Blogging Archaeology #BlogArch – All of the Responses to the best and worst posts

Posted on February 6, 2014

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Another great response to the Blogging Archaeology blog carnival! If you don’t know what Blogging Archaeology is click on this link. A quick announcement- thanks to These Bones of Mine we have a new banner. Also, there is some exciting news (at the end with next months question, scroll down to see):

Blogging Archaeology-  banner from These bones of Mine. Image credit

Blogging Archaeology- banner from These bones of Mine. Image credit

Even though this post is the summation of what was said in the last month it is not too late to join in. Anyone can join at any time and you can blog about the previous months questions too, I will add them to the end here.

As always, apologies if I missed anyone. I went through links, comments, emails, and tweets to try and find everyone but I might have missed one or two. If I did, it was not on purpose, just let me know and I will add you.

January’s question was about what were people’s best or worst and posts and why. This month responses are in the order of when people responded:

Lisa-Marie, who was also the first to respond shares her best post-

“Best is also easy. There is one post that stands out for me as ‘best’ for many reasons. It is the most viewed post of all time on my blog (c.300 unique views if I remember correctly – that’s a lot for me!), probably because when I posted it the link was shared on a few facebook pages and other sites with a large audience. It is also my personal favourite. It is a poem I wrote a couple of years ago, which started out as a humorous spoof (archaeologically themed spoof poetry is a hobby of mine), but ended up being quite poignant. I’d been working on it on and off for a while, a poem about Catalhoyuk based on Tennyson’s The Lady of Shallot.”

It truly is an awesome post/poem- The lady of the höyük

Paige discusses her best post and archaeology nerdiness-

“But my archaeological nerdiness really went through the roof when I got an email from the National Museum of Ireland’s PR person, asking if they could share my blog post. Of course, I was thrilled to let them do so. Great exposure for my blog, and a testimonial to the cool-ness of the bog bodies exhibit for the museum! So, NMI tweeted my blog, shared it on their Facebook page, and posted a link to it on their website. I was understandably excited, and re-shared and re-tweeted it all like a maniac.”

David really got me interested when he said his personal favorite post was about the advertisement of his blog on the side of a bus-

Having done a Masters in Newcastle and currently living in Scotland I can relate to some of David’s favorite posts-

“Finally, the other set of entries I am most satisfied with are the more reflective ones I’ve written about my own personal engagement with the past, such as the influences that led to my initial interest in archaeology and historic landscapes. . These have probably been partly fuelled by impending middle-age, a young family and changing personal priorities. However, they have provided me with the chance to perhaps move further away from direct discussions of archaeology into the wider, more discursive written engagement with the past, and one I’m keen to develop and pursue. Of all these entries, in fact of all my blog entries, I think my personal favourite is this one – a fairly short reflection on being a southerner living in Northern England, but one that I received kind comments on and still resonates personally with me”

A stitch in time is the first to mention a series as some the of best posts-

“And some of my favourite posts in the blog are the ones about fair prices for crafts – all tagged under “fair prices for crafts campaign“. They did get a good share of love (and hits), ranging somewhere between almost 500 and 1340 hits for the posts in the main series (the one also linked to on the sidebar).”

Ethan gives a powerful reminder that blogs involve working with real people-

“As archaeologists, we become accustomed to death, for we spend our lives devoted to studying dead people and dead things. That can sometimes make us forget the very real horror of facing death, and the deeply painful loss that individuals feel when they lose a loved one. From my perspective, my worst posts are those where I have been required to break the news of someone’s death to the wider scholarly community. Over the past twelve months, I have had to do that twice. Both Dr Dave Evans and Dr Nevill Drury (each well renowned scholars of the academic study of Western esotericism and of Pagan studies) passed away, and worse, both were facing terminal diseases at what were relatively young ages. I had personally communicated with both of them in the months before their passings, and each had graciously accepted to be interviewed by me for my blog. I like to think that those interviews stand as enduring testaments to their achievements and contributions to scholarship; in fact, I like to think that those were my best blog posts, for that very reason.”

HollyMae mentions one of the different ways people find our posts-

“The other interesting point is the search terms box on the statistics page. Evidently people have come along to various walks (CALCH, Carn Goch) and have searched for these places online afterwards – proof that blogs do show up in search engines sometimes!”

