Monday, October 20, 2014

The Roomnet

The Boston Globe Connections column yesterday printed my essay on my experience away from the Internet, forced to actually connect with the other people in my presence to learn anything -- and enjoying it. I coined a phrase to describe the collected brainpower in a room: the Roomnet.
Earlier this year, an archaeological dig took me to a rural part of the world with spotty Internet service. In this village, it came through cell towers, but the signal was weak and shared by hundreds of people. So functionally, I lived without the Internet. 
Researchers have written about how video games and the Internet have changed our brains. My time on the dig required a reboot of my pre-Internet brain. This earlier brain, I quickly realized, was not without resources: Lacking digital search engines, I still had the “Roomnet.” Just as the Internet is the collective intelligence (or lack thereof) of a few billion people, the Roomnet is the collective intelligence of everyone in a given room. 
Read more
I love the illustration by Gracia Lam that accompanied the piece:

Friday, October 17, 2014

Rise of the Black Pharoahs

While in Sudan earlier this year, a film crew from National Geographic came to El Kurru to document our work and interview the dig director, Geoff Emberling. The fruits of their labor aired on PBS on October 1 as "Rise of the Black Pharaohs."

Here's the PBS description:

About the ProgramThe Egypt of the Great Pyramids, the Sphinx, and the Valley of the Kings was an empire of indomitable might. Then, around 800 BC, the impossible happened. Kush, a subject kingdom from the south, rose up and conquered Egypt, enthroned its own Pharaohs, and ruled for nearly 100 years.
These were the mysterious Black Pharaohs of what is today Sudan—the Nubian kings—whose reign has become legendary among Africans and written off as heresy by early archaeologists who refused to believe that dark skinned Africans could have risen so high.
But now, in the heart of Sudan, exciting new archaeological finds are revealing the truth about the great Kush dynasty. A sacred mountain holds the key to the Kush kings’ spiritual claim on the Egyptian throne; stunning statues are providing details about the true color of their skin and their long and prosperous reign; and a long-hidden tomb complex is shedding light on the trappings of their royalty and the extent of their empire.

As of this writing, Rise of the Black Pharaohs is streaming online here: