook, Claire’s book County, Kin and Culture: Survival of an Australian Aboriginal Community, and the Barunga Festival website. I do, however, expect that a football oval will be a central recognisable feature, as will a Telstra mobile phone tower. I anticipate the community housing will be of similar design and construction, with palms scattered throughout a red dirt landscape interspersed with native grass.

Writing this in Mataranka Springs, the road trip is almost complete. My earlier trepidation is gone, but now a little fear is creeping in as the field school is about to commence. I fear not understanding accents or local terminology. I fear offending someone, anyone, and fear making a disappointing evening meal. I fear Endi will still smash his shins on Chris’s camper trailer even when it’s not connected to the car. I fear doing a hammy playing football with the community kids: because physical age is no barrier to attempting to kick a goal from outside 50.

Academically, I hope to learn some of the symbology behind rock art; improve my understanding of how communities such as Barunga were ‘born’; and perhaps how to identify some plants, animals, and bush foods specific to the area. But, more than anything I hope to simply keep my eyes and ears wide open: listen carefully to the Community Representatives and ask lots of questions.

Socially, I hope to foster friendships which will last throughout my academic journey and beyond. And if I get an opportunity to improve my limited didgeridoo playing ability, that will be an excellent bonus. I also hope that the abrupt end to my exotic pole dancing career, on our night out in Alice Springs, doesn’t bring disrepute to Flinders or the Archaeology Department. I hope that my peers, now friends, see that this was merely positive demonstration that age and (in)ability is no match for ambition.

Bring on Barunga.

Karen

I am looking forward to my encounters with Aboriginal people

The word ‘community’ is the only familiar concept that I have to visualise the coming week in Arnhem Land.

The concept of community carries both inclusive and exclusive connotations. The former allows a sense of comfort, incorporating all people equally as part of the human race. The latter bears the weight of the British colonial displacement of aboriginal people from their lands and the ensuing social division in Australia.

I am looking forward to my encounters with Aboriginal people, culture and their ancient art and artefacts.

My greatest fears and trepidations about the field trip are concerns with my body and its encounter with small invasive fauna, ticks, lice and mosquitos, more so than a chance meeting with a rampaging Brahman cow.

Armed with more insect repellent than I’m sure is needed, I look forward to the experience of the Barunga Community field trip.

Chris

I am interested to explore the interaction between ‘law enforcement’ and the community in Barunga

My expectations of the time at Barunga are based on limited exposure to Aboriginal communities, most recently the communities near Ceduna, South Australia. These include long-established communities based on former Lutheran missions, and informal communities established by Aboriginal people travelling and living in the area. The settlements of Yalata and Koonibba are well-serviced and generally supported by Government investment and funding. The services include schools, police stations, health centres, and visiting ‘white specialists’ who provide a limited service in counselling, assisting with management and construction work. The informal settlements include temporary camps, often associated with a common drinking culture, and “Town Camp”, where people visiting Ceduna are able to stay.

There are several major language groups living near Ceduna – Kokoda, Wirrangu, Anangu, and many smaller groups, and these speak a mixture of languages, as well as a type of creole language.  This does not seem to be an established language, but one which draws on each persons’ natal language, with the adoption of words and phrases from the other Aboriginal languages, and from English. I am not aware of a formal and consistent grammar in this combined language, so it may not be as structured as the Kriol of the NT, as described in Smith, C. (2004) Country, Kin and Culture, one of the preparatory readings for the course.

Some of the issues described in Smith seem to be common to many Aboriginal communities. There is a strong sense of alienation and dispossession, and that the people do not have easy access to Australian services and culture. Ceduna is undoubtedly a town coloured by a racist attitude to Indigenous people, with limited understanding of, or empathy with the difficulties experienced by Aboriginal people. The communities include the Maralinga-Tjarutja people, who were moved to Yalata from their red sand country near Ooldea in preparation for the nuclear tests carried out at Maralinga.

There is an excessive Police presence in Ceduna, and I am interested to explore the interaction between ‘law enforcement’ and the community in Barunga, particularly to follow the experience of youth there.  The youth of the Ceduna area are particularly affected by a sense of hopelessness about their future, and this has led to a culture of drink and drug taking; typically ganja, and more recently ice (a methamphetamine derivative).

In my experience, community cohesion and development are often being led by strong women, and I am interested to see whether the same applies in Barunga.  Senior men are less prominent near Ceduna, since many are lost to “the grog”. I would be interested to explore whether senior men have a prominence in the Barunga community, and whether this makes a difference to the problems of young men by providing example and authority.

I would be interested to explore the interaction between the Police and the community, particularly the outcomes of the ‘Intervention’ of the early 2000s. My understanding is the political impetus for this program related to child abuse, but that no successful case has been prosecuted. There is a vast increase in incarceration, but most relate to traffic offences and the failure to pay court fines. I understand that the rate of incarceration of Aboriginal people in NT has now exceeded that of WA, one of the highest in the world. I believe this illustrates the narrow range of options that white society uses in dealing with Aboriginal issues. It represents a distorted post hoc justification for what is essentially a politically motivated program.

Endi

At the end of the day, this trip for me is mainly about personal growth and to understand a [different] culture

I expect the community in Barunga to have large open fields with a lot of space for their own cultural activities. I believe they will have very close family ties living in smallish houses made of tin or older type of materials. The houses might be on the low economic side. I expect a community of a few hundred people with sports grounds, campfires and communal feasts. Sports grounds I believe will consist of football ovals and basketball courts. I expect the weather to be really warm as I am in Mataranka now and it is warm and beautiful.

At this field school I expect to achieve a sound knowledge of the Indigenous culture that live in Barunga. As an undergraduate student I expect to experience a lot seeing it is my first field trip. I want to achieve knowledge in Indigenous rock art, culture, food, oral histories, dreaming time stories and music. I really would love to learn the didgeridoo and any other Indigenous instruments.  I want to achieve knowledge in stone artefacts if they are available and other material culture from past and modern materials. The major aspect I want to achieve is just to experience archaeology in the field.

My hopes for this field trip are to gain greater knowledge in all aspects of archaeology in the field. I want to understand the racism towards such a proud culture. I hope to learn some music and wish to do some dancing with the culture that live in Barunga, however, I feel this might not happen because they do this in their own ceremonies.

I do not have too many fears as I like new things in life and love challenging myself to any extent. Some of my fears consist of not having enough knowledge for a field school as it is my first. I am not sure if I will be able to record maps and details to the standard the teachers want me to. I also fear cooking for a large group of people as the maximum I have ever cooked for is a handful of people. I have no knowledge in gluten free food or vegan and vegetarian food. However, I am excited for the challenge.

