Sense of Humerus

Emily Streetman: Anthropology Doctoral Student

AAFS2013: digital growth in Forensic Anthropology

Last week, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences had its 65th Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. A group of MSU Forensic Anthropology faculty and students, myself included, attended. Of these, few use social media professionally. In such a small-world field, it’s easy to ¬†understand why. All of the more senior researchers know each other personally. Most are employed in academia and any one of them could name the handful of other employers where forensic anthropologists work (New York OCME, Harris County OME, Pima County OME, JPAC/CIL, etc.). For fields in which this is less common, such as archaeology, social media allows people working on similar things to connect when they might otherwise not.

I’ve only attended a few meetings, but there was a minimum of Twitter action at AAFS2012. This year, a few more individuals participated in the hashtag discussion. Are you surprised to know that the exhibitors were among the most-Tweeting entities? Perhaps the increase in participation will signal a trend in future years, too.

Regarding the role of digital in the presentations, there was one that stuck out. FOROST was presented to attendees as a trauma photographic database. The presenter noted the number of photographs in the most comprehensive and popular texts and suggested that this resource would quickly outpace them. It is sourced by a group of institutions and credit for the images and information in them should go directly to the individual/lab who collected the data. This, and the fact that it is free to participate, likely eased the fears of many in the audience. It reminded me of a brown bag presentation I saw of a similar database by/for archaeologists. In any case, this is probably a great new thing, and I hope it catches on.

There are my digital highlights of the Physical Anthropology section of the AAFS 2013 meeting. I was only in the Anthropology section, so did not catch any presentations that might have been in the other sections. The program was gripping in the PA section this year that I hardly made it down the hall to anyone else! Thanks for a great meetings to everyone who contributed.