Tag Archives: blogging

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?

New(ish) Neighbors

I’ve added a few new blog links to my long list, several of which are worth further mention.

Dr. Rosemary Joyce has been busy in the blogging world with What Makes Us Human at Psychology Today and The Berkeley Blog at UC Berkeley and her single author blog, Ancient Bodies, Ancient Lives. I’m ashamed that while I knew about her contributions to The Berkeley Blog, I’ve missed the other two entirely. Ancient Bodies, Ancient Lives is my favorite, with great articles about her teaching and sex and gender in the archaeological record. Rosemary also excels at what I am particularly lax at–answering comments. I can’t believe the patience she had in this particular comment thread about global warming and the archaeological record.

There’s the Diary of an Archaeological Intern, a blog written by Meghan Ferris, an Archaeological Intern with the Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat, Government of Prince Edward Island. She has a nice selection of photos and videos from archaeology on Prince Edward Island. I think some of the best outreach blogging is done by people who are starting in their profession, as they have the ability to still look at the field through the eyes of an outsider, giving more explanation than their more seasoned colleagues.

Passim in Passing is a very new blog from Brenna, a PhD student in the UK. She took up some of my discussion about wikileaks from a few days ago, posing additional, interesting questions. We’ll see how she gets on!

Finally, there is The Baking Archaeologist, who has more baking content than archaeology content right now. It’s an anonymous blog, which I’m never very excited about, but the cookie recipes look delicious and as a fellow baking archaeologist (I contend that I am unmatchable in pie-making) I have to offer solidarity.

As always, the best way to tell me (and the world) about your blog is to link to other blogs. Support your archaeo-blogging community!

Blogging Archaeology 2011 – The Abstracts!

As you may have noticed, I’ve organized a session called Blogging Archaeology for the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology 2011 in Sacramento.  The session has been finalized, with the following participants joining in the discussion:

Discussant – Kris Hirst of Archaeology@About.com fame.

Michael E. Smith
Can Archaeological Blogs be used for Serious Scholarship?

Most archaeological blogs are aimed at the dissemination of information to a non-professionalaudience, with a few blogs focused on communication of professional information amongarchaeologists. I explore the possibilities for expanding blogging beyond a teaching-service-entertainment orientation into a more serious intellectual realm. Why are there no archaeologicalblogs for serious intellectual conversation (like the anthropology blog, “Savage Minds”). Mightarchaeological blogs be used for the production of intellectual content through collaborationamong professionals? I discuss some of the roadblocks and potential benefits to expandingarchaeological blogging in the direction of intellectual and scientific production.

John Lowe
Blogging archaeology in CRM

In the practice of archaeology, engaging with the public is an important element. By doing so, archaeologists can help to explain the value of protecting cultural resources and the important data “in the ground.” However, this interaction can also benefit the work of the archaeologist, in understanding the perspective of other stakeholders, as well as revealing sources and data not readily apparent otherwise.
Blogging, although in many ways more of a soliloquy than a dialogue, is one way that archaeologists can and do reach out to the public. By sharing data, pictures, and stories, the everyday work of an archaeologist is exposed to any who are interested. The information is more personalized, and the exchange more dynamic, than a static presentation of results.

For American cultural resource management (CRM) professionals, blogging presents a challenge. The projects are often small and unexciting, and negative results are the norm. State and federal laws are a consideration when discussing site finds. Clients may have non-disclosure contracts associated with a project, or monitor the Internet for any references to project details and negative comments. Often, there’s a sense that you’re trying to reach out to a public that just isn’t there, or isn’t responding. The work is unpaid, and finding the energy to write after a long, hot field day can be a challenge.
However, blogging should become a more important part of the practice of CRM. Publicly funded projects in particular often require a public outreach component; blogging is a way of doing this real-time, and being more inclusive of the participants.

Nicolas Laracuente
Public Archaeology 2.0: Facilitating Engagement with Twitter

Public archaeology increases public awareness of archaeological issues
and their practical applications to modern social concerns. Classroom
visits, hands-on activities, site tours, and other events give
archaeologists the opportunity to engage public audiences and transfer
knowledge through face-to-face interaction. However, engagement ends
at the conclusion of the event leaving the audience with an incomplete
understanding of the subject. Twitter, a social media application,
transcends these spatial and temporal limitations by allowing
sustained multi-directional communication between archaeologists,
their audience, and others who never attended the original event. This
form of engagement facilitates learning and can be applied across
disciplines.