My impressions are based on what I have heard from other archaeology students and the few books I have started reading or completed. The book I have completed is Claire Smith’s ‘Country, Kin and Culture. I have also started reading ‘Decolonizing Methodologies’ and ‘The Archaeologist’s Field Handbook’. I am also coming into this field school with my own life experiences. My experiences in life can relate to Indigenous culture to an extent. These problems included alcohol and substance abuse to escape a dark reality of loneliness and feeling disconnected from the rest of the world as I am alone and have no family or help to guide me along the journey of life. Defeating the dark problems of life, I want to be able to connect to people and help anyone that has similar problems.

At the end of the day, this trip for me is mainly about personal growth and to understand a culture that has been flooded with negativity from the Western world. Meeting new people has always been something I love doing. Finally, I want to understand the archaeology side of Indigenous culture and there is nothing better than sitting around a campfire having a great laugh and sharing stories with new people and friends.

Irene

Concerning my research in rock art, it will be a huge opportunity to work and learn the way Indigenous people understand their artistic heritage

When I was told I got the grant to come to Australia from Spain for a PhD research stay I couldn’t imagine the great opportunity I had to come to the Northern Territory and experience living with an aboriginal community in Barunga. Since then, I started reading a large amount of bibliography (books, papers, magazine articles) about Aboriginal communities in Australia. These readings gave me a general idea about their lifestyle and a bit about their current situation in the country, a topic that highly attracts my interest. But during this 5-day-roadtrip up to the NT, I had my first contact with Aboriginal people and experienced the relations and racist prototypes from some non-Aboriginal Australians towards these communities. This rapidly helped me to understand a bit more their current situation. I have also asked several non-Aboriginal people about the position and consideration in society and got some different and interesting answers. But I am pretty sure that all the ideas that I have previously created in my mind will change as soon as we have our first contact with the community that will host us for a week. I would like to know their personal perspective about their situation, learn about their feelings and thoughts and share all their opinions.

The experience of living and working with a local community will be enriching and inspiring at different levels I guess. On one hand, concerning my research in rock art, it will be a huge opportunity to work and learn the way Indigenous people understand their artistic heritage, the symbolic relation they have towards these sacred places, and the link with their ancestors, mythology and the land. I would learn a different way of studying the rock art paintings, new methodology and different techniques as well as sharing my own, trying to find the best way to record, and understand these sites. And all these will be made working with an experienced archaeologist team but also with community people. I look forward to hear all types of stories about these sites that probably old people from the community could remember, giving a meaning to the paintings depicted in those sites full of meaning. This would surely help me to understand and probably change my idea about the prehistoric rock art that I am currently studying in Europe.

In this context, I think communication with community people would be one of the most important parts in this experience. Not only because it would help me filling the gaps of my doctoral research, but also, and which is personally more valuable, trying to know more about the community and the Australian aboriginal society. What I could expect also, and from what I have learnt from other experiences living with indigenous communities in other countries, is to create closed ties and good relationship with this people, through sharing our own background and understanding theirs, observing everything they do and the way they live and trying to act the same way, as to be as much as possible integrated in the community. Considering being a part of that community when your background, costumes and skin color separates you, will be one of the challenges I will be confronted. But at the same time, one of my main concerns is precisely that difference, and above all, the language barrier that could probably establish from the very beginning this difficulty to get more implicated in the community and to learn from them.

The main experience would consist on sharing feelings and thoughts with people from another background. As my first time in this country, everything is new for me. I am going to open my eyes and keep an open mind, observing and participating in every activity, sharing feelings, so as to learn as much as I can in every aspect of this experience.

Laura

My interest in archaeology stems (and this will come as no surprise to those who know me) from Star Trek

After spending a total of forty-six hours on various busses first from my hometown of Tumby Bay to Adelaide, then on to Alice Springs, and finally to Katherine. It was a long trip which I passed primarily with Big Finish Audio Dramas.

As far as expectations go, I try not to have them. I find that they impede experiences and so the sum total of my expectations for the coming week is that it is going to be hot, considering the local climate and the fact that I have spent time in the area on several occasions.

My interest in archaeology stems (and this will come as no surprise to those who know me) from Star Trek. Captain Jean Luc Pickard, who has a background in archaeology himself, periodically gives fatherly advice to Wesley Crusher. On one particular occasion when Wesley is preparing to leave for Starfleet Academy, he tells him to make time to study archaeology and to befriend the groundskeeper. The finer implications of this is a discussion for another time, but Pickard’s advice has never failed me before. But I digress.

The experience will be a worthwhile one and I hope a positive one. I must admit to a little apprehension regarding my less than ideal interpersonal skills.

Suzanne

Having worked with the local people in Egypt for a number of years I felt I needed the same with local people in my own country

Having worked with the local people in Egypt for a number of years I felt I needed to experience the same with the local people in my own country.  My main area of interest is art in the ancient world. The art and stories of the peoples of Australia having been maintained from the ancient times and have a living link with this style of art and story that we note today with our local Aboriginal people.  I have read a number of articles on the Intervention and working with the communities and felt that this was a wonderful way to connect and see how this way of thinking can be protected and nurtured.  The opportunity to travel to Barunga was possibly a perfect way to get in touch with true Australian artistic thinking.

I am expecting the site to be fairly open as there are around 200 people living in this community. I don’t expect it to be particularly lush nor do I expect the trappings of the coastal tourist traps around NSW.  The facilities such as store and medical would possibly be fairly basic without any luxuries. I imagine there will be a lot of young people in the community who will occupy their time with games or sports, in any open areas around the community.

I realise that we may be working with the children at a children’s camp so I am looking forward to engaging with them in story, and discussion to see the differences in the way these children connect in conversation with each other and with new people who come into the community. I feel that this communication they offer is the first steps to understanding the stories and art of the present and past for these communities. Their connection to the local environment is also a point of great interest which seems to be drawn into their stories and artworks, be it modern or ancient in style or content. I just hope that I don’t say the wrong thing or offend when asking questions of community members.

Aylza

I expect that the Barunga Community might perhaps look a little bit like communities I have been to in the Pilbara in WA

This is this first of three blog posts written as part of the ARCH8810 Community Archaeology Field School. This post is about my thoughts and expectations before the field school starts.

I expect that the Barunga Community might perhaps look a little bit like communities I have been to in the Pilbara in Western Australia (WA). Although in an entirely different kind of country, with different geography, topography and plants.

I think there might be a footy oval, or at least an area with AFL goal posts, and an area with a basketball hoop. Maybe there will be lots of children and dogs. I imagine people of all ages, from babies to very old, mostly cyclone proof housing and probably quite a few vehicles, some going and some not going. Maybe the community will be in a bit of a clearing in and amongst trees. For some reason I think there will be lots of trees, I don’t know why.

Natasha

I am afraid that I may not observe correct social interactions, or unintentionally offend somebody due to my limited contact with Indigenous communities

I have chosen to come to Barunga to better my understanding of Indigenous communities who are living on the land in remote Australia and how they interact with European influence, whilst keeping their sense of cultural identity and connection with the land.