Jonathan talks about how when a blog is not always about archaeology, those archaeology posts can be the best-

“What is my best post? Well, I think that in the context of blogging archaeology, it would pretty much have to be one of the posts where I actually talk about archaeology. So many of my post are about GIS in general or in another industry. However, the times I do talk about archaeology I tend to write a lot more. I am a little more passionate about the subject matter and tend to put more into it.”

Bill ignores the question and really jumps into the guts of archaeology blogging, see what he says-

“While is a cool question because it opens the door not only to reflect on our own blogging efforts, I’m going to mostly ignore it and use it as prompt to speculate a bit on the entire blogging ecosystem. After all, the best and worst posts are only partly determined by our own judgement and partly by their reception by our audience.”

Martin breaks down his top ten posts by views and shares with us his number one most viewed post. All are worth reading.

Darkage-ology (love that name) joins for the first time and shares some of his best posts, measured in different ways-

“My favourite post, though, would have to be ‘Why you might be more interested in the Dark Ages than you thought’. This post sums up why I think studying the past, and specifically the early medieval period, is so important in understanding the modern world. Without the Anglo-Saxon migrations, there would be no England. The fact that few people seem to know this only encourages me to continue with this blog as a form of public engagement. I also really enjoyed writing ‘Why was Gildas so angry?’, if only because it is nice to study documents instead of archaeology every now and then.”

Katy shares both her quantitative and qualitative best posts and her takeaway from the best-

  • “What I’ve learned over years of blogging about mortuary archaeology and bioarchaeology, is that in general what people like about my posts is the variety. Yes, there is a great Viking contingency following me, yes there are forensics people who contact me and want to learn more about modern things, and yes, there are tourists who want more on locations and trips. In the end, what I hear the most is that the blog is a great way to see the breadth and variety of work that occurs within this discipline.
  • I am often tempted to blog more about my own personal work on cremation remains and Anglo-Saxon England, but I think its important not to become so focused on my own sub-fields. This blog is my excuse for continuing to learn about my field broadly, and I am glad that I have an amazing audience who supports this!”

Campus Archaeology looks at the best conversation starters-

“Conversation starters: Our most popular conversation starters are the posts that tell university students, faculty and staff more about the historic university and the people. They like hearing about who lived in the university, what students in the 19th century were like, and how this relates to the archaeology we are doing today. A great example of this is the work by past intern Eve, who wrote about finding the heart of campus. Her posts talked about how what is perceived as being the focal point of of the university, whether that means what people see as the symbol of the campus like Beaumont Tower or the rock, or the area that is the literal center of activity. Another example is the work of intern Paige, who connected archival text from the university to artifacts that we had excavated. She was able to show why combining these two resources is so important, and also link tangible items to behavior in the past.”

Kelly says “Original content wins every time“-

“Granted, it can be hard to define “original content” as it feels like everything that can be said about any given topic has already been said but I’ve found that the posts that got the most hits were ones that I spent hours researching for and writing. When I first started the blog, I wasn’t sure what would work and what wouldn’t so I reblogged other people’s posts and experimented with a few blog features. One feature I used to run was “Unearthed”, which consisted of (almost) daily digests of interesting news articles and links I had come across. I soon found out that I was spending way too much time sharing other people’s content and not actually writing any blog posts of my own so I ditched “Unearthed” after a few weeks and focussed on creating original content. Since then, my readership has grown exponentially and I feel like I actually have something to contribute rather than simply regurgitate other people’s work.”

Howard takes the stats approach-

“However, in terms of the stats alone, by far my most viewed blog entry, with 2,175 views, posted on 28th September 2013, was titled: ‘What is truly wrong about digging up Richard III’.

I am not sure the blog is anywhere near my best post. I simply suspect its popularity relates to two factors: ……..”

