Blogging Archaeology- The Final Review of #blogarch

Posted on April 6, 2014

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We have finally reached the end of the #blogarch blogging carnival. The SAA session on blogging is at the end of the month so this will be the last of the #blogarch carnival, for now. It has been an amazing run. You can see all of the responses to last months questions at there posts:

November

December

January

February

So here is the roundup of the last question for #blogarch. I had asked what direction people want to take their blog or the direction that they wanted archaeology blogging in general to go.

First though you should check out Shawn’s mapping of earlier #blogarch questions-

 

Mara starts us out strong for the final question-

“To be honest, archaeological blogging means very much to me. Of course, there´s my own blog, but there are so many others, all raising the same voice: Archaeology is not irrelevant. Its not obsolete. Its real, its important and it matters to everyone of us, archaeologist or not. In my opinion, history permeates our lives everywhere. But mostly we are not aware of it – not of its presence and even less of how it shapes us and our decisions. Archaeology, to me, is a tool to get to know the past and to COMMUNICATE the past. To make it relevant to all of us, sensitizing ourselves to the impact of the past on our everyday life. The Past is not just some murky, cloudy thing hovering there in the classroom or on our book shelves in (unfortunately often badly written and researched) novels. Its not a past disneyland where kings and queens leave gold and jewels behind. Its so much more. The simple presence of the past can change our lives, at least thats my experience form South America. Archaeology matters.”

Lisa-Marie talks about some of the lessons learned from #blogarch-

“Another lesson learned from the carnival is that wider engagement beyond your own work makes for a better blog, and I like the idea of blogs for ‘public peer review’. Or simply just commenting on new and exciting work in the world of ancient poo and geoarchaeology!”

Jonathan has some very interesting thoughts on the future-

“I think we will see corporate and personal blogs become more common place. I think they will also merge together more. I think the combination of social media and cloud storage is going to push more people into maintaining an online presence. With websites like this plenty of people can expose their experience and research to the world. I have nothing against the standard practices of getting your research out there, but I think that people need to take control of what they do. There are far too many cliques and far too many egos in every industry in the world. Take control of your voice and if people like what they see they will come back.”

Ethan discusses some of his fears for blogging-

With regard to the far wider world of archaeological blogging, my fear is that we will ultimately end up with a problem of oversaturation. In wealthier developed countries, almost anyone has the ability to create and run a blog, and while this does have the benefits of democratisation and multivocality, it can also mean that an awful lot of poor quality nonsense can get posted. When swamped with quantity, sometimes it can be difficult to determine what is of the best quality, particularly if you are new to the discipline in question. I have begun to see this with archaeological blogs already; there are some brilliant, informative, and above all important specialist blogs out there (Doug’s Archaeology among them), but I am also aware of some truly terrible stuff that sadly is of no interest to anyone but the original poster, or which just spreads misinformation and deceives its readers into believing all manner of nonsense.

Bill says this months question is a great prompt for a paper he is writing-

“As I watched my page views and visitors slowly increase over the first few years of this blog and a few fearless colleagues start their own blogs, we began to discuss the potential of our efforts to disrupt the standard methods of scholarly communication. Academics love to imagine themselves to be rebellious trailblazers, but mostly we’re as conventional as anyone who sits in cramped offices under florescent lights taking a paycheck and “doin’ work”. At the same time, we do have the freedom to be a bit more unconventional than the average cubicle jockey and we have generally been trained to challenge authority. “

Lena reminds us we are not the only weirdos out there-

“Find your soul mate(s), realise you’re not the only weirdo out there (and if so many of us are weird, shouldn’t that just be a sign that we’re quite within the range of normal really?). Blogging is a bit of an odd beast: partly normal conversation, partly popular science writing. And it is a skill to find the balance, particularly if you usually tend to write more formally academic things. Too much jargon shuts others out, no jargon and you have to explain in long paragraphs instead of using a single word.”

Jessica mulls over and over what direction she is taking her blog-

“As for the first part of the question, “where are you going with blogging”, I’ve turned this question over and over in my mind.  At times I’ve contemplated going a more academic route with my blog, but I enjoy the freedom to post cartoons and gifts of Indy too much to do that.  That being said, it would be nice, one day, to have a blogging product that I’m not nervous about sharing with professors and colleagues for fear that they will come across my Indiana Jones appreciation posts and ignore all of the thoughtful content I’ve produced over the past two years.”

