One laptop per archaeologist


Transparency is empowering

Imagine if these things were on sale to the general public; archaeological fieldwork could be changed forever. Recording, interpreting, communicating; all those traditional elements of an archaeological excavation could be combined into a single act of doing archaeology.

The child proof, environment surviving hardware is already there, as is the mesh networking. All it needs is some more suitable tools installed and a database server in a site hut.

Imagine taking a photograph of a section, putting it on your laptop, annotating it the stylus, dynamically linking it to context sheet you just typed out, georeferencing it, then saving it directly to the site archive. A paper free excavation.

But why am I sat here typing it for who-knows-who on the internet? I should be selling my ideas to some commercial archaeology unit! Well yes, I should be, but it wouldn’t get me very far as I can’t buy a OLPC, even if it was to subsidise others getting sent abroad. Besides, keeping the idea for myself wouldn’t be particularly Open Access of me. Anyway, if there is a big-paying Unit reading this, don’t worry, I’ve still got plenty of ideas you can splash out on!

Even though I can’t buy one, the price of these laptops do lend themselves to contract archaeology. They cost governments $100 each and after that nothing more.  All the software on these machines is linux based, including the BIOS. The OLPC group turned down Steve Jobs’ offer of free OSX licenses because they wanted something Open Source, whilst Microsoft are rumoured to be worried about the device and are working hard to get a copy of XP running on them. I won’t provide any links, but it’s all on Slashdot, and when was the last time that Slashdot ever sensationalised anything?

The archaeological tools of the future? A mattock, a digital camera and a laptop. What more could you need?

OLPCOLPC interface

Click to enlarge.

13 Responses to “One laptop per archaeologist”

  1. Chris Puttick Says:

    Ok, so great minds think alike – I too have been looking at the OLPC and thinking it fits the needs of archaeology like a tailored glove. Let me know if you are interested in working on realising this idea.



  2. Finbar Says:

    sounds cool but i think you’d need a trowel as well.or use a mattock for cleaning!

  3. Joseph Says:

    When the only tool you have is a mattock, every problem looks like… Well, the ground, I suppose.

    Exciting things on the way; watch this space.

  4. Two laptops per me « Pastxting Says:

    […] laptops per me Developing on from this, I’ve been playing working with a couple of Oxford Archaeolgy’s XO units. One was […]

  5. naisioxerloro Says:

    Good design, who make it?

  6. Bug Labs and hardware mashups « Electric Archaeology: Digital Media for Learning and Research Says:

    […] know some of the people at Open Archaeology are looking at the XO (see also ‘One Laptop per Archaeologist‘), but they might want take a look at this […]

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  13. em8ewyyi Says:

    Радиодетали Кабель! Россия вся электрика Электрика.

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