I am hoping that after this field school I will be more culturally aware and knowledgeable about Indigenous life and the realities of working on community. I would like to build relationships with people and find ways to make archaeology something that is both relevant and useful in not only the academic sense, but also for the communities who maintain the culture and heritage that we are studying.

I expect that Barunga will appear like a small country town, although having read Claire Smith’s book on Barunga and articles about community life before and after the intervention, I imagine that there will be a lot of families that have large numbers living in tight quarters. I also don’t imagine that there will be the best of services provided for the community. As there is no drinking allowed on community, I expect that it will be relatively quiet and family oriented with plenty of kids about. I hope that there are facilities for the kids to play footy or soccer. I am not sure whether houses will be close together or spread out like a country town.

My fears are mostly related to my ignorance. I am afraid that I may not observe correct social interactions, or unintentionally offend somebody due to my limited contact with Indigenous communities and people who still live on the land in the past. I know that relationships in Indigenous communities can be complicated, and I hope that I do not do anything to jeopardise a relationship. I am moderately afraid of the water buffalo we have been warned about, but I am not afraid of snakes. I would prefer not to meet a crocodile at any point either.

Samantha

It has been a long time between field schools and being immersed in the past

I have been both excited and apprehensive of the field school for a number of reasons. I studied rock art as part of my archaeology degree back in 1999. It has been a long time between field schools and being immersed in the past. I have had little interaction with the profession since then though kept a healthy interest in archaeology and the arts – a frequent museum and gallery visitor. I am worried that my lack of currency will be an issue as well as being able to contribute fully.

While I am a little nervous about the experience and assisting in the ongoing studies, this also excites me. My hope is that I am able to learn from the people that we will be staying with and come away with an understanding of telling and sharing stories. I am looking forward to the opportunity to meet new people and learn new things. I am also a little worried about ensuring that I do not offend through plain ignorance.

I have lived in Australia for 13 years but had very little interaction wit Aboriginal people. I have had the opportunity to spend a little time with Ted Egan and family in Alice Springs and during this trip have also visited both the Tiwi Islands and Arnhem Land.

Thinking about the community, I imagine that there is a primary school but may not have a secondary school. There will be basic houses and buildings made of sheet metal or concrete slab and dogs roaming. There may be a church in the centre of town and if big enough a shop and gas station. As it is the dry season, it will be dusty and grass may be brown.

My experience to Indigenous Australians has in part been framed by living in Australia and popular social culture as well as reading and visiting places. I have done some of the reading provided as well as other artefacts such as the Humans Rights Commission’s report into the stolen generations in perpetration for the trip. In relation to archaeological practise,  I am particularly interested in the concept of engaged archaeology and how it borders both with anthropology/ethnography and social/political activism. In particular the collaboration with the community in determining and then undertaking the projects chosen for study.

As a lesbian living in Sydney, I have been involved in Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras for a few years where the notion of cultural celebration regularly clashes with political activism and fighting for both rights and recognition. One comment from an Indigenous gay man has stuck with me over the years – “I’m a black fella and gay – they think I’m the low of the low, there is no hope for me!”

I am interested to explore the different levels of discrimination faced by Aboriginal people in a day to day context as part of the field school as well as the opportunity to visit rock art sites.

It has been a long time since I last took part in a field school and never in Australia so I really have no idea what to expect but am excited about what unfolds over the next week and spending time with the local Community.

Alexis

I hope to achieve my personal goal with the completion of the field school, which is: is archaeology for me?

What do I expect the community to look like? I expect it to look very rigid, and desert looking almost. I expect the atmosphere to be almost like a welcoming warm feeling although not at first. At first it may be a bit hush because myself and the others are strangers to the Aboriginal people. Overall, I expect it to look like a stereotypical homelessness reserve. Although that does not give justification to the actual place as my perspective and thoughts may be a bit clouded because of the facts I have gotten over the few days, reason why I say this is because I’ve just found out about the long grass people of Darwin and I am attempting to compare the two, all in all though I do expect a good outcome!

What would I like to get from the field school? Honestly, experience. Experience in the field, experience a whole new culture, and just archaeological methods in the field. I’d also like to make some worth while friends out here, make some lasting meaningful relationships with people that’ll last a lifetime and just some great memories.

My hopes. I hope to achieve my own personal goal with the completion of this field school which is: is archaeology for me? I also hope that I gain new worldly knowledge that can help benefit myself in the future if I do decide to stay within the archaeological academic area of things.

My fears. Well now that’s different because I am completely out of my comfort zone here. I am in an entirely different country on my own and that usually never happens. Another one of my fears is that, I’m afraid to mess up the entire process. I’ve never been on a field school and by never, I mean never. I have never volunteered my time or went out on my own, only information I have to go on are the lectures from over the 3 years I’ve been in university.

My first impressions are based largely on the stereotypical imagery of Australia, it’s not a good thing but it happens in the world. In Canada the imagery of Australia is all about giant spiders, crocodile Dundee and all that other type of stuff. So with that said, going up to the field school and seeing the Barunga community is going to be a culture shock for me personally. Why? I am a Native American and I will most likely attempt to compare and contrast the difference between my culture and the culture I am going to emerge myself in.

Overall, I expect a good time and a great adventure!

Jack

at this point in my life [I am] figuring out where this degree in archaeology is going to take me

I have little knowledge of this community. I had never heard much about it before undertaking this field school, and therefore had difficulty forming an opinion towards it. I know it is a small Aboriginal community, with a population of approximately 200, and annually holds the Barunga Festival, a cultural festival where tourists from across the country come to experience culture and participate in community activities. I expect a community of this size to only have a small handful of stores, or potentially a single general store, a small medical centre, and a town hall.

Knowing the population of the community, i understand it will be small and may not be considerably technologically advanced, given the simple small size of the community.

I have had little experience with Indigenous Australians and as a result I’m eager to spend time with them. This will be the first field school I have ever been on and is the first time I will engage with a community on this level. I look forward to meeting and working with the locals. This is also the first time I have ever gone camping, as I have never spent more than two nights in a tent. Many might not consider this to be an ideal scenario as it requires using a public shower complex, and is an area with little to no internet access, unless your carrier is Telstra.

If I had to choose something that I fear regarding my time on this field school, it would be the possible contraction of scabies, as the concept of have nearly microscopic mites burrowing under my skin is less than ideal. To make this concept worse, I found out there is nothing that can be done to prevent scabies in the form of medication and/or skin cream, as it can only be prevent by simply not coming into contact with someone with it. This, while unpleasant, would still only be  minor inconvenience as ultimately it isn’t permanent. I have no other concerns regarding my time at Barunga.

One of the largest issues I face at this point in my life is figuring out where this degree in archaeology is going to take me. I am interested in several fields of archaeology but know that I cannot focus on all of them. One of these interests is Indigenous Australian culture, with a further interest in general art. Upon the conclusion of this field school I hope to know if I should pursue this field further or not. Regardless of the answer, what I will have learnt this week will be invaluable.

