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DigVentures
#31
Chiz...you fell into that elephant trap... Wink

after all, BAJR would not be supporting sub BAJR rates.

Lisa talks about it in the comments on the Past Horizons Article
http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/...-container
Quote:....archaeologists deserve to be earn and be paid like everyone else

I agree about the best archaeologists in the world bit...


@ the FSA comment - you will find on Sponsume that this is not an investment (ie, there is no return) this is a pre order / gift scheme and so there are no Investors (requires FSA) but backers who are given vouchers for redemption.

It is worth checking these things I agree. so there is the answer.
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#32
Huum wish them luck with it but the cynic in me thinks it might be a bit wooly and unless they have some substantial backing behind them already doomed to failure. Still good on em for at least trying, nothing ventured nothing gained
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#33
Hi everyone, thanks for holding on (it?s been nuts!) but I?m here now to answer all your concerns, kicking off first with Tom Wilson?s existential question (!)

tom wilson Wrote:First, who are you? I presume you speak for the DigVentures enterprise, but who actually are *you*?

There are three of us on DigVentures staff: Lisa Westcott Wilkins (Managing Director), Brendon Wilkins (Project Director) and Raksha Dave (Project Manager). The Flag Fen Lives project is supported by a much larger group of specialists and field staff. Profiles are up on the website and many more will be added as the project evolves.

We tweet as @TheDigVenturers, and if you want to contact us we can be found individually and collectively on all social media channels ? facebook, twitter, YouTube, flickr, Google+, LinkedIn ? as well as our website, email, phone, Skype and post. Talk to us ? we?re listening!

kevin wooldridge Wrote:Are you honestly describing yourselves amongst 'the best archaeologists in the world'?

We?ve put a bunch of public facing profiles on the ?about us? section of our website that hopefully capture our infectious enthusiasm (which knows no bounds!). Sorry Kevin if this offends your sense of propriety (have you informed trading standards?). I?d like to just ignore this (it being a rather silly hook to try and hang us from) but given its been brought up by multiple people here who can?t quite grasp the concept of marketing?

To recap (and If truth be told I?m blushing slightly) this is what I wrote:

?DigVentures is your chance to work with some of the best field archaeologists in the land on some of the best archaeological sites in the world.?

They say that one of the secrets of running a successful start-up is to consistently hire people better than you. The Flag Fen Lives team of specialists are precisely that: internationally respected and deeply knowledgeable. I?m blown away to be working alongside these guys and will be soaking up every last drop of knowledge and experience they are willing to share.

The team we have around us are quite simply amazing. I am humbled by everyone?s belief in what we are trying to achieve and consistently awed by their capacity to pull it off. It?s the dream team. Everyone?s young, interested, full of ideas, full of passion, and fiercely committed to making this work. And that just makes me work harder to raise my game. It?s that kind of ethic.

tom wilson Wrote:Who actually are *you*?

You know me on here as Diggingthedirt, and I blog and tweet under the same name. My real name is Brendon Wilkins, and I?m a commercial field archaeologist who has worked equally in the UK and Ireland with about a decade of site director/project manager experience. I?m a licensed director, and full member of professional institutes in both Britain and Ireland, and have held senior management posts in 2 of the big UK units.

I?ve directed plenty of large-scale prehistoric/wetland sites (notably Newrath, Co. Kilkenny), mostly in advance of infrastructure projects. All my sites have been fully published in books, journals, monographs, and conferences or on line. To use a buzzword: I am research active! My CV is on LinkedIn, and if you really want to go digging ? my politics and values are easy enough to track down.

chiz Wrote:I haven't looked into the project in any detail so won't comment on any of that, but I do hope they are paying their staff -all their staff- proper wages!

Sustainability is at the heart of our model ? and that begins with proper wages for field staff. This is a hard line to tread ? we have already come under criticism on here for being too expensive (when in fact our offering is slightly cheaper than some of the other international field schools in the UK). Price too highly, and the disadvantaged won?t be able to join in. Price too low, we?re all working for free! We?ve taken a view on this, and have set aside a number of bursaries/free places for people who couldn?t afford us otherwise. These will be allocated once we know what we have managed to raise.

tom wilson Wrote:DigVentures wrote: ?We cannot rely on traditional funding models or ways of doing things anymore - can we all at least agree on that??

No, I don't think we can? Some of the reservations expressed by others in this thread regarding the Big Society agenda are perfectly reasonable?

I whole-heartedly agree with everyone?s concerns in relation to the Big Society and have blogged elsewhere about the dangers of the voluntary sector undertaking smaller commercial projects (watching briefs etc). My personal opinion is that if we don?t nurture and protect an end market for our skills, our profession will wither and die. UCAS recorded a 30% reduction in 2011 for applicants to single honours archaeology degree schemes. Read ?em and weep people.

