From Terminal 3 in Heathrow, between Mulberry and TGIFriday, here’s the last edition of Blogging Archaeology. Our SAA session in in a couple of days and I’ll be covering it (and probably the rest of the SAA) on twitter: check #blogarch or http://twitter.com/clmorgan for updates.
Last week I was prompted to ask about possible outcomes of this conversation, after several participants expressed interest in publication:
For our last question, I would like to ask you to consider the act of publication for this blog carnival. How could we best capture the interplay, the multimedia experience of blogging as a more formalized publication? What would be the best outcome for this collection of insights from archaeological bloggers?
First, I recommend reading the comments on last week’s entry, where Jonathan Jarrett from tenthmedieval discusses the electronic publication of blogs, noting that it is considered the lowest form of publication because it is considered transient. This is a good point, and one well taken. Jonathan also questions peer review of blogs–after so much speculation regarding peer-reviewed blogging, I think that an experiment might be in order. I will likely bring this up during the blogging session, if we have time to chat.
Shawn, the Electric Archaeologist provides a few good reference links about “the relationship between blogging and other academic forms of discourse” and makes the good point that the best outcome for many of us would be a refereed publication. I wonder if there is a middle ground available for us here, something that would satisfy both the academic community and be digital, open, and more suitable to the conversational tone of blogging.
Bill Caraher from The New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World has been giving me great feedback via email and contributes to the conversation by offering some observations about publishing Blogging Archaeology in a traditional manner. He specifically cites transmedia dialogue, that is, “the interaction between various forms of web-based media” as well as that between digital and paper media. He also makes the excellent point that as archaeologists we are attuned contextual shifts and translating meaning from physical objects into “the more elusive realm of practice, social structure economic organization, and political life” and so we should be able to negotiate the structure and meaning of blogs to some other media. He suggests that we build a blog catalog with an eye toward the archive, which I heartily endorse. I wonder if we could build upon Shawn’s network of interconnection to create this catalog. There are several other insights in his blog post–I highly recommend a wander over his way to check his post out.
Matt Law suggests that we check out the Archaeological Record, the SAA publication as a possible format, and perhaps that peer review is not the best format. Publication is an unexpected outcome for him, but he hopes that any results will be published quickly and that it will “embrace the informality” of blogging. Bill’s comments on the post are worth checking out as well.
Passim in Passing (who has remixed the logo each week to a horror-show theme) is happy to have found other blogs and suggests that we might be able to offer “text summaries alongside some visual mapping of the responses” – I would hope this as well–visualization tools are so close and so adaptable that it is worthwhile to try to do something creative, building on Shawn’s cool graph. Hmmm.
Doug’s Archaeology was also caught off-guard, and notes that his page view count has gone up considerably, though it might result from a post about Lew Binford’s health. He encourages other bloggers to consider the consequences of blogging and to make sure to have a polished and up-to-date CV–which reminds me, mine is woefully outdated and badly formatted.
Dig Girl makes the great point that a formal publication would “go against the very virtues of blogging that many in this carnival have been rallying around: flexibility, informality, and dialog.” She feels the same though, that the “experience has been a unique one that warrants some kind of formal and creative documentation.” She also points out that there is a discussion of archival of RSS feeds, noting that “perhaps one day your rambling posts could end up automatically archived on a progressive digital library system.” Amazing stuff!
MSU’s blog answered as a group for this edition–they too suggest the Archaeological Record, with online hosting from the SAA. There was also the suggestion of a blogroll, which I think makes sense. I try to keep my links updated, but there might be a better place for this than on just one individual’s blog. Thank you very much for mustering such a strong response every week, MSU!
John at Where in the Hell Am I? also likes the idea of a publication in the SAA’s Archaeological Record and hopes that more archaeologists might consider starting a blog as a result. He also would like for CRM to be more open to blogging and notes that the people in his office don’t consider his participation at the SAA in a blogging session to be “particularly valuable.” This is frustrating and as John says, “perpetuates the view of CRM as small-scale and unable to be involved in big-picture ideas.” I would also encourage John’s bosses to check out the incredible public education and outreach that Wessex Archaeology is continuing to do in the digital realm.
Michael Smith at Publishing Archaeology is not sold on publication of the Blogging Archaeology conversation, and brings up the two very good questions: Who is the audience? and What is the purpose? He wonders if such a publication would alleviate the “blog-cluelessness” among influential archaeologists. I too am unsure about this and about the potential audience. His questions are good ones, and only answered in part by the participants in the Blogging Carnival. I look forward to his paper at the SAA–I’m sure it will push us to produce something that is both inventive but also useful to the profession.
Alun Salt reacts to these points and wonders if a digital-only publication would be ignored by the “blog-clueless,” and provides a model in Holtorf and Karlsson’s recent Philosophy and Archaeological Practice. I’ll have to check it out, but I wonder, if blogging is a shout in the digital dark, what better is a collected volume? This is obviously a collaborative product, and I wonder if separating this conversations into chapters would not be the best transmedia approach. It would preserve some authorship at perhaps the expense of interactivity and informality. Alun wasn’t forcefully arguing the point–I think one of the most interesting outcomes of this blog carnival could be a brave new publication standard–not that I’m holding my breath.
Terry Brock at Dirt wonders about using Anthologize, but also perhaps having a collaborative blog. I like the idea of a “home base” and I would be happy to contribute posts toward such a thing. Building a community is a happy outcome of this session, and now has a community that has become self-aware, perhaps it’s time to make others aware of us.
Throughout the carnival I thought about contributing my own posts, but it was a true pleasure to collate and react to the reactions of others–so much so that by the time I was finished reading and reacting, most of my thoughts on the subject had been covered! As the organizer/instigator I am extraordinarily pleased at the nuanced responses that the carnival has attracted. We will discuss this further at the SAAs, and I will do my best to report this conversation. Also, I hope to move forward with the following points:
1) Catching the network/Archiving the conversation - listing/archiving and keywording the responses would be a boon to any further work or conceptualization of the carnival as a particular moment in time that can be referenced and built upon.
2) Blogroll – Building a central place that would serve as an RSS feed and maintained list of links would be a fantastic idea. I think it would also serve a great place for…
3) …Peer-review for blog posts – While it would be a drag (in my opinion) to have every single one of my posts go through a vetting process, I think there should be a mechanism for peer-review. My thoughts are that it should be an open review, such as a google document, and comment would be asked from both bloggers/digital archaeologists and peers drawn from the subject matter. After the blog post has passed this process, it would receive a “stamp” and a link back from the central site, with a particular note that this post is peer reviewed. Much like the “research blogging” phenomenon, this would provide readers (the blog-clueless, in particular) a venue for receiving vetted blog posts and would perhaps draw the non-blogging peer-reviewers into the conversation without necessitating their hosting/maintaining their own blog.
I’ll see many of you at the SAA–I have to catch my plane!