Serena

I would love to learn how to engage with remote Indigenous communities, as I have no experience doing so

This trip is my first field school and first class of my Graduate Diploma through Flinders University therefore my expectations aren’t anything specific. What I want to get out of the field school is a general idea of archaeological and cultural heritage work in the field.

My main interest in the field is natural heritage and Indigenous heritage so this field trip was a natural interest for me. I would love to learn how to engage with remote Indigenous communities, as I have no experience doing so. I am also interested in exploring the surrounding land and seeing new sights and understanding the local connection to land. Above all what I wish to achieve on the trip are practical techniques in recording heritage sights and communication skills for engaging with Indigenous people.

I expect the community of Barunga to be basic and small, and that the people may be reluctant to engage with us. I hope to learn from these people and their livelihoods, so different from mine, and experience life from their perspective.

Financially this trip has been challenging for me, and also being separated from my daughter is also hard for me. I have no fears for the trip – I am just keen to learn and live new experiences.

Maddy

I hope to gain experience in working with an Aboriginal community which is something I have never done before

This will be my first field school where I actually get to work with people, I was so excited when Claire emailed me to say I had a place in the school. Once I was accepted however I suddenly started to second guess what it would be like and how I would feel being so far from home. I expect Barunga to be open and dusty, but filled with colour and vibrancy. I hope to gain experience in working with an Aboriginal community which is again something I have never done before. I enjoy working with people and learning people’s stories. I hope to also gain further experience in dealing with Aboriginal artefacts and Aboriginal sites. I am afraid of not fitting in and also not knowing how to behave in the community. I’m always excited to learn and this trip is no exception, even if I do have to camp and dodge nits and scabies.

Check back on Monday for a mid-field school update to see how our students are progressing!

 

Will the impact framework fix the problems the research audit found?

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Claire Smith, Flinders University and Dawn Bennett, Curtin University

The results from the latest university research audit indicate that research in Australia is improving.

This suggests that the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) exercise is working: ERA has achieved its main aim of boosting the quality of Australian research.

However, this headline statement masks a plethora of concerns.

Under the government’s latest reform of research funding, academics will be assessed not only on their quality of research through the ERA, but also on the economic, social and environmental impacts of their research through a new impact framework

The impact and engagement measures herald a new era that rewards researchers for collaborating beyond their institutions.

It is timely, then, to reassess ERA’s utility. Is it fit for purpose? Will these two assessment systems complement or contradict one another?

What has gone well in ERA?

The ERA processes have recognised peer review alongside metrics.

Research efforts at universities are arguably now more focused towards areas of strength. There is a clearer (though contested and arguably narrower) understanding of scholarly research, particularly that which is non-traditional.

On paper, ERA has established a system whereby research can be compared nationally and against international benchmarks.

What isn’t working?

Individual researchers are not assessed by ERA per se. However, they are assessed in line with ERA at the institutional level — in a system that awards a single score for an entire discipline cohort.

Inter-disciplinary research has been disadvantaged. ERA’s 1,238 fields of research (FoR) codes make it problematic for researchers to publish outside their discipline or academic unit.

Publishing, performing or exhibiting internationally is perceived to be more prestigious than in Australia. This unjustified exoticism diminishes the importance of Australian research and puts local and Australian publication outlets at risk.

A lack of transparency and accountability remains a critical problem.

The process by which final rankings are calculated remains opaque. It is unclear how the peer review of evaluation units is moderated and benchmarked globally. The rationale for inclusion, exclusion and change in the list of journals recognised by ERA has not been made public.

Whole disciplines ranked “below world average” are reliant on empirical research to fathom what went wrong. There is no feedback other than the score.

Esteem measures are narrow. The category “prestigious work of reference”, for example, is strikingly limited. It has never been opened to public discussion. Why have some publications been chosen and others omitted?

The ERA journal rankings were abolished in 2011. However, their ghost influences decisions from journal selection to academic recruitment and promotion.

Universities still reward publication in high-ranking journals from the list; some institutions recognise only research published in A or A* journals, or those marked “quality” in the current list.

As predicted, the editorial boards of these journals are struggling to cope with the influx of submissions. Lower-ranked journals and those with lower impact factors are struggling to survive. Many Australian journals are disadvantaged by the bias towards international journals.

The audit culture most affects early career academics. They and others struggle to negotiate the system, juggle heavy teaching loads and manage the precarity of casual academic employment.

The international mobility of Australian academics is high and early career academics are the most likely to move overseas or leave higher education.

The loss of young academics from an ageing academic workforce risks Australia’s ability to meet future demand. Moreover, it impairs capacity for innovation.

What are the concerns?

Measuring engagement according to research income from industry is concerning.

How, for example, will collaborative research with not-for-profits and innovative start-up companies be measured? How will the new measures account for these organisations’ exemptions from a cash contribution for Australian Research Council Linkage proposals?

There is a contradiction between a new impact measure that encourages a culture of risk-taking and ERA, which promotes risk-avoidance behaviours and impacts upon academic freedom by directing research behaviour. This is particularly problematic for new researchers, blue-sky research and research with benefits that emerge only in the long term.

Both systems place professional service outside academic workloads. This raises new questions. Who will edit the journals, convene the conferences, become officers of professional associations, or write the handbooks and textbooks?

These activities are essential to the health of all disciplines. Increasingly, they are unrecognised and unrewarded. This has long-term ramifications for both research quality and impact.

Neither system recognises investments in partner communities that are critical to social licence to operate in many disciplines.

Improving ERA

Has ERA run its course? Perhaps. It certainly needs improvement.

The ERA process should be subject to external review. We need greater transparency about the criteria that inform assessment categories. We need discussion of categories not yet opened to consultation.

Given concerns over gaming the system, we need an audit of data that has been excluded from ERA submissions. There should be a review of disciplinary membership of the committees in terms of institutional representation through time.

We need ERA to cease peer reviews of outputs already subject to double-blind peer review.

There is a dire need to review the real cost of each ERA exercise, which runs approximately every three years. We need to consider whether the costs of assessing research excellence exceed the benefits.

While the ARC’s administrative and departmental costs are low, we also need to assess the costs of university compliance and of playing an effective strategic assessment game.

The new impact and engagement measures redress some of ERA’s deficiencies, but the challenges of cost, transparency, audit culture and external oversight remain. And teaching remains out in the cold.

The Conversation

Claire Smith, Professor of Archaeology, Flinders University and Dawn Bennett, Research Professor, Curtin University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Socially mediated terrorism poses devilish dilemma for social responses

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Claire Smith, Flinders University; Gary Jackson, Flinders University, and Koji Mizoguchi, Kyushu University

The terrorist attacks in Paris have resonated around the world. In addition to physical violence, Islamic State (IS) is pursuing a strategy of socially mediated terrorism. The symbolic responses of its opponents can be predicted and may inadvertently further its aims.

In the emotion of the moment, we need to act. We need to be cautious, however, of symbolic reactions that divide Muslims and non-Muslims. We need emblems that act against the xenophobia that is a recruiting tool for jihadists.

Reactions from the West should not erode the Muslim leadership that is essential to overturning “Islamic State”. Queen Rania of Jordan points out:

What the extremists want is to divide our world along fault lines of religion and culture, and so a lot of people in the West may have stereotypes against Arabs and Muslims. But really this fight is a fight between the civilised world and a bunch of crazy people who want to take us back to medieval times. Once we see it that way, we realise that this is about all of us coming together to defend our way of life.

Queen Rania’s statement characterises the Paris attacks as part of a wider conflict around cultural values. How are these values playing out symbolically across the globe?

Propaganda seeks predictable responses

IS’s socially mediated propaganda is sophisticated and planned. This supports an argument that the Paris attacks are the beginning of a global campaign. Symbolic materials characterise IS as invincible. However, other evidence may indicate that it is weak.

The IS representation of the Eiffel Tower.
SITE Intelligence Group

The spontaneous celebration on Twitter by IS supporters was predictable. Its representational coverage of the Paris attacks, however, suggests deep planning.

This planning is embedded in professionally designed images. A reworked image depicts the Eiffel Tower as a triumphal arch with the IS flag flying victoriously on top.

The tower is illuminated and points to the heavens and a God-given victory. The inclusion of a road running through the Eiffel Tower provides a sense of speed, change, even progress. In Arabic, the text states, “We are coming, France” and “The state of Khilafa”.

IS is using symbolic representations of the Paris attacks to garner new recruits.

A sophisticated pre-prepared image of an intrepid fighter walking away from a Paris engulfed in flames was quickly distributed. It is inscribed with the word “France under fire” in Arabic and French.

IS had its ‘France under fire’ image ready to post immediately after the attacks.
INSITE on Terrorism
InFAMOUS
IGN Entertainment Games

This image keys into the heroic tropes of online video gaming, such as prototype and inFAMOUS. Chillingly, it is designed to turn virtual warriors into actual warriors.

The five million young Muslims in France are particular targets. Among online recruitment materials are videos calling them to join other young French nationals who are with IS.

Prototype
hifisnap

Support for the victims in Paris and for the democratic values of liberty, equality and fraternity are embedded in the blue, white and red lights movement. These lights shone in major cities in the US, Britain, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, Taiwan and South America. The blue, white and red lights also were displayed in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Malaysia.

However, the light displays were seen in few countries with Muslim majorities overall. Such countries are in an invidious position. Display the lights and you may be characterized as a lackey of the West. Don’t display the lights and appear unsympathetic to the victims.

Facebook blue white and red Paris
author provided/courtesy J. Smith

Support also is embedded in a parallel Facebook function that allows members to activate a tri-colour filter. Adapted from a rainbow filter used to support same-sex marriage, this filter attracts those with liberal sentiments.

The question of whether to use the French flag to show sympathy for the victims is invidious at a personal level. Many people find themselves exploited and condemned to poverty by neoliberal economic models. They are put in a difficult position. They feel sympathy for the victims. However, they are bitter about how they are being treated by “the West”, including France.

Perils of an ‘us and them’ mindset

As the blue, white and red activism plays out around the globe, there is a potential for this to transform into a symbolic manifestation of an “us and them” mentality. Such a division would support xenophobic forces, which steer recruits towards IS.

The global impact of the attacks can be related to the iconic status of Paris. The attacks hold a personal dimension for millions of people who have visited this city. They have a sense of “there but for the grace of God, go I”. This emotion echoes responses to the destruction of the World Trade Centre in New York in 2001.

The Japanese and Italian cafes included in the attacks are symbolic targets for their countries. In March 2015, IS spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnan stated that the group would attack “Paris, before Rome”. Rome is a target because of its symbolic role as the centre of Christianity. Japan is a target because of its role in coalition forces. It has already suffered the execution of Japanese hostages early in 2015.

In Japan, the cultural reaction has been relatively low key, as part of a strategy of minimising terrorist attention. The blue, white and red lights solidarity received minimal press coverage. There have been few reports of the Japanese restaurant that was one of the targets. In addition to factual coverage of the attacks, Japanese reports have concentrated on implications for security at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Are there any symbols indicating good news? The Syrian passport found near the body of one of the attackers could be a sign of weakness. It could have been “planted” there – why carry a passport on a suicide mission?

If so, its purpose is to increase European xenophobia and encourage the closing of borders to Syrian refugees. This suggests the mass exodus of Muslim refugees from Syria is hurting IS. The propaganda could be a sign of alarm in IS leadership ranks.

In our responses to the Paris attacks, the grief of the West should not be allowed to overshadow the opprobrium of Muslim countries. Muslims are best placed to challenge the Islamic identity of this self-declared state.

As Queen Rania states, the war against IS must be led by Muslims and Arabs. To ensure success, the international community needs to support, not lead, Muslim efforts.

The Conversation

Claire Smith, Professor of Archaeology, Flinders University; Gary Jackson, Research Associate in Archaeology, Flinders University, and Koji Mizoguchi, Professor of Archaeology, Kyushu University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Social media helps make cultural icons a new target for terrorism

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Claire Smith, Flinders University; Gary Jackson, Flinders University, and Kevin McDonald, Middlesex University

Recent postings on social media of the destruction of 3,000 year-old Assyrian sculptures by ISIS highlights a new threat to cultural heritage in times of conflict.

Read symbolically, these actions can be interpreted as “cultural payback” for irreverent cartoons of the prophet Mohammad as a dog or with bombs hidden in his turban, themselves likely motivation for recent killings in Copenhagen and at the offices of the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

While the symbolic function of cultural icons has made them a target for destruction throughout history, recent changes in the nature of warfare and the media landscape have increased their vulnerability in times of conflict.

Taken together, recent changes in the nature of conflict and in the communication environment have created a new context in which the destruction of cultural icons by one of two individuals can be a relatively low-risk choice for extremists seeking maximum impact for their political agendas.

A modern form of terrorism

The modern communications environment provides extremist groups with the chance to garner unprecedented public attention for their cause. An increasing reliance on the global communication of extreme acts to convey a political message is apparent in videos of radical acts, such as internet videos of beheading prisoners or the multi-angled videoing of the execution of the Jordanian pilot, Muath al-Kaseasbeh.

Moreover, recent transformations of the media landscape have opened up new global channels of user-led communication. The pro-active media strategies of terrorist groups reach massive numbers of people. There is no chain of command and no membership roll—only a shared philosophy and a message to take action individually.

This new trend of “sequestered action”, in which individuals act without direction from an organisation but as part of a general ideological movement, protects terrorists from detection and widens the net of their potential effect.