We are responding as imaginatively as possible to the world as we find it with an unprecedented financial experiment. We aim to thoroughly evaluate our first project in partnership with Public Archaeology colleagues at UCL, measuring impact and addressing questions of cultural economy. The Government?s (former?) flagship policy ?to create a climate that empowers local people and communities, building a big society?? (www.number10.gov.uk 2010) will also be assessed in relation to all this.

How will such rhetoric square with a community-based project where the supporters may well be dispersed across a global network? How indeed should we define community and what does this mean for a localism agenda. The team will be presenting the project and trying to address such questions at the EAA in Helsinki, and publish a peer review paper on the model (and what we?ve learnt) soon after. We would be delighted to collaborate with colleagues who see other meta research questions that we may not have considered ? just get in touch!

tom wilson Wrote:We don't want the Councillor Melton?s of this world deciding that archaeology can and should be carried out by volunteers in all cases (i.e. including development impacts). How do you define your project as different to others where volunteers shouldn't be used? ...Or do you think that volunteers *should* be used for all sites?

In relation to the Big Society and the threat from Melton?s ilk - I think a bit of clarity is needed here. We?re not crowdfunding a development control job, or replacing or profiting from a service that is, or should be, provided by grant aid or the public purse. We are generating public interest, and asking people to join us ? either from the comfort of their armchairs (in real time), or with their sleeves rolled up on the site itself. This is archaeology in your hands and our platform is digital.

Our project is set within Flag Fen Archaeology Park ? a visitor attraction managed on behalf of Peterborough City Council by Vivacity (our partners). Everyone is doing a sterling job up there ? but like any other public facility it needs continuous investment ? and that will only be forthcoming if we can demonstrate beyond doubt that people want it.

I?m going to go out on a limb here, and predict that for every week we are on site we will get 10 times the usual number of visitors to the park. I?m confident that it can be done.

kevin wooldridge Wrote:Are you registered with the FSA (Financial Services Authority)

No ? this isn?t an IPO (Initial Public Offering). Amongst other things, Kevin (for how else can I explain your tone), you have fundamentally misunderstood what crowdfunding actually is. Our crowdfunding partner sponsume.com is looking after our financials, and they have a substantial track record in processing similar projects.

Crowdfunding has been most successful in creative industries such as film, music and drama, where supporters can ensure that their favourite project happens by buying perks and rewards ? an invitation to a premiere, or signed first edition ? with creative and social entrepreneurs retaining commercial and artistic ownership of their project.Ideas that may not fit the pattern required by conventional financiers therefore achieve traction in the marketplace, supported by what has been called the ?wisdom of crowds.?

With no certainty that commercial, academic, or community archaeology funding models will survive much longer in their current form, creative solutions are required to square the shortfall in excavation funding. We are neither offering an investment, nor are we seeking donations. We are simply entering into a social contract with our funders with explicitly clear deliverables. If anyone else has any Big ideas ? what are you waiting for?

tom wilson Wrote:Why are you doing this? Is the site threatened? Otherwise, given its apparent importance surely that other old principle, preservation in situ, would apply. Do you have a justification based on community archaeology, wider research priorities etc. that over-ride pres. in situ.?

And finally to the last of Tom?s questions (and the one on which our campaign is founded). Yes yes yes, the site is threatened. Wet sites are in a continual state of degradation due to dewatering and reduction in water table. Organics are drying out, and with them will go the type of fine-grained archaeological information that eludes us on the dry land.

Our specific knowledge of this at Flag Fen is based on a number of studies ? a 2002 water-table monitoring (Lillie & Cheetham) and a conservation management plan by PLB Consulting Ltd and Associates (May 2007). Marcus Brittain gives a good accessible overview of the issues and data in the last Flag Fen book (2010). The site is not scheduled at the moment, but it is in the process of being designated as such. We have been in dialogue with English Heritage, who are receptive to our ideas, and permission was obtained in principle before we went live with the funding round.

This year?s work will be to take stock of the extant archive, generating key metrics (such as the impact of dewatering) for us to develop a major 5-year research design. Hence the three-week field season. Whether all future work can be funded through our crowdfunding model or not remains to be seen. We are just 48 hours old, but the level of support has been staggering, and we are approaching 20% of our target. Thanks a mill to all those on here giving us the benefit of the doubt too. It?s new, it?s different, and with your help spreading the word, it might just work!

All the best,

Diggingthedirt.

http://digventures.com/

http://www.sponsume.com/project/digventu...en-lives-1
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#34
BAJR Wrote:Chiz...you fell into that elephant trap... Wink

after all, BAJR would not be supporting sub BAJR rates.

Sorry David, but I actually meant a proper decent wage, something well above either IfA minima or BAJR rates. Something around the IfA recommended starting salaries for example. After all, the staff will be amongst the best field archaeologists in the world....a certain well-known archaeological TV programme used to pay a very low day rate ('oh, but you got on telly and there is nice food so its ok') so I think its a fair question to ask.

