Tag Archives: blog carnival

Blogging Archaeology – Week 2

There was a remarkable response to this first question–thanks to everyone who took the time to reply. The posts are outstanding and I will do my best to summarize and synthesize the responses, but please click through and read the posts in their entirety; they are worth it!

Terry Brock’s excellent discussion of blogging as public archaeology emphasizes the connection between the public and real archaeologists, specifically taking “the public ‘behind the scenes’ in ways that couldn’t be done before, and it combats misinformation and educates people about the importance of our discipline.” John Hawks liked Terry’s answer enough to highlight the “person attached” aspect of blogging and archaeological expertise.

The discussion was expanded to the MSU Campus Archaeology Program’s blog, where five bloggers contributed wide-ranging insights. Kat Meyers takes up blogging as a way of “throwing your ideas into the academic community” where “your work is open to criticism and debate.” Chris Stawski celebrates this openness, and hopes that blogging is not forced down a “more traditional path” with referred posts. Kristin Sewell takes up Terry’s points by calling the internet the best Who Wants to be a Millionaire “‘phone a friend’ lifeline anyone could ask for.” She also makes the point that writing every day is the best way to improve your writing and that presenting your ideas to a critical audience gives the chance for them to be published and reviewed by people who would otherwise not know of your existence. Lynne Goldstein, Director of Campus Archaeology at MSU has found that people are so engaged with social media that “when we complain that it is cold, folks even bring us coffee!” Perhaps the most material gain I’ve seen from blogging so far! Finally, for Grace Krause, “blogging represents a missing link in the academic though process that was rares seen before the rising popularity of digital media.” Another great quote, “blog entries are polaroid pictures of archaeological ideas, instant and unpolished, but nevertheless the perfect way to watch those ideas germinate and develop over time.” I can see that one going into a publication or three.

Over at Dig Girl, Catherine compares blogging to classic mass-market publications in archaeology, books such as Nineveh and Its Remains and Ur of the Chaldees that captured the imaginations of many generations of people. While these books added an undeniable mystique to archaeological fieldwork, they also “provided a window into the excavator’s thoughts and initial interpretations about the ancient sites and civilizations he was uncovering.” She sees the short-form as “a resurgence of this type of publishing, one that simultaneously promotes public outreach and transparency in the archaeological process.”

Michael Smith is skeptical of blogging (sorry, I didn’t come up with the term “blog carnival”–maybe I should have called it a public forum?) and I appreciate his contribution, despite his misgivings! While he finds it “pretty clear that the best use of blogs in archaeology is to communicate information to a range of audiences beyond professional scholars” and “some kinds of professional information (as opposed to scholarly findings) among scholars,” he is more dubious about blogging as a way to advance research in our field. With all the world-changing proclamations that accompany most digital media research, it is good to have a wary and incisive moderating voice in the discussion.

While Michael Smith is a well-published and established archaeologist, Sara Perry is of my “generation” of scholars–finishing up graduate work (in her case, finished! Congrats!) and exploring the world of academic publishing. She reads blogs “for inspiration and as a means to take the pulse of contemporary concerns in archaeology (and beyond)” and views blogging as “a forum to allow new practitioners a voice’ a venue to enable emerging archaeological thinkers to press outside of the traditional, highly-controlled, paper-bound publication format and in-so-doing to rethink the communication and creation of archaeological knowledge.”

John Lowe at Where in the Hell Am I directly addresses blogging in the professional sector, noting that while most of his work is paid for by the public and is in the interest of protecting the nation’s cultural resources, what he does is mostly misunderstood or flies completely beneath the radar. He blogs “so the public can understand what I do, why it’s done, and why it matters.” Public archaeology is generally discouraged in professional archaeology and yet professional archaeologists make up the majority of working archaeologists and their working knowledge of their surroundings is an incredible resource.

Brenna at Passim in Passing is defending her thesis soon–good luck to her!–but took a bit of time to re-state her original founding post, that blogs provide an “informal format” that “means that the tone is conversational, rather than pedantic” and that doesn’t “demand a million-dollar subscription to an academic journal.” She also links to our friend Anies’ video, which is a good look at English professional archaeology:

While she doesn’t state it explicitly, I think that it displays the vitality that multimedia blogging can bring to archaeology. Weaving together words and photos, videos and 3D reconstructions while hyperlinking to sources more explicitly displays the “remix” nature of knowledge production within archaeology.

Finally, Shawn Graham, the ever-excellent Electric Archaeologist makes a particularly relevant point, blogging is exhausting. After nearly a thousand words dedicated to this week’s carnival, I’m inclined to agree! He compares blogging to grinding, that is, playing aspects of a game that are repetitive or boring for access to other features within the game. This is a bit of a grim reality check–for us to be noticed, to drown out ‘bad’ signals with good, you most post constantly. While Shawn is absolutely right in terms of getting page hits, I think that I’ll probably stop blogging when it becomes a grind. It will be an interesting point to discuss at the SAA.

Whew! It will take me some time to digest all of the responses, but I appreciate people taking the time to read and really discuss blogging’s “work” in archaeology.

If I missed you, please send (or re-send) me the link to your post directly. WordPress picks up most ping-backs, but not all of them, especially if they aren’t clicked through. Thanks to everyone who linked or tweeted the carnival, commented on a post, or contributed!

The question for this week is a bit long, sorry!

