SAA Blog Carnival: Where Will Blogging take Archaeology in the Future?

This post is my belated attempt to participate in the final month of the Blogging Carnival hosted by Doug over at the renowned Doug’s Archaeology Blog.  Although my carnival posts only add up to a pitifully small number (2), I have been enjoying myself immensely reading all of the fantastic posts by other bloggers! At the very least, this carnival has introduced me to some pretty wonderful sites – my “Blogs I Follow” list has practically tripled.

The question to answer this month has to do with where archaeology blogging is heading… what our goals are for our own blogs in particular or archaeology blogging in general. And, most importantly, the direction that we hope blogging is going to take the discipline.

Throughout this carnival, my eyes have been opened to all of the different ways people discuss archaeology and anthropology on their blogs. For some, their blog is a blatant and acknowledged soap box; for others, it’s a way to get the general public interested in a specific project. For many, however, it’s simply a way to talk to the anonymous masses of the internet about a topic important to them. Most of the blogs I’ve read are somehow specialized; they focus on certain topics such as bioarchaeology, looting, museum practices, or a geographic region, etc. My own blog is specialized by both method (zooarchaeology and ethnobiology) and geographic region (Arctic… mostly Alaska). And I’ve come to realize that I don’t write for the general public. My pages (and the small number of posts that I’ve actually written) are geared towards notifying other zooarchaeologists of potentially-hard-to-find-but-useful resources. And in retrospect,  this was my goal when I started blogging.

After reading so many other archaeologists’ blogs over the last several months, I’ve come to appreciate how great a medium blogging is for public outreach. As we become more inexorably linked to the internet (it still amazes me to think how far computers, tablets, and cellphones have come since I was a child!), the public, our students, and our colleagues are going to be looking for (and expecting) a quick and easy way to catch up on archaeological news without plowing through dense journal articles. The importance of visibility and accessibility (read: less jargon, more photos) for archaeological projects is just going to increase. We’ve all experienced how this trend is already being pushed by granting agencies; the expectation of ‘connectedness’ is rampant in all aspects of our lives.

I believe that blogging will become an increasingly popular media in the future. I’m incredibly glad to see how well archaeologists around the world are already utilizing the format to get information out into the blogosphere. I hope that, as a discipline, we will soon be sharing our data online as freely as we do our opinions and news blurbs. For me personally… I think it may be time to revamp my blog. And maybe (if we get funding this season…knock on wood), I’ll create one about our project site specifically geared towards the public. There are so many good examples of archaeology blogs already out there to emulate!

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.



SAA Blog Carnival: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Associated with the “Blogging in Archaeology” session at the upcoming Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Doug’s Archaeology is hosting a blog carnival that I will be participating in, along with an incredibly large number of other, excellent bloggers!  Unfortunately I missed the month of November, but below is my response for December:

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Blogging

Let me start this post with a hats off to the wonderful 1966 archetypal Clint Eastwood Western The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. SO GOOD. Okay. It seems appropriate that a question posed to archaeologists alludes to a movie in which people were trying to find buried treasure (Confederate gold). So most of us don’t carry pistols and engage in duels at high noon, so what! I carry a shotgun, and most of my California brethren wear cowboy hats… doesn’t that count? I think a Western featuring archaeologists would be amazing! Not quite as exotic as Indiana Jones or Romancing the Stone, but probably a bit closer to reality (lots of plodding across barren landscapes). But anyways…

The Good – For me, the best part about blogging is sharing information with the public and other archaeologists. Some of the things I most appreciate about other people’s blogs are stories and photos of their work. It seems that most people blog because they’re excited about what they do, and that enthusiasm is translated easily over the blog format, which allows us to post photos and links as well as words. And although many of us also post photos of our field or lab work on other types of social media, blogging allows us to reach people other than our Facebook friends. For me, blogging is a (slightly) more professional outlet where I can express my ideas and concerns about anthropology in general and my research in particular, and I don’t have to worry about old high school friends or my second cousin pestering me about it, or complaining that I take up too much of their news feed.

I also love it when people list suggestions for hard-to-find articles or books on their blogs.  This is something that I do on this blog, and I hope it is as useful to others as I find it to be. Reading blogs allows me to keep up with certain aspects of anthropology and archaeology that I wouldn’t, otherwise! None of us have the time (or access) to read all of the new articles and books that come out every month. Many blogs that I follow post reviews of books, or discuss new research or recent events. This is incredibly useful, and something that I hope to do more of in the future.

The Bad – The worst part about blogging is the time it takes. I don’t post very often, and I wish I did. Despite my best intentions, I’ve found it difficult to set aside the time I need to research and write a post. As mentioned in previous posts, I have a list (which keeps getting longer) of topics that I would like to blog about… I just haven’t done it yet! I often end up avoiding my blog all together, because it frustrates me that I’m not more prolific. Blogging, no matter how ‘professional’ you intend to be, is personal. I often don’t end up posting something because I’m not satisfied with the quality of writing. We don’t have anonymous reviewers or editors that can check our posts for us. It’s worse when you’re blogging for an actual organization or department. I’m currently writing for the Arctic Anthropology blog, which is a lot of fun, but it takes me a ridiculous amount of time to write the posts. There is a tricky line to toe – to be neutral and professional while still being interesting. In today’s world of Buzzfeed headlines and Facebook polls on the news, this is more difficult than you might think! All I know is, is that I can whip out a 1500-word essay in half the time it takes me to write a 500-word blog post. and that’s just silly.

The Ugly – I haven’t had an ugly experience with blogging yet (knock on wood!). The worst thing that’s happened so far was someone whose website I had listed under a certain subject heading contacted me and asked for it to be moved under a more appropriate heading… completely reasonable and an easy fix. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve avoided talking about controversial subjects (I definitely find myself staying away from topics that encourage me to I break out my soapbox), or because Arctic zooarchaeology and ethnobiology isn’t very interesting to most people out there in the InterWeb, but my experience blogging (and reading blogs) has thankfully stayed away from the ugly side of things!

On that happy note, I’ll conclude this post. I encourage you to check out all of the other blogs that are participating in the SAA Blog Carnival, and to participate yourself if you are interested! Also, if you’re on Twitter please use #blogarch when discussing the blog carnival or blogging session!