Geoff’s top post got him quite a bit of publicity-

“In terms of its significance, Hadrian’s Timber Wall is the post that stands out, as it encapsulates everything about this blog and why I created it.
It is not even in the top 10 most read posts, or as contentious as those about Class Ei buildings like Stonehenge[1], but the Timber Wall was a totally new concept, an unexpected research bonus, which got worldwide publicity.  From the blogosphere via my local paper the Hexham Courant, it found its way into various media including the BBC and even made cameo appearance on the History Channel.  Recently, I met someone who had been involved at the time, who was surprised that it had not made my career; sadly, it probably had quite the opposite effect.”
Interestingly enough this blog carnival has brought Stephen the most traffic-
“That’s a tough topic to answer. According to both Tumblr’s activity page and Google Analytics, my posts with the highest traffic* are the two related to the first two questions for the blogging carnival (here and here, respectively).  After that, traffic drops pretty dramatically.”
“My answer is not very straightforward but here goes:

  • My post with the largest number of hits is Thoughts on How to Get a Museum Job.  I wrote this post in part out of frustration from reading recent graduates and professors in both museum studies and anthropology write there were no jobs out there, etc.  As I noted in the post, I recognize that, yes, times are tough, but students can be proactive to enhance employment possibilities upon graduation.  In general, I don’t think those of us in academia spend enough time mentoring students in this process.  At the same time, students often feel that with degree in hand, they are entitled to a job of their choice.  I hoped that my post could bring some productive discussion to the issue.  Given the overwhelming positive feedback I received in blog comments and in emails the post proved helpful to many.”

Sprache der Dinge reminds us that many people come to blogs looking for specific answers or help:

“There have been posts that received more interest than others and these have been normally the ones on grants and how to apply to them. There have been comments and even personal emails with questions on this – and its logical because the constant under-financiation of archaeology drives all of us to the few grants available. And as the organizations don´t normally publish much about how to apply, and how long it takes, this theme seems to be quite an interesting one.”

David might win on the number of views his blog gets, not that it is a competition or anything:

“The first thing to notice is the overall views for the blog, standing around 937,913 views from February 2011 to the current day (it is probably just me refreshing the page!).  This is a good figure I believe, especially for a specialist blog such as this.”

Heritage Action shares some tips on getting more people interested in your blog:

“Another factor in the popularity of a post is a more judicious use of marketing tactics, with regard to article titles. In this regard, we can recommend a short (free) report, entitled ‘Headline Hacks‘ which is full of suggestions and templates for titles that could improve your traffic. Using some of the suggestions in the report, it’s been our experience that any title that alludes to a list of some kind, or includes the words ‘how to…’ will garner more than the average number of hits. Likewise, any title that could be considered ‘contentious’ (such as our ‘Ed Vaizey insults every archaeologist and heritage professional!‘ story which gave the high numbers mentioned above) or is unexpected improves our hit rate.”

Trowel Points brings us a bit of ‘personal’ touch:

“I chose my personal best post, on Tea Time in 19th Century NYC, based on the same criteria, and it also happens to have the most views out of all my posts.  Comments on the blog and the Facebook page touched on people’s personal experience with ceramics, and I would like to see posts like that expand one day into a dialogue with colleagues that potentially contributes to our analysis of artifacts here at Geoarchaeology Research Associates.”

Prehistories joins the Carnival for the first time and shakes things up by giving us a list of other people’s posts they like and of course their own too:

“Dr A and Dr H agreed that the best posts have been the Ask an Archaeologist/ Author/ Artist feature. Generally these are the posts with the highest readership, but most importantly they given us an insight into the range of people involved in and engaging with archaeology. They’ve lead us to brilliant images,  inspiring writing and insightful archaeology. Plus we get to find out everyone’s time travel destinations.”

Anthroslug says his favorite posts are the ones that really show what archaeology is like-

“No, my personal favorites, or which I personally consider the best, I would say that those would be my Wild and Wacky Forest Adventure entries, which are here  and here  (incidentally, these are photos from the project area). These aren’t necessarily the best written, and as can be seen, I was still getting the hang of formatting my entries when I posted the first one.

Nonetheless, I love these entries for two reasons. The first is that the events detailed within them are a large part of the reason why I started this blog. As I was going through these rather odd series of events, I kept thinking to myself “if only people knew that this is what archaeology is really like.” So, I created the blog, and began writing these entries. The discussion of archaeology is largely missing in these entries, and that is because the project was not all that interesting from an archaeological standpoint. It was a fairly standard survey with exactly the sorts of results that one would expect given the project area. But the various weird-ass events that accompanied fieldwork were memorable, and are the sorts of things that typically don’t get discussed with the public or with aspiring archaeologists”

Jess says, “Because I’m a pessimist (read: a graduate student with a realistic understanding of  job market prospects for archaeology PhDs), I’ll put my worst foot forward first.” and then gives us this image:

Worst foot. Get it? (Avulsion fracture, 5th MT)

Worst foot. Get it? (Avulsion fracture, 5th MT)

I love a good pun.

