I love technology – but not as you may think. I’m from the generation of those who were first-hand witnesses of the dawning of the age of communication. I remember the first conversations of people trying to describe to me what the internet was, or how to send a fax – or… how RUDE it was to answer the cell phone in other people’s presence. I’m not fifty yet. Most people I know are tech-savvy, however, you still get the few who refuse to use it except for the bare minimum.
So, why do I like it so much? I know – it’s a silly statement if you are from a younger generation – but still. I love it for the opportunities it gives us all! No one is ever truly alone. We all have the opportunity to work in a different way. We all have the opportunity to learn more and more and more.
From friends, I had heard of some initiatives (penguin counting – for example) that left me dumbfounded – but truth being said – THIS takes the cake.
It reaches me – as I suppose it does to many – on another level. As a young girl, many an hour was spent outdoors, playing pretend – to be a discoverer, an archaeologist, a geologist, always searching to explore beyond what man had ever known – or what man should know.
Then life creeps up on you and you must sadly move on into reality, abandoning all side-dreams.
Sarah Parcak is giving to people what we thought would never be possible. Is it me, or is this really exciting?
Sarah Parcak hoped the power of the crowd could help accelerate archaeological discovery. See how 90-year-old Doris Mae Jones heard her call — and jumped in to search more than 50,000 tiles in Expedition Peru. With cat assistants.
Sarah Parcak: A hundred years ago, archaeology was for the rich, fifty years ago it was for men. But we are expanding it to the world. I wish for us to discover the millions of unknown archaeological sites around the world. By creating a 21st-century army of global explorers,we’ll find and protect the world’s hidden heritage. So how are we going to do this?
[Great Big Story in partnership with TED]
Narrator: They had a big idea to change the world. But they couldn’t do it alone.
(Voices overlapping) So, my wish … My wish … I wish … And now, here’s my wish …
[Ideas in action]
SP: I am an archaeologist, and I specialize in using satellite imagery to map ancient landscapes. The really fun title is space archaeology. You of course want to record maybe how thick something is, which you can’t measure from space, whether that’s soil or snow. When I won the prize, I had to present this completely crazy wish. I had to present the case for archaeology to the world. Why does it matter, so what? The reality is, there aren’t enough of us scientists, we’ve got to give more people opportunities to become explorers.
GlobalXplorer is an online crowdsourcing platform that allows anyone in the world to help map ancient sites by looking at satellite imagery. And it’s this idea that everyone in the world can make a contribution to science. It can be anyone.
Doris Jones: I’m Doris Jones, I’m 90 years old, I live alone except for my two kitties. And I need something to do. I play games, I like sudoku. And I play mahjong with friends on Friday.
(Music) And I’m an armchair archaeologist. Why don’t you want to work? Down. Down, let’s work.
SP: Doris is one of our top contributors; she’s a space archaeologist. She’s looked at many, many thousands of tiles. People like her are just a gift to GlobalXplorer.
DJ: Right now, I’m looking at a tile, but … Well, it has a wall, probably for animals. But it has a number of what look more like trails and roads. I’ll go to the next one.
SP: All you have to do is look at an image and look carefully, and you see that there could potentially be a new site there. Doris just has this passion and energy, an excitement for exploration. She’s able to give back and really contribute in a meaningful way.
(Skype dial tone)
SP: I’m actually crying right now, because I’m overwhelmed with emotion.
DJ: Well, thank you.
SP: I just had to see your face and say, “Thank you.”
DJ: I really admire what you’re doing. And I really enjoy the program.
SP: When did your love for archaeology and paleontology and science start?
DJ: Well, in the middle 50s my husband and I were in the backyard digging a garden. It was late fall, and we were getting ready for next spring. And I saw a strange-looking white rock on the ground. I picked it up and he said, “Let me see that.” I showed it to him and he said, “You know what this is?” I told him I didn’t. He said, “This is a fossil.” And we took out to the creek and started looking for fossils. From then on, there was no turning back.
SP: That’s wonderful.
DJ: So then I collected for years. And after all those years, of course I’ve got all those memories. But that’s a type of thing … It’s not just hunting the fossils but the experiences. And you just learn and really live and enjoy. And I think the fun is in the hunt. You know, it’s like …Well, like the rainbow — at the end of the rainbow is a pot of gold. So GlobalXplorer was kind of my rainbow. And even at my age I can continue to hunt for lost civilizations.
SP: I want to tell you about some of the incredible things that happened as a result of your discoveries. We’re now beginning to take thousands of features that people like you have found and we’re sharing them with archaeologists who work in Peru. They’re beginning to confirm the things the crowd has found. So, in other words, the platform works. Ultimately, this technology is helping us to rewrite our history.
DJ: We need to know our history. We’re all one peoples. It’s all our history, we’re all here on this little ball of dirt.
SP: I believe we have barely scratched the surface in terms of what’s left to discover. And the greatest story ever told is the story of our shared human journey. But the only way that we’re going to be able to write it is if we do it together.
[Become a GlobalXplorer GlobalXplorer.org]