It can be linked to an increase in terrorist attacks by one or two individuals working alone, such as the Boston Marathon bombings by two brothers in March 2013; the siege at the Lindt Café, Sydney by a single individual in December 2014; twin shootings in Paris at the Charlie Hebdo offices and a kosher market in Paris; and the twin shootings in Copenhagen at the central synagogue and Krudttønden café.

A protest against the Charlie Hebdo attack in Strasbourg on 11 January 2015.
Claude Truong-Ngoc/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

The critical point here is the shift from the elaborate plots that have previously characterised jihadism to independent action by individuals.

While few people are willing to kill, many more would be willing to destroy a cultural monument. The centrality of visual images in the contemporary media environment provides new opportunities for, and increased impact from, the destruction of cultural icons, both locally and globally.

As the gap between rich and poor grows, both internationally and within nations, there are increased numbers of people who feel disenfranchised. A percentage of these will wish to take some form of action.

What can be done?

Firstly, we need to be more aware of the role that cultural icons play in conflict situations.

Robert Bevan argues that:

Cultural genocide is inextricably linked to human genocide and ethnic cleansing. Attacks on a community’s history —- its cultural identity and the ancient monuments that bear witness to centuries of presence —- are calculated.

Secondly, we should use networked media to diminish cultural myopia. A failure on the part of the West to seek understanding is exemplified in criticism of the sympathy that one quarter of Muslim people in Britain feel for the perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo killings and in puzzled questioning about the 500 people who attended the funeral of Omar El-Hussein in Copenhagen.

In contrast, the capacity of social media to engender cross-cultural understandings is demonstrated in the twitter conversation that took place on January 30, 2015 between Eleanor Robson, “Vicious Assyrian” and “Dread Muslim”:

Dread Muslim: Walls are all you people care about.

Eleanor Robson: I have several dear friends & colleagues in Mosul, worked with them for 25 years to help protect their cultural heritage. You?

Dread Muslim: I have several brothers and sisters in Syria worked with them to save their future from dying. Saved many years of their life.

Eleanor Robson: We’re not so different; I use my professional skills to support life & work of Iraqi friends who care about its past & future.

Eleanor Robson: I agree that too many people care more about the past than the present but I’m not one of them.

Vicious Assyrian: Thank you.

Dread Muslim: May Allah guide You. Please forgive me if what I said sounded rude to you.

Eleanor Robson: That’s very generous; thank you. There’s nothing to forgive though 🙂 I’ve been feeling the same way today …

Cultural crime

An emergent irony is that many sites of World Heritage significance are in the hands of people who do not adhere to the same notions of heritage.

Consequently, a cultural crime inflicted in the West, such as an offensive caricature, can be met by a cultural crime in another part of the world, such as the destruction of ancient sculptures.

Never before has the world has so much capacity to communicate, so much need to communicate and so little success in people understanding each other.

We need to do better. We have the tools to do better. If we do not do better the destruction of ancient sculptures that are important to people in the west will become as commonplace as the destruction of human beings in the east.

Claire Smith, Professor of Archaeology, Flinders University; Gary Jackson, Anthropologist, Flinders University, and Kevin McDonald, Professor of Sociology and Head of the Department of Criminology and Sociology, Middlesex University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.
The Conversation

Load up Adelaidia when you visit Adelaide – and step into the past

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Jordan Ralph, Flinders University

Interpretive signage may be a thing of the past in Adelaide thanks to a new interactive mobile app and website from History SA. Launched in early 2014, Adelaidia puts the history of Adelaide’s CBD at the fingertips of anyone with a computer or a smart phone.

Adelaidia allows users to discover the history of people, places, events and organisations that have contributed to the story of Adelaide since European settlement. Users can access biographies uploaded by History SA and Adelaidia’s content partners.

Adelaidia promotes the tangible heritage of Adelaide – that is, the things we can see and touch, such as buildings, places, objects, and so on. It also promotes the intangible heritage of the city – the things we cannot see or touch, such as cultural traditions, events and themes.

The real strength of Adelaidia is the interactive features that allow users to contribute their own personal stories and experiences. From a cultural heritage preservation and research point-of-view, recording the experiences of individuals and groups is imperative; these stories give places and objects meaning. Unfortunately, because the stories are typically “siloed memories” rather than public histories, they are among the first sources of historical information to disappear.

The basics

When accessing Adelaidia on both web and mobile platforms (and its South Australia-wide partner website, SA History Hub), users can choose a topic from the main menu: people, places, events, organisations. Selecting any one of these items will load a list of entries pertaining to the history of Adelaide. Each entry contains at least a biographical account and the option for users to view and upload media and personal stories relating to the entry.

Adelaidia mobile app main menu.
Jordan Ralph

So far, not many users have contributed their oral histories – or in this case digital histories – to Adelaidia. As far as I can see from the “stories” option on the main menu, only two have been uploaded since the launch of the system.

The lack of willingness to engage, on the part of the residents of Adelaide, might be for any combination of reasons. Among them, these might include simply not knowing that the option is there, people thinking that their story might be too mundane to contribute, that it might be perceived as too difficult. Or, of course, they may legitimately have nothing to write.

One way for this issue to be rectified is for History SA to continue to upload its own content – and to form partnerships with additional content partners. That way, more entries will be submitted, including the noticeably absent Victoria Square and Adelaide Oval, allowing people to share their experiences about these places.

Camera and GPS integration with mobile app

Augmented reality in action. Adelaidia displaying direction and distance to Adelaide General Post Office from Victoria Square.
Jordan Ralph

For the most part, the mobile app is a “lite” version of the Adelaidia website; it contains basically the same content in a more streamlined design suitable for a handheld device. The app makes use of the smart phone’s in-built camera and GPS system for users to find out about places near to them and go on themed tours.

When activated, the augmented reality view displays the direction and distance of entries featured in Adelaidia, overlayed on real-time images captured by the phone’s camera.

Similarly, the map view uses the device’s GPS system to display a plan view of Adelaide’s CBD with Adelaidia entries marked by grey pinpoints. Clicking on the pinpoints in both views will load the biographical information of that entry.

Screen shot of Adelaidia web site.

When I road-tested the augmented-reality feature, the system clearly struggled to work in the CBD, supposedly due to interference caused by lack of satellite reception. This meant that, until I used it in the open space of Victoria Square, the direction and distance markers for most entries were inaccurate. This is a small bug in otherwise great software, especially considering this is meant to be a fun extra. On the other hand, the map feature works perfectly.

One option for History SA to consider is to add a check-in feature that may boost the number of users who interact with the software. This could be done by adding the feature locally or by integrating a Swarm or Yelp check-in option.

The future

Adelaidia, along with the SA History Hub, brings interpretive signage into the 21st century. It has the potential to be a valuable, accessible resource to tourists, researchers and even those who are just looking for some entertainment.

