Truth vs. stories

Hugh Jarvis (C129QP43@UBVM.BITNET)
Wed, 13 Jul 1994 14:22:15 EDT

Thought this could start an interesting discussion on anthro-l, namely
that of popularization, presenting ourselves and our work to the public,
and so on... (Please note that I did not write it, and set the reply-to
keyword back to the list accordingly... ;-) )
Hugh Jarvis

----------------------------Original message----------------------------
It IS the job of the academic archaeologist to treat archaeology
in a very narrow manner. The stories we tell are of necessity dry and
uninteresting to the general public, Indiana Jones a case in point. It
is not our task in this context to tell "interesting" stories, despite
their esoteric fascination for us ivory tower types.
The task is to identify the audience and write the stories to meet
their needs. Here in Alaska I wrote site reports in many different genres,
depending on the needs of the target audience. When I'm doing a
study for the Park Service and for Hoonah Tlingit Corporation, I write
two reports, one with the dry data for the Park Service technical types,
and another report in a popular format, with photographs, pull-quotes,
creative page layout and a fancy cover for the Park-using public and for
the members of the Native community. Both these reports are generated
from the same field work and the same data sets, but theyr're designed to
meet the needs of two different groups.
Mike Lewis
University of Alaska Museum
Fairbanks Alaska