I work in two investigative fields - archaeology and journalism - and for me, the greatest innovation, which affects both in different ways, is the internet. I’ll just clarify briefly how I believe it has affected both archaeology and anthropology in an exponential way.
The key factor is communication. It is obvious how this has changed investigative journalism, with information gathered, considered, and disseminated, rapidly and globally, and in a variety of media. The cost to journalists of this change in practice is a controversial area, and still to be determined, and I’ll discuss this more elsewhere.
How it has affected archaeology, as an academic process, is less dramatic. But the ease with which archaeologists can share research, which a decade ago was often a series of isolates pondered over by a discrete specialist group, is changing the shape of research. The many strands of twenty-first century archaeology - ranging from vigorous political debate, heritage and repatriation, and the scrutiny of contemporary culture - have, I believe, become achievable because of the possibility of fast, efficient, public, and low-cost communications that span contexts and time-zones - the internet. I am mindful of the fact that some archaeologists have more access to technology than others, but even this tech-lag, and its significant repercussions, has a platform online, via highly regarded sites such as www.worldarchaeologicalcongress.org.
As with all innovations - great and small - how the internet evolves is crucial to it being the greatest innovation in hindsight. But at time of writing, the changes in my fields of journalism and archaeology, have more than enough clout for me to say: the internet is the greatest innovation. For now.
Christine Finn is an archaeologist at the Universities of Bradford and Bristol, freelance print journalist, and BBC broadcaster.