From Silicon Valley to the Valley of Teotihuacan: The “Yahoo!s” of New Media and Digital Heritage



This article examines the convergence of new media and archaeology, specifically cultural heritage management. I examine the events involving Yahoo!'s creation of a global, “electric anthropology archive.” This archive was part of the company's “mixed reality” time capsule project to transmit user-generated digital contributions from the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Teotihuacan, Mexico. Working through the specifics of how this new media mogul operationalized the functionality of Web 2.0 at a cultural heritage site, I identify the salient components of what is new about this emerging technology (a “platform shift”) and how it parallels ethical and legal demands to open archaeology to greater public involvement (a “paradigm shift”). Considering the emerging centrality of users in new media, I examine the potential of new media for academic projects by discussing the integration of a wiki, a particular and defining type of new media, into the investigation of what constitutes heritage for locals at Teotihuacan. Current concerns in archaeology, such as the need to create and maintain digital databases as well as the granting of restrictive Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) over the material of the discipline, may be creatively and productively worked through by using such new media.