John, like anthroslug, believes his best post is a “typical/atypical” day in archaeology:

“My favorite post is named after my favorite Ice Cube songToday was a Good Day. It describes a typical day in the field that turns into a wonderful, atypical adventure. It’s my favorite for several reasons. First of all, it was just an excellent little adventure, getting to ride around in a WWII surplus jeep with an old rodeo cowboy (spoiler, if you didn’t read the original). Secondly, I felt like it gave a sense of what kind of people you can run into in the field, and that they’re not all bad. This is especially important to me for Texas, because so much of the country has a low opinion of Texas, particularly outside of Austin. Even a lot of Austinites can be snobbish about the rest of the state. Finally, I feel like I did an excellent job of telling the story (he says immodestly), especially once I remembered to add the punchline. I suppose I should also add that that particular day was probably the first good day for me in weeks, following a terrible stretch of fieldwork that almost broke me AND then getting separated from my now ex-wife.”

Artefactual’s favorite post is about a cannibal fork.  Now if that does not peak your interest I don’t know what will.

Bernard shares some insights that this month’s question has given him:

“In reflecting on this month’s question, I realize that I do need to avoid blogging for blogging’s sake, and have as my goal to post blogs that meaningfully advance my major foci: virtual curation of the past; and engaging with my students and the public in a meaningful fashion.”

Mel might have the best title for this month- IT WAS THE BEST OF POSTS, IT WAS THE WORST OF POSTS

and this great photo-

Ralner takes a his stats to places others have yet to follow-

“Most recognized at google+ :

Plünderungen an ägyptischen Kulturstätten – Eine Chronologie seit dem 14. August 2013by Jutta Zerres on the situation in Egypt in August 2013.”
Jessica takes the question elsewhere and by that I mean she ignores it, but I think you will like it-
“This month we were asked to talk about our best and worst posts.  What I’m about to write is only tangentially related to my best or worst posts because I have something else on my mind.  So if you came for the blogging carnival, feel free to tune me out, but hopefully some of you will keep reading.”
Enrico shares that sex sells, sort of-
“In many ways, Moche Sex Pots, Part One is my best post. It’s my most popular post, by a very long way–a whopping (for me, anyway) 1,691 views and counting. Moche sex pots are ancient ceramics from Northern Peru, which depict people engaging in the most varied types of sexual intercourse. Moche Sex Pots, Part One is a good post: it’s clearly written and accessible, it provides some cultural context, and it makes a good case for taking these pots seriously as precious clues for understanding Moche society, and thinking about them in ways that do not include cliches like “LOL check out these crazy sex pots! prehistoric people were total horndogs!” or “people in the past were more comfortable with their sexuality, we can learn a lot from them” or “Moche society collapsed because of their unholy sexual practices”.”
“My personal favorite post so far has been the article I wrote on using crowdsourcing and games to digitize documents. I wrote the post after attending a ContentDM conference here in Seattle last year. I met a librarian who had access to lots of primary documents from John Muir and other notable figures, but who having trouble figuring out how to get funds to cover the cost and time it would take to digitize them all. I gave him my business card and told him to contact me so that I could send him links to a couple unique digitization projects I had read about, namely the UrCrowdsource and DigiTalkoot projects.”
I Francesco’s take on why he personally likes a post-
“In general the fact that I like or not a post it depends directly on the way I wrote it. If I have difficulties in finding the words and in writing my thoughts, probably the post it won’t be good, whatever genre of writing I use (article, dialogue, personal thoughs…). Most of the time, it’s hard for me to keep order in my thoughts and to write a critical and argumentative post from a personal experience. I want to write so many things that I lost the way.”
Edit- Forgot Archaeoblog. Apologies, here is his post- http://www.acagle.net/ArchaeoBlog/?p=18579
Edit- Bill jumps in with his top and bottom five posts.

