So for my second real blog post I am joining what it is called a blog carnival. Basically, a question is posed and a bunch of bloggers put forth their response/answers/thoughts/whatever they want. Its been going for a couple of weeks so I am joining late, but here is this weeks question:
“A final downside to the short form is the appearance of dialog. Noting this virtual round table and other blogs (like MS) as exceptions, most archaeological blogs that I read have very little in the way of dialog through comments. Often on this blog, I feel like I am talking to myself, which in a way is catharsis, but if an archaeology blogger writes and no one reacts, are we really changing opinions or moving the field forward?” I would add to this, how do you attract readership? Without too much in the way of SEO chatter, who is your audience and how to you interact with this audience? What do you want out of interactivity by means of blogging about archaeology?
A couple of hard questions especially considering I just started blogging. Hhhhhhhmmmm………………………………… To tackle the question “no one reacts, are we really changing opinions or moving the field forward?” my short answer is yes.
Edit– so I did have a talk here about how I personally have been influenced by blogs but do not leave comments but over at electronic archaeologists there is a superior visual of how blogging influences. I will reference you there and skip to why some people don’t comment.
Why I do not leave comments and suspect why others don’t ether:
First, there are a lot cosmetic problems e.g. comment sections are hidden, there are character limits on comments, etc. that make it difficult for people to respond. Issues like these are always going to stop a few people.
Side note- I am mainly talking about comments as meaningful interaction and discussion about ideas and concepts. Another type of response could be simply, “hey, great post keep up the good work”. If that is what you are looking for as a blogger, validation, then you my be in it for the wrong reasons, even though that is nice to have sometimes.
Those cosmetic issues aside, I think the real problem lies mainly with us bloggers. How many blogs ask for input? How many posts end with “hey reader, leave a comment” or ” I want to know what you think” ? I find very few blogs actually invite comments. It takes time to craft a well put together response, time that no one wants to waste. As a commenter, if you are not sure that anyone is going to respond/appreciate your work then why comment. Hhhmmm bloggers and commenters have a lot in common.
The blog carnival and the responses came about because questions were specifically asked of others. I think if you, as a blogger, are looking for that sort of response then you need to be proactive and create it.
In that same token we, archaeologists bloggers, need to be realists about where archaeology and our interests lie in the wider world. I know, that in all likelihood, I might be the only archaeologists working on an agent-based site predictive model. Even if there are more out there I am still confident that it is less than a dozen. They also have to find my blog on the internet(not that easy these days) and find it interesting enough to comment on. Those are not good odds, probably about on par with winning at the tracks. Now of course there are lots of people with side interests that will over lap with what I write and might find my work interesting enough to read and maybe comment on. Again, we are not talking huge numbers. While, I wish my blog could have millions of hits and hundreds of comments I know that my target audience, people with my same interests in archaeology, is not big enough to support that. If I wanted those numbers I probably should have started a celebrity gossip blog, archaeology just doesn’t have the pull.
In short, my answers are: yes it changes views, BUT you must be proactive, and be realistic for interaction.
The last few questions: my audience is people with similar interests in archaeology but since I have just started blogging I am not sure it will stay that way or if I even have an audience. I probably should get an audience before I even consider how I would like to interact with them. Though, I am not sure I want people to comment as so much contribute – it would be great to have a few guest bloggers with different views and thoughts. Maybe this could lead to a debate of some sort.