Story First, Technology Second: How i-Docs Can Change How We Tell Archaeological Stories

Combining the strengths of “traditional” documentary filmmaking (as “creative treatments of actualité”) with the immersive power of interactive digital technologies (from 360° video to VR to data mining to algorithms), i-Docs can transform audiences into participants, co-creators, and collaborators in nonfiction storytelling, allowing them to not only explore and experience a story on their own terms but to remix, share, and contribute their own content to a collective story. i-Docs are cross- and multiplatform, screening across cinema, computers, smartphones, and gallery installations. Showcased at leading film festivals, increasingly adopted by broadcasters—including PBS, Al Jazeera, and BBC—and critically acclaimed from the Webbys and the Pulitzers to Cannes, the i-Doc sector is set to boom. After a close reading of two i-Docs, Hunt for the Inca Ruins (2017) and Saydnaya (2016), I consider the potential of i-Docs to resolve archaeologists’ concerns about misrepresentation, accuracy, information quality, (co)authorship, and crediting original research in documentary storytelling. I also examine the sector’s shortcomings of unstable production pathways, funding sources, technologies, and difficulties assessing impact. I propose that archaeologists should engage proactively with the i-Doc sector if we wish to avoid the pitfalls previously encountered in film and factual TV and make the most of this new format.

Rogers, K.E. (2020) “Story First, Technology Second: How i-Docs Can Change How We Tell Archaeological Stories”. In: Advances in Archaeological Practice Vol 8 Issue 4, Pp. 428—433, DOI

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