Some new people have joined the Carnival: Jake Pfaffenroth joins for the first question but on a different blog and Ossamenta makes up for lost time with a 1st, 2nd and 3rd post.

Edit- Just saw that Archeogeomancy joins for the first question of the carnival.

Edit- Henry brings us his moment of catching lighting in a bottle and this great image-

Edit- Emily joins us.

“The automatic response would, of course, be ‘Free Archaeology!’. But, I don’t think it is my favourite post, in terms of it’s  content. I’m very proud to have been part of such a great discussion and a topic that have made such an impact on the online world of archaeology, and the subject is still a very important one for me. But it’s not a subject that makes me feel cheerful, per se.

My absolute favourite post so far is ‘Why archaeology needs game developers and other nerds’. It was probably the first time I expressed the thinkity thoughts that led to the realisation of the main research aims in my Master’s dissertation. The thoughts that I express in this post are also linked to those of my second favourite, in which I ask ‘are archaeologists afraid of their imaginations?‘. The issues that I deal with in these two posts, and of course, in my dissertation are still the ones that plague me… I’m absolutely positive that there’s a PhD in there somewhere…”

Finally there is my post.

Alright, now on to some good news and how it relates to February’s question. One, Chris Webster, who is running the SAA session on Blogging that inspired this carnival, and I are putting together an e-book of papers on Blogging and Archaeology. Those who will be giving papers in April at the SAAs will be contributing and Chris has been kind enough to open it up to anyone, including those of us not attending. We have a publisher lined up and the e-book will be Open Access so everyone can read it.

If you are interested in contributing a paper on the subject of Archaeology and Blogging the details are as follows:
  • Let Chris know by March 5th if you are interested in participating
  • Papers are due April 5th, email them to Chris at chriswebster@digtech-llc.com
  • Put in as many graphics as you want. It’s an eBook so in this particular case, size doesn’t matter! Please ensure that you have permission to use the images
  • Because it is an e-book there is no real limit in terms of length but don’t go crazy, we would like to keep it under 6000 words but longer pieces are ok if you let us know in advance. It can be as short as a blog post too
  • Use the Harvard referencing system
  • Style- write in whatever style you want, 1st person casual or 3rd person academic it does not matter. British English, American English, German, etc. it does not matter but please stay consistent.
  • There will be an editorial review but no peer review
  • It can be on any subject related to Archaeology and Blogging. It can be a full referenced examination of a topic or a personal narrative. It can be a photo essay too. There is no limitation to how you write your piece.

Also, Colleen Morgan is putting together a special peer reviewed issue of Internet Archaeology on Archaeology and Blogging. For more information about the dedicated issue of Internet Archaeology, please contact Colleen Morgan (colleen.morgan@york.ac.uk) by 10 Feb. That date is key as spaces for the IA issue are limited and Colleen needs to know if you are interested right away. Those papers need to follow IA standards and how to write for IA can be found here.

So what does the e-book and IA special issue have to do with the carnival? Well this months question is open. That is you can blog about any subject you want relating to Archaeology and Blogging, Blogging Archaeology, Archaeology Blogging, or however you want to term it.

The reason for this is because throughout the carnival many of you have mentioned using a blog as a way to work through your thoughts, some on the way to writing longer pieces. We are hoping that you might want to blog about a subject that you would then turn into a piece for the e-book or IA issue i.e. Blog post to e-book chapter to peer-reviewed journal article.

So feel free to choose any topic relating to Archaeology and Blogging and blog about it for this months carnival. Maybe considered submitting it or turning into a longer piece for the e-book or IA issue? Or NOT. I don’t want to turn this into a chore so feel free to just blog about whatever, there is no pressure to make it anything more than a blog post. We will return to a defined question for March but we thought to get this out so people have enough time to put together something for IA or the e-book. If you have any questions let me know- drocksmacqueen@gmail.com

Mailing List for Blogging Archaeology

Also, we now have a mailing list for participants. Basically, I will send out an email to anyone who wants to participate at the end of the month with links to the other posts in the carnival and next months questions. That way you don’t have to follow my blog to get the new questions. Emails will not be given out or used for anything else other than for blogging purposes. Link to mailing list here- http://eepurl.com/J05yH

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