Blogging Archaeology – Afterwords

Kris was waiting for me at the Starbucks in the Convention Center a couple of hours before the session. We were in the same session together at the SAA in 2007, when I urged my fellow archaeologists to use spatially-aware social media for outreach and she had enthusiastically supported me in her comments on my paper–it was good to see her again! I was a little late because I wanted to see Randy McGuire’s talk in the Activism in Archaeology session. (Thought provoking, but there is a fundamental disconnect rampant in public outreach and archaeology that I’ve been dared to blog about. We’ll see if I get up the courage.)

We chatted about the upcoming session and I groggily admitted that I had depleted most of my resources just to get to the conference, but after some coffee and a sandwich I was ready. I usually like to check out the room ahead of schedule and spend some time getting to know the space. I stood at the mic and welcomed an empty room to the Blogging Archaeology session at the meeting for the Society for American Archaeology.

The session participants began to show up and I told them the routine, asked if they had any questions, then spent a bit of time making sure Shawn Graham’s presentation would work. We didn’t have any computer speakers so the wonderful Sacramento Convention Center AV staff member (Hi Max! Thanks!!) gave us an extra-long mic cord that I held next to my computer for the talk.

And the show began.

The speakers were beyond excellent. They gave compelling, intelligent and surprisingly funny talks about the place of blogging in archaeology. The energy in the room was great and our audience stayed with us–I was in the front most of the time, but I did a quick headcount and came up with about 75 people in the room early in the session. Later it would grow to 100-125 and I spotted the friendly faces of colleagues, students, and my former CRM boss! Whispers went around–was that John Hawks in the audience?

A summary of the papers seems unnecessary because the whole session was live-tweeted, the results of which have been collated by @archaeologist at Storify and Shawn Graham and John Lowe have posted their papers online. Needless to say, I believe that between the blog carnival and the strong session presentation and discussion, we have a firm foundation to pursue publication.

As the community has become self-aware, some have taken it upon themselves to implement key questions and interests that were raised by the carnival and session.

Past Thinking has published a list of archaeology blogs, along with a bundle in Google Reader for the RSS-dependent like myself.

Alun Salt has expanded on the idea of a group blog – this is essential reading for bloggers who are interested in the possibility. The carnival was harder work and took longer than I anticipated, and editing a group blog would only amplify the amount of work and attention necessary to create a quality outcome.

Thank you so much to everyone who participated in this timely and essential conversation about the place of the short form in archaeology.

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14 responses to “Blogging Archaeology – Afterwords

  1. If you dare to blog about it, I give you permission to use my quote about public outreach that could get me in trouble.

  2. Although my quote and the fundamental disconnect are only marginally related…

  3. Colleen, I enjoyed the whole session. It was one of the reasons I attended the conference. Well done.

    There are many disconnects between archaeology & public outreach. Is going public a new version of going native? Are archaeologists really sincere about engaging the public? or is it just an act? Are archaeologists really interested in giving up authority? Do we really want to know what the Native Americans think? Do you like working with volunteers? There are many more. Please, tell us which one you are interested in.

  4. Excellent session, one of my favorites for the whole conference (I stayed for the whole session). I have been following your blog for a little while now, between that, the session, and some recent discussions with co-workers, I am almost ready to start one myself. Just need to figure out appropriate methods of anonymity so I can keep my job…

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  6. I’m sorry I added to the stress of the day with my remote presentation, but I’m glad it worked out in the end. Thank you so much for organizing the session, and rounding up the carnival!

  7. @Shawn Nope, it was great, thank you very much–you sounded so tired in your v/o, I felt bad!

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  10. This sounds like it was an excellent session. I’m only sorry that my being based so far away (in Australia) made it unfeasable to reach the SAAs this year. I’m certainly aiming for 2012 or 2013 though, so here’s hoping this session can continue then.

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