Jess contrasts her recent experience with filling out applications and blogging-

“In many ways, I find funding applications  to be the polar opposite of blogging. When you apply for funding you spend most of your time trying to write for an audience who, on a visceral level, are  extremely disinterested in what you have to say. When you blog, you invest far less time writing for an audience who will VOLUNTARILY read what you write.”

Carl lays out his future hopes for his blog-

“I’d like to write stuff that appeals to readers who know archaeology as well as those that have an interest. I’m also focusing a bit more on social media and pushing news to my Facebook and Twitter feeds, which has had a bit of success. As far as the content, I’d like to delve more into the importance of preservation, the effects of looting and careless damage to sites, and the new advances in technology that help with archaeological research.”

Martin brings us a not so trivial issue of blogging-

“…but here is where I can add quick updates, try out bits of text, and provide pointers to related sources.

This last point sounds trvivial, but it is easy to overlook. Before websites, the following up of an article’s references was a long, tedious and frustrating experience, even for people who had the chance to drop in to a university library that might hold the relevant journals. Now there’s a lot that is readily available, and linked directly. It’s true that much academic publishing is locked off to all but specialists in academia, but even so it is much easier to be well-informed than it used to be.”

Matt shares his thoughts on liberation through blogging-

“I see blogging as a microcosm of the World Wide Web. A blog is a tool to say something to a wider audience. Some blogs have absolutely huge followings and can literally be mechanisms in which to inform, educate and effect change. Others are a bit more low-key but might have a deeper, more personal impact.

What I am trying to say, albeit a little grandiosely, is that blogging is actually quite liberating. You can channel passion and interest into an end product that could, potentially at least, be read by thousands of people. If you compare this to periods of the past, the life changing dimension of such communication is quite striking.”

Kelly shares her personal goal for her blog and some thoughts on all of blogging-

“As for archaeology blogging as a whole, I’d like to see it continue on its current trajectory and to remain as free as possible. In a world of paywalls and subscription fees, blogs play a vital role in providing the general public with free, easy access to academic research. We can’t expect people to get excited about archaeology or form their own opinions about the past if the necessary information isn’t readily available to them. “

Katy does a really interesting look at the blogs she follows-

“This conviction led me to take a broad look at the blogs that I am currently following; 21 blogs appearing in my WordPress Reader, one I pick up through RSS and two via e-mail.   Why do I follow them and what can I learn from them?   Where are they going?   Here are a few observations based on the 21 blogs in my Reader.”

Heritage Action says they have no plans for world domination, :( too bad-

“There is no conscious plan for world domination! The Heritage Journal has grown organically, improving in content and visitors year on year, but we feel it has remained largely true to our original guiding principles. That is, to be a voice for the ordinary person concerned about damage to prehistory. We believe we fill a gap in the market in that respect, and have been quite successful in doing so to date.”

Bernard gives us this great image in his last contribution-

Katrin gives a look at some of the blogs she no longer follows and what that might mean for our own-

“There’s quite a list of blogs these days that I used to read, but stopped after a while – because the blog’s focus changed, because my interest in the topic waned, because I felt that I got no new input, or because I was annoyed by the much too infrequent updates. Some blogs fell silent, and I missed them a lot for a while.”

Geoff tells us how blogging challenges the monopoly of peer review-

“Originally, Iron Age Roundhouses were a key focus, but since most people imagine they have seen one this is probably beyond rational redemption, however, blogging has allowed me to follow an entirely different route, and to challenge the rationality aspects of peer reviewed Roman archaeology.  The idea of peer review is that it is a firewall that keeps the Nonsense out, although in reality and can serve to protect and perpetuate the nonsense already inside.”

Chris lays out what he wants blogs to become-

“The simple answer is that I would like to see blogging become a jumping off point for conversations in different mediums and among different people. Good blogs should turn into TV shows, documentaries, books, and podcasts. Start the conversation on the blog and continue it elsewhere.

