Re: Name “using” etiquette

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Posted by Frazier Frankie on April 10, 2003 at 19:23:28:

In Reply to: Name “using” etiquette posted by Joel Briggs on April 10, 2003 at 10:31:58:

Joel's instincts are correct, IMO. The less advertised, the better. The downside is too great to risk -- check out this horror story from the Casper Star-Tribune:

"GPS rankles aficionados of ancient Indian art"
AP Photos
Associated Press Writer

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Most of the ancient artwork carved and painted into the rock walls and boulders of the American West have survived for thousands of years in quiet obscurity.

Technology has changed that. These days, art that once took years for a person to stumble upon can be pinpointed with the aid of global positioning systems. Discoverers can post the coordinates on the Internet.

That leaves the ancient, priceless art vulnerable to what the Bureau of Land Management calls ''digital vandalism.''

''It certainly has changed how we think about our jobs. There's a breathless feeling that the public is ahead of us now,'' said Dale Davidson, a Bureau of Land Management archaeologist based in Monticello, Utah.

A quick peek at the Internet auction site eBay confirms the sites are being plundered and sold piecemeal, said Kevin Jones, Utah's state archaeologist.

It's not just the treasure hunters who concern the rock art aficionados. Some of the sites simply can't withstand public adoration.

The use of GPS ''hasn't changed the nature, but the scale'' of those who are finding the sites, Jones said. Utah wasn't settled by whites until the Mormon pioneers rolled into the area in 1847. Native Americans occupied the territory for at least the last 10,000 years.

The ancient people who created the pictographs and petroglyphs scattered across the West are a mystery to archeologists. Much of what is known about them is gleaned from the pictures etched on the rocks: hunting scenes, hand prints, ceremonies, even the arrival of pioneers. There are ''huge concentrations'' of ancient rock art in Utah, Jones said. He estimated that, throughout the West, there are thousands, and perhaps hundreds of thousands, of rock art sites.

Bob Forsyth, a retired private investigator living in Las Vegas, takes his Jeep into the high-desert backcountry once or twice a week, searching for the elusive artwork. With a GPS mounted on the dashboard and plugged into the computer laptop by his side, Forsyth enters the no-man's land surrounding the Vegas glitz. ''I think of the people that were there, where you are, 1,000 years ago. You're walking in their footsteps,'' he said.

When he finds the treasures, he writes down the GPS coordinates and takes a digital photograph. Within hours, it will be added to his personal Web site.

Forsyth wants to bring a glimpse of ancient cultures to the public - which he acknowledges is a double-edged proposition. As a caution, he does not include directions to some of the more sensitive artworks he lists and photographs. His Web site also shows a photograph of graffiti-covered rock art.

''This is the reason that the BLM and private organizations are either restricting access or being very secretive about the locations of petroglyph sites,'' he said on the Web site. ''Second, this is the reason why I am trying to locate and photograph all the sites that I can. I want to see them before vandals have completely ruined them.''

This new openness doesn't sit well with those who covet the petroglyphs and pictographs and are known for their secrecy about their favorite sites. ''We share coordinates between close, personal friends, but not with strangers,'' explained Nina Bowen, vice president and archivist for the Utah Rock Art Research Association. ''We are so anti-telling people about sites that we (the association) don't even have a file on these sites. We're purposely very vague about (the locations). It's our passion and we have seen so much vandalism in the past five years.''

That's when handheld GPS units began being sold in sporting goods stores, Jones said. That may just be coincidence. ''Who knows how information spreads among the doofuses of the world,'' he said. Sometimes, by the time archaeologists can get to a previously unknown site posted on the Web, it's already been damaged and information has been lost.

''Not only are we playing catch-up, but we're trying to record something that's already been impacted,'' Davidson said.

There's a lot of talk about how to deal with this clash between archaeology and technology, but no answers. ''We all stand around kinda scratching our head about it,'' Davidson said. ''It takes all sides to come to a conclusion here. It took a lot of time for this to get to be an issue and it will take some time to figure out how to deal with it.''

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