In our last question, many emphasized the public access that blogging brings to archaeology, the option to “phone a friend,” as Kristin Sewell stated. Blogging gives new scholars a chance to speak out, to debunk 2012 foolishness and to give a little bit back to the public that usually signs our paychecks in one way or another. Though it is generally embraced (says she of the Berkeley bubble!), public outreach can be incredibly difficult, tricky, and prone to hidden downsides. Blogging archaeology is often fraught with tensions that are sometimes not immediately apparent. Beyond the general problems that come with performing as a public intellectual, what risks do archaeologists take when they make themselves available to the public via blogging? What (if any) are the unexpected consequences of blogging? How do you choose what to share?

Blogging Archaeology – The Carnival

I am honored to join several of my fellow archaeology bloggers at the Society for American Archaeology meetings in Sacramento, where we will hear short, 5-10 minute presentations followed by questions and discussion regarding the use of this social medium within our profession. A lot has happened since I proposed this session last Fall, both in the world of anthropological blogging and the wider world of political regime change, highlighting the relevance of social media.

I have invited the session participants to answer a question each week regarding blogging archaeology, but I wanted to widen the conversation to folks who couldn’t make it to Sacramento this year, especially as I’m not sure that we’ll be able to broadcast the session in any way, given that the meetings lack internet access.

So it goes like this:

* Each Sunday evening (Qatar time!) I will post a question. If you would like to answer this question, please feel free to steal the banner above, and link back to this post.

* Please also email me at clmorgan@gmail.com with a link to the post, just in case WordPress doesn’t notify me of your link.

* At the end of the week, I will summarize all of the post and add links so that folks can find them all in one place.

The carnival will run for four weeks. Answer as many or as few of the questions as you like, and feel free to propose questions of your own! The more people we hear from, the better! There are so many great archaeology blogs out there that don’t get enough readership, hopefully this will bring a few of them to light.

So, the question for this week:

The emergence of the short form, or blog entry, is becoming a popular way to transmit a wide range of archaeological knowledge. What is the place of this conversation within academic, professional, and public discourse? Simply put, what can the short form do for archaeology?

Four Stone Hearth 80 – Call for Submissions

Broken Heart, by Phoenix Daily Photo

I’m hosting the next Four Stone Hearth on November 18th, please send your submissions to me:

clmorgan@gmail.com

For this edition, it would be nice to get a lot of photos with captions! I need some inspiration–my camera hasn’t seen much use lately.

Four Stone Hearth 79 was hosted at Anthropology.net.

Four! Stone! Hearth! 60!

Art by Hirotoshi Itoh

Art by Hirotoshi Itoh, photo by Aaron Shumaker

It is my honor to host the 60th edition of Four Stone Hearth. The next edition will be hosted at The Moore Groups Blog, and they’re a pretty hard group to impress, so cowboy up and submit your best!  Let’s get to it!

The Ideophone has a whole heap of gorgeous, thought-provoking photographs submitted to the AAA Photo contest.  Y’know, I meant to submit my own photographs to this contest, but Mark’s photos are amazing and so well described that I’m fairly certain mine would not have made it to the top 20.

Speaking of gorgeous photography, Aardvarchaeology has some chilly images from snowy Wales.  After checking out the photos of the Pillar of Eliseg, the Basingwerk Cistercian abbey, the sculpted ring cross of Maen Achwyfan, and Offa’s Dyke, I wanted a cup of hot chocolate and a nice peaty fire to warm my feet!

A more armchair-ish journey was conducted by the Testimony of the Spade, who uncovered the first Swedish work on archaeology, written in 1675.  Sadly, Bruce Trigger is not around to update his brilliant A History of Archaeological Thought accordingly.  Regardless, I truly love the old illustrations.

The Spittoon discusses two Science articles regarding bacterial genetics and the peopling of the Pacific.  Got Helicobacter pylori?

The vaunted and sometimes daunting Neuroanthropology blog ponders marketing and desire through the lenses of Coke, American Girl, and Google.  Put in your stock buys and hold on tight!

You should probably check out the comments of Babel’s Dawn and read the article in Current Anthropology before getting too worked up about the “Venus of Tan Tan.”

Remote Central visits the South of Spain, where Neanderthals apparently survived a bit longer due to the biodiversity in the region.  I wouldn’t mind a bit of time on the Iberian peninsula right about now.

Zenobia: Empress of the East describes laser scanning of the Hung-e Axhdar rock relief.  I’m a bit of a skeptic regarding laser scanning, but it was put to use in an interesting way here, and I hope that they’re able to use it to answer the questions raised about the relief.  More interesting than the laser scanning was the descriptions of the decorative elements and the connections to depictions of the king of Elymais on various coins.

Some of the archaeologists have gotten together a little game called “Where on Google Earth” wherein you test your skills identifying archaeological sites on Google Earth.  The latest site is on Rolled Up Sleeves.  I haven’t had time to play, but I hope it keeps going!

Finally, Where in the Hell am I? brings us back to the stones and bones of contract archaeology in Texas, where a pipeline survey has uncovered a surprising array of archaeological sites.  I wonder if I’ll be done with my dissertation in time to help dig the Presidio and Caddo sites!

Thank you for visiting Middle Savagery, and I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Four Stone Hearth.

Art by Hirotoshi Itoh, photo by Aaron Shumaker

Art by Hirotoshi Itoh, photo by Aaron Shumaker

Four Stone Hearth – Call for Submissions

four-stone-hearth

I’ll be hosting the next Four Stone Hearth on February 11th, so please send your submissions to colleen@berkeley.edu.  From the website:

The Fourth Stone Hearth is a blog carnival that specializes in anthropology in the widest (American) sense of that word. Here, anthropology is the study of humankind, throughout all times and places, focussing primarily on four lines of research:

  • archaeology
  • socio-cultural anthropology
  • bio-physical anthropology
  • linguistic anthropology

Each one of these subfields is a stone in our hearth.

Thanks!