Some blogs already do this in various ways. A few are syndicated on larger websites and some bloggers have been asked to write for larger media outlets. My own blog is coming out in a few weeks as a book from Left Coast Press. Well, part of a series I did, anyway. “

Howard lays out a list of things he wants to do with blogging, including more video blogging-

“I want to re-engage with video-blogging; something pioneered (at least for me) through discussion between me by my then-undergraduate student Joseph Tong as a part of Project Eliseg. We have our own Project Eliseg Media site on Youtube and Facebook where you can see our video blogs from the 2011 and 2012 field seasons. I hope to be able to use this as an alternative way to engage people with my work and with the places and landscapes I am visiting as a part of my research. I am not sure how, but that is my aspiration that in future, as yet unplanned, fieldwork, blogging is utlised as an ideal way to update academics and the public in an honest, sometimes humorous and direct way about my research.”

David sees the need to continue to blog-

“I would like to think that the art market, private collectors, and public museums have now distanced themselves from handling recently surfaced antiquities and therefore there is no need to continue ‘Looting Matters’. But in the coming days objects handled by Giacomo Medici and Gianfranco Becchina are due to resurface on the London market through major auction houses. And in the last week it has been announced that Hungary has purchased part of the Sevso Treasure.”

Alice brings up the point that we know very little about archaeology bloggers-

“A couple of years ago, when I was reading around the area of archaeological blogging to prepare a paper for the first ever Digital Humanities Australasia conference, I found that no-one had really studied or written about individual archaeology bloggers. (This may have changed since). Almost all of the papers I came across dealt with institutional blogs based around a university department, a museum, or a project. To date I’ve seen nothing concrete about how the higher-ups in university administration and policy imagine academic engagement with social media, and I’d be surprised if a great many of them were actively engaged in the Versosphere themselves (I just made that word up – TwitterVERSE + blogOSPHERE. Naturally, it includes everything else). So it’s important, I think, to have some data not just about the group blogs but also the individuals.”

Brenna ponders how she has moved on from a personal blog to a group blog-

“This does rather beg the question – why bother?

