Public archaeology, also called community archaeology in some places, is the passing along of information discovered in academic archaeology to people outside of the profession, whether that information is passed along via the Internet, or books, television programs, lectures, pamphlets, museum displays, archaeology fairs, or by opening up excavations to the public.
Many scholars are reluctant to participate in public archaeology, perhaps because it takes away time from their research, or because they are uncomfortable in public venues, or because they can't resolve the many ethical dilemmas that accompany making culturally sensitive data public.
The new article Public Archaeology describes many of these ethical issues, particularly those concerning preservation of archaeological sites, and the privacy of descendants of the people studied. Practicing public archaeology is complicated, and I for one greatly appreciate those scholars who do dedicate some of their research time to explaining what it is they do and what they have learned to the rest of us. Without their input into these pages, this public archaeology venue would be much poorer.