History SA has made a revolutionary step in preserving and celebrating the cultural heritage of Adelaide. For this software to reach its full potential, it must continue promoting the valuable user contribution features and engage with more experts to contribute content – especially regarding Adelaide’s Indigenous past. Following that, Adelaidia will mature from its infancy and help turn siloed memories into public histories.

For this review the Adelaidia mobile app was accessed on both a Samsung Galaxy S5 with high accuracy GPS feature enabled and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0, with the GPS feature enabled.

The Conversation

Jordan Ralph, Research assistant in archaeology, Flinders University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Tackle fast-tracking of approvals to close nexus between politicians and developers

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Claire Smith, Flinders University

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s planned repeal of 9500 redundant regulations and 1000 Acts of Parliament could loosen dangerously close ties between politicians and developers. While such ties are problematic in many parts of Australia, the recent investigation of the Obeid family by NSW’s Independent Commission Against Corruption has brought this issue to the forefront.

Research that I undertook when I was leading a 2011 bid for a Cooperative Research Centre in Heritage demonstrates that the nexus between politicians and developers in Australia has become perilously close. Over the last decade, red tape involved in the heritage approvals process has resulted in a dramatic increase in direct ministerial approvals for developments.

In New South Wales, for example, the use of ministerial approvals for major projects or infrastructure rocketed from a total of nine during 2001-2005 to 457 in 2010. Forty-three were approved in the two weeks prior to the state government going into caretaker mode.

Red tape is needed to reduce risk and to ensure transparent and equitable processes. However, too much red tape stifles investment. Moreover, frustrated developers seek greater use of ministerial “call in” powers to circumvent slow approvals.

Australia’s current heritage approvals process is fragmented across jurisdictions, between agencies and between Indigenous and non-Indigenous heritage. This has produced mountains of uncoordinated, non-standardised data. This data is inaccessible, often redundant and usually incomplete.

Decision-making power is dispersed across numerous agencies. Decisions depend on the interpretation and knowledge of individuals rather than on a solid evidence base. We need integrated data-sets that make it possible to determine what is common from what is rare or unique. Common approaches to data collection, storage and use should produce consistent decision-making.

The escalation of ministerial approvals for major developments in NSW emerged in 2005. The Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979 was amended to include Part 3A for major projects of state and regional significance. Part 3A determined that the only planning approval required was that of the NSW planning minister. Each project had a spend in excess of $50 million.

With Part 3A, both concept and project approval from the minister had statutory force. Part 3A projects circumvented local council approval and both state heritage acts. These projects did not need approvals under either the Heritage Act, 1977 or the National Parks and Wildlife Act, 1974. Moreover, Part 3A projects were protected from emergency protection orders and third party legal challenges under State environmental or planning statutes.

While the aim of Part 3A was to provide up-front certainty for long-term or complex projects, this provision was abused. When the Liberal government came to power in NSW Part 3A was replaced by two separate assessment frameworks. One is for state significant development. The other is for state significant infrastructure. Importantly, the new system constrains the “call-in” powers of the Minister.

It was anticipated that the number of applications designated as state significant would drop by half. Nevertheless, the level of ministerial approvals for major development projects is still way beyond what it was a decade ago.

Throughout Australia fast-tracking major projects through ministerial approval has become a viable alternative to following due process. Occasional exemptions have become routine and the nexus between politicians and developers has grown murkier.

A sustainable alternative to relying on ministerial approvals for large developments is to lessen delays in heritage approvals. Reducing red tape is one part of this.

Developers need access to sound information. A standardised, integrated and coordinated information system would support sound decision-making. A comprehensive database would make it possible to assess if a cultural heritage place is unique, or one of thousands. Such a system would make it possible to classify and rank heritage assets. It would provide an evidence base for determining what can go and what needs protection.

Uncertainty over heritage approvals is costing investment and jobs throughout Australia. In the resource sector, for example, The Fraser Institute’s annual Global Survey of Mining Companies consistently identifies uncertainty over the protection of wilderness, parks and archaeological sites as a strong deterrent to investment across Australia.

There is an economic need for a streamlined information system that reduces the approvals delay and provides certainty for developers. Such certainty needs to be based on good, irrefutable data. In addition, decision-making should be informed by community values in order to pre-empt conflict and provide long-term confidence.

Australia’s cultural heritage is recognised globally as unique. It includes the world’s oldest continuous cultural traditions, some of the first evidence for modern human behaviours and rich rock art complexes. In addition, it includes the histories of more than 200 migrant groups.

This important heritage needs to be protected. However, we need to grow Australia’s economy and we can’t keep everything. Decisions have to be made about what we pass on to the next generation as heritage and what we let go. These decisions need to be transparent, fair and consistent.

Reliance on ministerial approvals raises concerns about transparency and challenges the integrity of the system. It is possible that the current corruption cases in NSW are only the tip of the iceberg.

Claire Smith, Professor of Archaeology, Flinders University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

 

How hackers turned online gaming into a real-life fiasco

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Claire Smith, Flinders University

A spate of internet hacking during the New Year period – including an attack on Skype by hacker group the Syrian Electronic Army, and another on social media photo sharing app Snapchat by website SnapchatDB – demonstrates the emergence of a new phase in hacking wars: corporate greed and hubris as the target, with a dose of social disruption.

One such incident occurred on December 30, when hacker group DERP targeted games played by Twitch live streamer James Varga, who goes by the handle PhantomL0rd.

(Twitch allows the gaming community to broadcast live video of games they are playing, to watch others play and to chat in real time. Watching the streaming of games is not so different from watching sport on television.)

James Varga, aka PhantomL0rd.
Wikimedia Commons

DERP targeted PhantomL0rd, the most popular gamer streaming at that moment in time, so they could gain instant public exposure.

In a display of technological prowess, they serially brought down the online servers of games that he was playing, including League of Legends, Battle.net, EA.Com and Disney’s Club Penguin.

Creating a game within a game

PhantomL0rd engaged in the play, acting as a conduit between the hackers and the gaming community. As he changed games he participated in a contest with the hackers, in a sense egging them on, while impacting hundreds of thousands of other players.

He passed on questions from his audience about DERP’s intentions and capacity to shut down big companies such as Google and Facebook. The reply from DERP indicated they wanted to frustrate “money-hungry” companies such as Electronic Arts (better known as EA Games).

In a modern-day technological twist, the streaming audience became participants in a game within a game when the hackers challenged PhantomL0rd to win the multiplayer online Defense of the Ancients (DOTA 2) match he was playing at that time, or they would bring down the server.

Eventually, DERP took down the Defense of the Ancients server by distributed denial of server (DDOS) attack (bombarding the server with information and eventually disabling it), while tweeting to PhantomL0rd:

Twitter

This was a win-win situation for the hackers and PhantomL0rd. The hackers had direct access to an international audience and their presence grew this audience exponentially. In three hours, PhantomL0rd’s personal stream increased from his usual numbers of between 5,000 to 15,000 viewers to a record 155,000 – the largest personal streaming audience recorded.