Well, one answer is, I increasingly don’t. My personal blog languishes as research projects that really can’t be discussed publicly (by request of the PI, but also because I work with medical data and that is a big no-no) take over my time. What was once an outlet for side projects I couldn’t see leading to publication (looking at you, augmented reality skulls!) is now almost solely about communicating the experience of being an early career researcher. Because the field project I’ve been working on already has it’s own fantastic blog, I don’t feel I have to share that side of my work in a new forum. And finally, nothing in the news recently has pissed me off enough to write out a sarcastic rant.
Of course, if you know me under my other identity, as 1/4 of Team TrowelBlazers, you also know I’m totally lying when I say I don’t blog as much. I blog ALL THE TIME. A post a week, for a year, on awesome fantastically-be-hatted, snake-wearing, Olympic-fencing women archaeologists, geologists, and palaeontologists.”
Robert looks at three general themes Information Sharing, Diversity and Relevance-
” Counting hits, reblogs, comments are gauges of whether the information presented is considered of value.  But my primary motivation for continuing to blog comes from the side comments made in phone calls, emails, or visits with colleagues and students who note how a particular post was helpful to them.  These interactions confirm to me that there is a desire for sharing information, my basis for launching this blog in the first place.”
Beverley has a bright future in sight for her blog-
“As for my little blog here, not even one year old (they grow up so fast. *wipes tear), I hope to produce more and more news and interesting blog posts for people to visit everyday, and sooner or later keep it going and write about dig and excavation experiences (if I can get on some) and also try to make archaeology cool for the masses, because let’s face it, it is!Basically I would want to do it full-time.But it takes a lot of work to get your blog going and to establish a following, especially being a South African archaeology blogger! After almost a year of blogging in this field now, I’ve figured out I was pretty naive about the work load, research and content needed to keep the gears oiled. Blogging is hard, it’s a challenge, but that’s what makes it exciting.”
Alexandra uses the most recent events with Nazi diggers to look at blogging-
“PS: a friend once asked me if I never get tired of supporting various causes. Of course I do, who won’t? to have to go in the streets and protest against the destruction of heritage/ environment , to advocate for a reflexive and public archaeology versus “universal objective” truths, to raise some questions regarding what is happening with the human body in the contemp. world etc.. Blogging is a great medium for getting across all of these issues and the only answer to the above question is:…….”
Bill gives us his ten year plan and how blogging fits into it-
“While our knowledge of the past has exploded in the last 50 years, I’ve been wondering about the effect all of that archaeology and preservation has had on our societies. We archaeologists know more than ever before, but the Average Joe on the street has no idea what his/her ancestors were doing 2,000, 500, even 50 years ago. We could just say, “that’s because the Average Joe is an idiot that spends too much time on Facebook and watching ‘Game of Thrones.’” Or, we could reflexively look at ourselves and see what more we can do to combat the onslaught of ridiculous shows that are playing a defining role in how the mainstream views our profession.How can we teach the general public about archaeology and historic preservation? How can we change the way the public views us? How can we tell the rest of the world about the value of historic preservation?The best way to change the public’s perception of historic preservation and archaeology is to get down in the mud on their level and, one-by-one, show them how they directly benefit from knowledge of and preserving the past.”
“As for the last question in Doug Rocks-Macqueen’s tirelessly run carnival, ‘where are you/we going with blogging or would you it like to go?’ Hopefully, more people will see the power (and freedom) that we have and start blogging, whether it is campaigning, enlightening or entertaining. My blogging is going to change, but I can’t quite yet say how…”
“In a broader perspective, I would like to see a growing impact of archaeological blogging, in the archaeological community but more than ever in the wider public, too. In a sense, archaeological blogging to me is a way to be heard, to get to a wider public and to take archaeology out of the ivory tower of science back to the people. Maybe this is different in Germany than in Great Britain or the USA. Here, Archaeology needs to go out and find new followers and new inspiration in order to get back to a standing it once had.”
Emily talks about something near and dear to my heart, Open Access and blogging-
“So where do I see blogging going in the future? I can see it becoming far more accepted, nay encouraged, as a form of academic dissemination. Or maybe I hope that academic dissemination becomes more like blogging. I hope that intellectual discourse becomes more open, more conversational, and less regimented. I am sure that if this happens, it’ll be thanks to the way that blogging culture has effected the academic community.”
Kristina shares some of her future posts she hopes to write and they look awesome-
  • “Anthropologists Note that Women Are Like Cats.  This idea came from something I saw in either Cosmo or Glamour citing the ever-controversial Helen Fisher on how women arch their backs like cats to be attractive to mates or some such nonsense. I wanted to dismantle this kind of pseudo-bioanth nonsense, but I haven’t gotten around to it.
  • Amputations in Antiquity.  I just thought it would be fun to check into the evidence for this, particularly in the Roman world, and write a summary post on it.”

Marcel illuminates a key area that this carnival has missed -

“…it has been great to see such a large part of the international archaeological blogging community come together and take part. However, it has been mostly bloggers from the English speaking world. And that is something I am a bit surprised about and I would really like to see changed. It would be fantastic to see more archaeologists from non-English speaking countries to start their own blogs and become more active on social media. “

