Blogging Archaeology – Responses to Feb’s Question or how I killed #BlogArch, and final question!

Posted on March 5, 2014

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This is the summary to February’s question to the Blogging Archaeology blog carnival! If you don’t know what Blogging Archaeology is click on this link.

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.

Well I can say with a fair amount of certainty that I killed #blogarch. We had been running between 50-70 participants each month but this month we are down to about a little more than half a dozen. I made the question open and that pretty much killed it. I think Katrin sums up most people’s thoughts on the topic-

“Writing about blogging archaeology without a proper question is hard for me, as I feel I don’t have so much to say on the topic… so I more or less decided after the topic came out that I won’t participate properly this month.”

Though the few responses I did get were great so lets jump into them before going into the final #blogarch question.

Katy gave us My brother was eaten by cannibals.

Space Age Archaeology joins us for the first time with a look at ten years of blogging-

“I found it surprisingly hard to write about this from an academic perspective as it’s all so personal. I had no idea what I was doing really when I started blogging in 2004, and I don’t really remember what motivated me to start.  I do remember very clearly the day I began the blog. I was in Adelaide for the International Space University Summer Space Programme, at which I was giving a guest lecture, and spending much of my free time in the Woomera archives at the Defence Science and Technology Organisation.

 On this afternoon, I was in Dr Heather Burke’s house, alone in the middle of the day while she was at work. It was warm inside the bluestone terrace, and in the small sitting room, I was surrounded by bookcases and beautiful objects ….. bird’s nests, bark paintings, carriage lamps ….. I had my feet on the coffee table, an old traveling case, while I slouched on the sofa with my laptop.
 I decided to bite the bullet and just begin.”
“On the other hand, this also highlighted the gap that exists, in most cases, between those involved in “real academic” work and the ones doing the popular science stuff, often through blogging. More precisely,”real” science is still associated with the classic means of communication- journal articles, intended for one’s peers, while “popular” science is associated with the more modern means of communication, like blogging, media etc.There are several reasons for this, but the most important I think is that we (in the academic community) have yet failed to embrace the whole “going public” responsibility. Thus, because each of these means of communication has a different audience and employs a different language, they are viewed as holding various degrees of respectability. It doesn’t even matter that blogs such as Powered by OsteonsThese Bones of MineBones Don’t Lie, Deathsplanation, Doug’s Archaeology, Digital Public Archaeology or Field of Work are written by PhD students or scholars involved in academic/field work- they do not count as “serious” stuff (because popular science is not as important as the other one; read more about this here)”
Kristina talks about how she sees her blogging as much more than talking to other specialists-
” I’m always happy to see PbO cited by my peers (as, for example, in the newBioarchaeology book, and articles in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute and American Anthropologist), but this new article rubbed me the wrong way, particularly the section on “The Public FaceofBioarchaeology.”  Here’s the most relevant quotation (p. 5, emphasis mine):

The advent of social media has led to the rise of blogs, and blogging has made its way to bioarchaeology (http://www.poweredbyosteons.org/; http://www.bonesdontlie.com/; http://thesebonesofmine.wordpress.com/; Facebook pages such as the Bioanthropology News group and Osteocentric). These blogs provide a valuable service to the discipline, but still represent the perspective of insiders writing largely (we would argue) for other specialists and students. To really gauge the impact of bioarchaeology beyond anthropology, we data mined articles from Science Daily, a successful and popular news aggregator.”

“Creating a blog called Darkage-ology was, to me at least, something of a bold move. No serious archaeologist would ever use the term ‘Dark Age’ in a publication these days. People now say ‘early medieval’; an objective, chronological and altogether more suitable term. The ‘Dark Ages’ were so-called on account of their lack of historical documentation and, therefore, knowledge. The archaeology of the period, however, is not particularly dark at all. The period may not even have been as violent and miserable as previously thought.

It might seem a little odd, then, that a new PhD student, eager to establish himself and gain the acceptance of his scholarly peers, would use the phrase as the title of a blog. Not only might it come across as unprofessional, but one could also argue using the term reinforces a history-centric view of the past. Whilst these are good points, the fact of the matter is that most people on the streets of Britain might have little idea of when or what the early medieval period was, but everyone has heard of the ‘Dark Ages’.”

Katy gives us a bit of the history of Campus Archaeology’s blog-

“The blog on this website first started in March 2009 when the new Campus Archaeology website launched. Prior to that, the blog was held on the first Campus Archaeologist’s own website. The ‘new’ blog in 2009 began with posts primarily by Terry Brock that reviewed the basics of archaeology, as well as reviews and announcements of digs and surveys occurring on campus. A second author came on to write almost a year later in April 2010. Throughout this first period, the focus on the blog was informing the public about finds and upcoming digs.

Beginning in 2011, a team of graduate student fellows began publishing a variety of articles on the blog about their individual research into different aspects of Campus Archaeology and historic MSU.”

VCUarchaeology talks bit about the sort of work they do.

Edit- I forgot that Stephen brought us this great quote (my bad)-

“I’ve also become a blogger, and enjoy the ease and freedom of the form: it’s a bit like making a paper airplane and then watching it take wing below your window.”

Edit- Henry joins us with a dog sitting on a cat GIF, him making tea about a paragraph in, statistics, a dedicated archery group who are interested in how Stuart Prior built his Neolithic flat bow, and much more. If that does seem random, trust me it isn’t. Go an have a look.

Edit- Jake jumps in with his Hi, I am an Archaeologists post.

Edit- David tackles what blogging means to him.

Final Question

Next month is the SAA session on blogging so this will be the final question for #blogarch. Learning from my mistakes this will be an actual question this time.
The last question is where are you/we going with blogging or would you it like to go? I leave it up to you to choose between reflecting on you and your blog personally or all of archaeology blogging/bloggers or both. Tells us your goals for blogging. Or if you have none why that is? Tell us the direction that you hope blogging takes in archaeology.
Short and simple and I hope a good question to finish off #BlogArch with.

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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