For PhantomL0rd there was financial reward as well as recognition. As the audience grew, so did the US$4.99 monthly subscriptions for PhantomL0rd’s stream.

Capitalising on the situation, PhantomL0rd turned on the subscriber-only mode, which meant that the only way to participate in the conversation via chat was to pay the subscription fee. This enraged someone in the audience, who retaliated by hacking and releasing PhantomL0rd’s personal information, leaving him vulnerable to payback from disgruntled would-be players.

And then …

Less than an hour later, PhantomL0rd was erroneously denounced as abducting five people and subsequently arrested at gunpoint during a police raid on his home. See PhantomL0rd’s video about his arrest below:

From DERP’s point of view PhantomL0rd’s experience was collateral damage – DERP’s targets were game companies with millions of subscribers. The comraderie between DERP and PhantomL0rd is revealed the following tweet:

Twitter

Both PhantomL0rd and DERP benefited through increased public exposure. According to the metric monitoring site SocialBlade PhantomL0rd’s followers increased by 50,000 since this event, and is now approaching 400,000.

PhantomL0rd on the rise after Dec 30.
Socialblade.com

In contrast, DERP is treated with more caution. Though some 450,000 people have watched PhantomL0rd’s video describing the hacking by DERP and his arrest by police, only 60,000 people follow DERP on Twitter. Clearly, the online community sees an element of danger in being linked to DERP or in attracting DERP’s attention.

At the moment, groups such as DERP are simply demonstrating their power. In the process they are attracting new members with IT and hacking abilities and broadening their skills base. The question that arises is: what targets will attract the attention of these new, strengthened organisations?

The Conversation

Claire Smith, Professor of Archaeology, Flinders University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Not just cricket: protecting heritage at the Adelaide Oval

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Jordan Ralph, Flinders University

Mitchell Johnson lines up to bowl at the Cathedral end of the new-look Adelaide Oval. A slow clap resounds from the western grandstand of the partially redeveloped complex, in support of the Australian fast bowler. English captain Alastair Cook responds to Johnson’s head-high bouncer with a hook shot, but is caught by Ryan Harris at fine leg.

The crowd’s applause quickly turns to a roar as Harris tumbles, recovering from his catch. Eyes move to the historic scoreboard where the numbers are rotated manually to show that England is now one-for-one, chasing 531 in its second innings of the second Ashes test.

In a time where built heritage is too often neglected in preference of development, the century-old scoreboard stood earlier this week as a reminder of the Oval’s tremendous antiquity and the cultural significance of this place.

The century-old Adelaide Oval scoreboard remains standing amongst the 21st century development and technology.
Adriano of Adelaide

Redevelopment

As part of a A$535 million collaboration between the Government of South Australia and the Adelaide Oval Stadium Management Authority (AOSMA), the Adelaide Oval has been undergoing a major facelift since 2010 to bring its facilities into the 21st century. The Oval will once again be the home of sport in South Australia: international and local cricket matches will be fought on the same turf as AFL, which is leaving AAMI Stadium behind in 2014 in favour of the modernised ground.

The redevelopment has had its share of opponents – most notably from the peak body of heritage protection in South Australia, the National Trust (SA), who threatened to delist the heritage-listed features of Adelaide Oval from the South Australian Heritage Register since many features had been demolished. They claimed:

the ground is no longer an iconic cricket ground, it’s turning into a generic universal stadium that could be anywhere in the world.

The new western grandstand. You can see part of the original George Giffen stand in yellow directly between the upper and lower levels.
mertie

What has been removed and what remains?

All pre-2010 stands at the Adelaide Oval have been demolished, including most of the George Giffen, Sir Edwin Smith and Mostyn Evan stands, which are listed on the SA Heritage Register. Parts of those stands remain, including the red brick archways and the centre of the George Giffen stand, which make up a portion of the new western grandstand.

The heritage-listed manual scoreboard, designed by renowned South Australian architect Kenneth Milne and erected in 1911, remains standing at the northern end of the complex, flanked by the famous grassed northern mound and Moreton Bay figs.

Pacifying those with a desire to have the most up-to-date technology, the old scoreboard is complemented by a new video screen that has been erected directly beside it. The heritage features of the Oval sit effectively within the newer structures to create a scene that is both contemporary, yet uniquely Adelaide.

Major features removed:

  • All pre-2010 grandstands (some were listed on the SA Heritage Register).

Major features remaining:

  • Victor Richardson Gates (local heritage listing, to be re-installed after construction work has ceased).
  • Scoreboard (constructed 1911, confirmed as a State Heritage Place in the SA Heritage Register, 1986).
  • Parts of the George Giffen (constructed 1882, redeveloped 1889, 1929), Sir Edwin Smith (constructed 1929) and Mostyn Evan (constructed 1929) grandstands (collectively confirmed as a State Heritage Place in the SA Heritage Register, 1986).
  • Northern mound and Moreton Bay Fig trees.
From this …
Simon Lieschke
To this.
HeatherW

Development vs heritage

Has Adelaide Oval lost its cultural significance, as feared by the National Trust (SA) and Oliver Brown at The Telegraph? Or should the oval go one step further, as proposed by Bernard Humphreys at The Advertiser, and remove the old scoreboard?

In my view, the scoreboard must stay at the Adelaide Oval. Removing it from this place will mean that it loses all of its cultural significance, even if it is moved to another venue, such as the Thebarton Oval.

Structures of this sort do not become culturally significant and “mean” something by themselves. People give them meaning; stakeholders give them meaning. Our collective experiences at Adelaide Oval, such as the one illustrated in the first paragraph of this article, make such structures significant.

Removing the scoreboard will mean the intangible heritage of Adelaide Oval will be lost and so too will the meaning we give to it. Only when features such as the scoreboard, the Moreton Bay figs and the remainder of the historic grandstands are removed will Adelaide Oval become a “generic universal stadium”. That does not look like happening any time soon.

Development and heritage

“Development” has become synonymous with “destruction” in conversations about heritage in recent years. But there is an opportunity to harmonise heritage and development, and AOSMA has demonstrated this successfully.

As well as retaining the heritage features of the Oval, AOSMA has managed to create a state-of-the-art sporting and entertainment venue that will allow South Australia to attract major international events and, in effect, boost the state’s economy.

Save for cricket season, over the summer, and the odd concert, Adelaide Oval was underused and neglected. This was to be its future and its legacy had this redevelopment not taken place.

Now, with stands that will be able to accommodate up to 50,000 people once the project is completed, greater parking and public transport facilities, and the AFL moving back, AOSMA and the South Australian government have breathed A$535 million of life into Adelaide Oval and the state of South Australia.

The example that AOSMA has set can be put to use at other historic heritage places – so long as the needs of the key stakeholders are met, heritage experts are consulted and the cultural significance of the place is not compromised.

The Conversation

Jordan Ralph, Research assistant in archaeology, Flinders University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.