Campus Archaeology shares what it is like to run a group blog-
“Campus Archaeology is a unique type of blog. It isn’t run by an individual, though it is overseen by Dr. Lynne Goldstein. There isn’t a single individual who writes the content- though oftentimes the Campus Archaeologist, the head of daily operations for the group, blogs more than other individuals. There is a wide range of voices on the site, coming from a wide range of backgrounds. Some are sixth year graduate students studying bioarchaeology, others are freshman undergraduates who are just beginning to understand what archaeology really is. The tone of the writing, the focus of the posts, and the goals of the blog are constantly shifting with the various Campus Archaeologists, graduate research fellows and undergraduate interns. I believe that it is this diversity which keeps the blog interesting- even if we touch on similar topics, it is from a different perspective.”
Katy is coming to a crossroads in her life and she is wondering how blogging fits in-
“I’ve actually been thinking about the future of this blog quite a bit. I’m coming to the last year or so on my PhD, and I’ve been wondering where Bones Don’t Lie fits into my larger professional life. There’s been a lot of discussion around the academic community about where blogs stand- are they a form of publication? Are they simply outreach and service to the broader public? Or are they simply a distraction (or procrastination) from ‘real’ work?”
“My hope is that professional archaeologists and their national and regional societies figure out a way to tap into all the enthusiasm and talent that exists. Public outreach efforts should not be limited to any single venue, such as blogs, of course. Nevertheless, this resource already exists and could be very easily incorporated into a comprehensive media strategy. The collection of papers on blogging and archaeology at the upcoming SAA meetings in Austin looks like a good opportunity to get further exposure to ideas about the potentials and pitfalls of blogging, for those folks who are interested.”
“The number of printed archaeological publications is still increasing constantly and is hard to overlook. There is a need for Open Access in research, at the same time, quality assurance mechanisms have to be adapted.
Die Zahl gedruckter archäologischer Publikationen nimmt noch immer laufend zu und ist kaum noch zu überblicken. Open Access ist eine Notwendigkeit für die Forschung, gleichzeitig müssen Mechanismen der Qualitätssicherung angepasst werden.
“The problem is that one can blog as much as one likes, write however much sense or stupidity, put however much effort into writing something which forms a logical whole, or go for a quick laugh or provocative one-liner, the results areat presentmore or less the same. British archaeology has not matured to using this kind of discussion to any significant degree to investigate the full richness of the discussion onthe treatment of the remains of the past.Where there is an “Other” (Fox media) to unite against, no problem. Everybody and their uncle willingly climbs on the bandwaggon. When there is a methodological (or ideological one might say) problem to be examined, and especially one that might bring one in contact with metal detectorists (a group of people on whom opinions are very divided in British archaeology), then British archaeologists are not at all keen to go very deeply into the subject by looking at what others are saying. And if they do, they are far more inclined to adopt the tactics of the metal detectorist (dismiss and ignore that which does not fit with the easiest way out) than actually engage in discussion. In that sense, in my opinion, archaoblogging is going nowhere within archaeology, its value is however in highlighting the issues that archaeologists will not tackle and getting people outside the charmed circles of jobsworthism asking why that is and what that says about the shape of archaeology today. “
“In the last year and a half, I have written very little, owing to work and family obligations. And in that time I have consideredthe question ofwhether or not I will continue blogging, and, if I do, what my goals will be.I would like to continue, but I don’t know how realistic that is. As my daughter gets older, she will require less constant one-on-one attention, which may free up some of my time. However, I am taking on more and more responsibilities at work, which take up more of my time. So, in the end, I don’t know if I will have time to return to blogging on a regular basis. I hope to, but I don’t know if I will.”

Sarah echos a similar problem of finding time to blog-

“So, I’m going to try to squeeze in this post just under the wire. I managed to respond to the first month’s question for the Blogging Archaeology Carnival (#blogarch) back in November, and that was it before I got pulled into a vortex of family holidays, international travel, and dissertating. The last query for #blogarch in the lead-up to #SAA2014 asks us to discuss our goals for blogging and where we hope it takes us and archaeology.”

And not to get too depressing but Carl is in the same boat as Sarah and Matt-

“I don’t know if I’m going to keep doing it. This is not because I see it as being of little value, but it takes time to do and even more time to do well. That’s time I just don’t have. I put in enough extra time at my job that I basically neglect my wife and cats to a truly shameful degree, and I’m not interested in burning up my time with them to do yet more work-related stuff. Seriously. Not-blogging, I logged 243 hours last month.”

Serra puts forward a proposal-

“I propose approaching your favorite Prof or Academic and offering to team up. Offer to help, offer to host, or ask to just interview them fairly. Don’t give up easily, it only takes seven days on average to learn a new technology, ask them to try it for a week, a month, a year, and then let them bail (I bet they won’t at that point).

Anyway, that’s where I see my blog and where I’d like to see the community as a whole go. If you’re interested in helping out or just getting started, email me at archyfantasies@gmail.com or if you can go blog with ArcheoWebby at his new Blogging Collective , it’s more field related and less pseudoarchaeology related. Send your professors, your class mates, your students, your crew chief, and your fellow field techs!”