I think it is important that people realise that archaeology done properly is not cheap, and that if they are charging commercial market rates for this kind of 'experience' they should be paying the kind of wages that go with that, not the kind of wages that Diggers usually get. Its good to see the Southport Agenda being embraced though :face-stir:
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#35
Ah... and I then stumble into that one! Smile

Lets hope they do. :face-approve:

with our support of course
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#36
I have to say I feel rather let down after all the hype. It appears to be just a field school (with a few extras), and not really any more accessible to me than any others.

I applaud the project and hope that a lot of good comes out of it (both for Flag Fen and archaeology in general), but my money will keep going to my local group -- we may not have the best fields archaeologists in the world, but I'll still get more for my buck!
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#37
I think that this is an interesting idea. I know that BAJR himself is already involved in something similar in the Rampart Scotland project, so to an extent it's already been demonstrated that this sort of thing can work. In terms of Dig Ventures, I do wonder whether it might have been better to hone the project on a few less high-profile sites first, rather than jumping straight into what is probably one of the most important sites in Britain. No matter whether the staff are indeed some of the best archaeologists in the world or not, the project will still be letting untrained volunteers loose on this site, so it might have been an idea to have at least one trial run on a less high profile project, to ensure that supervision methods work and an appropriate number of staff are available. However, I do understand that it may be necessary to have a high-profile site to attract a sufficient number of volunteers in in order to raise the required amount of money.

In terms of the staff CVs, I did have a query about Raksha's. I know that she still appears on Time Team, but it's by no means clear whether she actually still works as an archaeologist full-time or not. Although it says that she worked for MoLAS from 2000, it also says that she subsequently worked in a non-archaeological role for Westminster Council. I certainly know someone who worked on a Time Team project a few years ago who said that she no longer worked in archaeology at that time, which might suggest that she only worked as an archaeologist for a few years (other than on three-day TV projects). I don't mean to single her out, as I'm sure she's eminently capable, but I wonder whether it's fair to all the full-time field archaeologists slogging away 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year to describe someone who may only dig for 30 or so days in the year as as one of the best field archaeologist in the country. Again, I do appreciate the need for a recognizable public face to get the volunteers in. In general, however, I wish this project well, and I think that projects of this type are likely to become increasingly common.
You know Marcus. He once got lost in his own museum
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#38
Actually I have noticed one big plus for this project that has even tempted me to sign up - it might be possible to spend 3 weeks in a field in Cambridgeshire away from TV and other media whilst the rest of the UK becomes satiated with Olympic fever....a tent could also be the cheapest place to stay during that period of 'hotel inflation'!
With peace and consolation hath dismist, And calm of mind all passion spent...
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#39
I like Brendons' answer. and without getting into semantics about best field archaeologists. this is pretty comprehensive about what it is about, what it does, who is doing it and why.

You can take an archaeologist to fenland, but you can't make them agree. (um...yes)

I should say that Rampart Scotland is more traditional, with a spin - a paying fieldschool with additional social people centric aspects such as free or donation based projects ( see here: http://www.eastlothiancourier.com/news/a...riffside-/ )

WE are feeling our way into a new way. DigVentures launched with a fanfare on an iconic site. We are just pootering along and as |Marcus says, building up a reputation slowly. Both ways are possible... and I do hope that the end result is more archaeology - more public profile and at teh end more work.
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#40
Marcus Brody Wrote:In terms of the staff CVs, I did have a query about Raksha's. I know that she still appears on Time Team, but it's by no means clear whether she actually still works as an archaeologist full-time or not. Although it says that she worked for MoLAS from 2000, it also says that she subsequently worked in a non-archaeological role for Westminster Council. I certainly know someone who worked on a Time Team project a few years ago who said that she no longer worked in archaeology at that time, which might suggest that she only worked as an archaeologist for a few years (other than on three-day TV projects). I don't mean to single her out, as I'm sure she's eminently capable, but I wonder whether it's fair to all the full-time field archaeologists slogging away 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year to describe someone who may only dig for 30 or so days in the year as as one of the best field archaeologist in the country.

Hello Marcus, just wanted to let you know that Raksha is currently employed by MoLA as a field archaeologist, and has spent a long, cold winter on various sites around London. She's been posting pictures on Twitter of various interesting things she's found, and will continue doing so, I'm sure! She will be shooting the next season of Time Team, however, which will mean she will have to adjust her schedule.

If you think you're tough enough, why don't you come along and spend a day in her trench at Flag Fen? :-)

Additionally, her work at Westminster Council in community outreach means that she has years of training and skills that will be essential in her role as the manager of the field school at Flag Fen. She is really passionate about education and engagement, and has loads of ideas about how to make this work on site.

She's the real deal!

Regards, Lisa
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