I am going to leave you with this teaser about what Terry said-

Image: Keoni Cabral / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

“For those who don’t know, Emily Graslie used to be a volunteer at the University of Montana’s Philip L. Wright Zoological Museum, with a cool little tumblr about natural history and museums. Now, through both her own sheer amazingness and a couple of lucky breaks (but mostly her sheer amazingness), she is one of the best-known science vloggers out there, with a series called The Brain Scoop. Now, where is our Anthropology/Archaeology Emily?”
“My first hope for blogging, the reason I became interested in it in the first place, is that it bridges the gap between the public and the world of academia. It would not only accomplish the goal of engaging the public with the past on a most basic level, but perhaps even play a larger role in the education of students at both the high school and college levels. In an ideal world, teachers would no longer just go by the textbook in their classrooms, but engage students in a variety of perspectives as a vital part of their education (the goal here being partially to encourage independent thinking, a skill woefully lacking in our public school systems). Blogs are no longer run by “that shady guy” in the public mind, but by our friends, our colleagues, often people whose work we aspire to live up to.”
“It always amuses me to remember that I became interested in archaeology in large part because I was pointedly disinterested in modern technologies… and yet here we are, using those same modern technologies to preserve and promulgate knowledge of the past.”
Edit- These Bones of Mine joins us for our last month-
“This blog has recently passed 1 million views, which is pretty cool I think for something that I started in my bedroom whilst thinking about the forthcoming Masters degree, and more specifically about what I could do to try to improve my knowledge before I started the degree.  Now I am post-Masters, looking towards a few possible futures on the horizon.  My email inbox for this blog has started to ping a bit more than usual recently, with various different requests or offers starting to arrive.  Everything from students wanting to know more about the human skeleton and asking questions on essays and research, publishing houses informing me of their latest open access journals, to offers of review books for exhibitions or novels.  It is pretty interesting and I am very much enjoying helping out where I can, especially in being able to help share knowledge and advice, or to inform a reader on what collections or museums to check out for human osteological collections.  This is something that I should probably write a post about, now I come to think about it.”
Edit- So does Graecomuse-
Frankly though my main goal is a bit selfish. I have fun researching things and blogging is just fun. But in the end I would like blogging to continue what it has already started, making archaeology and ancient history more inclusive and more available to everyone. So many people are not aware of the value of archaeology and history and it’s about time they were. And I think bloggers and others are finally achieving this. For instance it is through people like us that word is got out about bad archaeological practices. For instance the horrible National Geographic Show Nazi Diggers which got pulled before it ever aired because of PUBLIC and professional outcries.
Edit- Not to be left out Jennifer joins in on the carnival- http://jennifermcniven.com/blogging-archaeology/
Edit- one last one and it is very good-
“It is clear to me from the recent SAAs that we need more debate our our discipline. While polemic is tiresome and often pointless, we need everyone to continue to challenge each other in a positive way to improve the work that we do. If our goal is to do archaeology as a science then we need to think deeply and carefully about how we construct our observations to produce explanations. It is easy to get complacent or to slip into common sense thinking given the implicit nature of our own common sense. We need to call each other out on sloppy thinking, poor use of reasoning, and botched analytic applications. This criticism need not be Flannery-esque (and other like him) name calling though I suppose some of that goes with the territory. But as a discipline we are much richer and and productive when we are explicit in our thinking about what we do and when we tease apart the often implicit relations between our ideas and the empirical world.”
As always, apologies if I missed anyone. Post here and I will add you. I also know some people who said they will be posting a little later so will add them to the end here. Also, apologies if I haven’t responded to your posts or emails. As you can see I got your work and it is post and I am sorry for not responding individually.
Thank you everyone who participated. You have made this one amazing blogging carnival.

End it with a Party!

You should always end with a party. So if you happen to be in Austin for the SAAs check out the session on blogging, it will have some of these amazing #blogarch bloggers there. Also, John is putting together a party of ArchaeoBloggers and TweetingArchaeos, etc. So if you want a real chance to talk to some of your fellow bloggers here are the details from John-
“…..It’s on Thursday, April 24th at The Liberty, 1618 1/2 East Sixth St. Starts at 5 o’clock pm with no set end time. The bar has good happy hour deals, might have drink specials for us, and there’s one of the most famous food trucks in the country (East Side Kings) out back.”

 

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