Johan Normark
Dealing with the public view of the Maya

The public view of the Maya is often affected by stereotypes, exoticism,
and ethnocentrism. Nowhere is this clearer than in the 2012-phenomenon.
While blogging about various parts of this phenomenon I have encountered
everything from threats, dismissals on the grounds that I am biased because
I am part of the academia but also positive feedback on the attempt to
uncover frauds. Although my blog primarily is dedicated to Mayanist studies
and archaeological theory, the 2012 part of the blog is most popular. How
does that affect my choice of topics? Am I also feeding on the phenomenon
that I criticize?

Sarah Nohe

Digital social media has emerged as one of the most powerful and revolutionary forms of media consumption, interaction, and information distribution.  Unlike traditional forms of media, blogging and social networking allow information to travel from the source, reaching wide audiences directly, and providing opportunities for feedback, criticism, and interaction. Two programs, the Michigan State University’s Campus Archaeology Program and the Florida Public Archaeology Network, have successfully employed digital social media to engage the public in archaeological heritage.   This paper illustrates the effectiveness of digital social media as a means to facilitate public archaeology.

Terry Brock
Teaching Archaeology and Community Engagement through Blogging: A Public Archaeology Field School Project at Michigan State University

Blogging has had an impact on both public engagement and college teaching. This paper will use a field school blogging project conducted by the MSU Campus Archaeology Program to discuss the importance of digital community engagement, the use of blogging as a means to share with the public not only what archaeologists find, but also to educate the public about how archaeology is done and how conclusions are drawn. Additionally, it will discuss how blogging in this manner can better teach students about archaeological methods, while introducing them to public archaeology and digital media.

Shawn Graham

Signal versus Noise; or, why blogging matters”   The single greatest reason for
blogging, for creating a professional on-line  profile and for creating a
sustained presence for our research can be summed up  in one word: Google.
Academic blogs are content-rich, and tend to focus on very  specific areas.
Academic bloggers create an enormous signal in the chaos of the  internet.
Google controls how we find information; but often, academic blogging  tells
Google what’s important. Thus, academic blogging can set the larger  research
agenda.

Meta-Bloggery – Masthead, Collections, Best-of

I’ve made a couple of changes around the blog, the first being the new masthead. I was a little iffy on it, and the DD’s have been the subject of some critique, but ultimately I’m happy with it. And it’s all open source/creative commons fonts! Everything except the “V” is Blackout from the League of Moveable Type. The “V” is from the Skullphabet type set from the Skull a Day Project. I had to fix the kerning a bit, but it wasn’t a big deal in Illustrator.

I created two new pages:

Collections - I have been amassing some kinds of archaeological photos and ephemera in a somewhat lackadaisical fashion with the help of some of my friends. I thought I’d be a bit more organized about it and share the collections as I have time. They’re a little miscellaneous, but what do you want?

Greatest Hits – I have a “Top Posts” widget, but it’s a little bit random and changeable. I picked some posts that have proved to be popular by getting linked a lot, and some that I felt were examples that best showed what the blog was all about. I should get together a sub-genres collection of my series of “Poetry and Prose that remind me of Archaeology” and my photo comics, but that will be another Sunday’s work.

What do you think? Any suggestions?

Last Call for Participation at the Blogging Archaeology Session!

Reposted from the original call here:

Blogging Archaeology

A vital, diverse community of archaeologists are experimenting with online weblogs or “blogs” for publishing research data, reaching out to their colleagues and the public, and as a venue for personal expression.  Once considered a relatively rare and nonstandard practice, blogging is becoming a part of archaeological practice during excavations, in classroom settings, and by professional organizations as a venue for outreach.  Even as the number of personal and professional archaeology blogs increases, their use has remained largely unscrutinized and unrewarded within the profession.  Even so, blogging has become an incredible source of archaeological news and data that bypasses traditional media sources, giving unprecedented public access to working archaeologists.  However, this access is not without repercussions as issues of anonymity, personal expression and privacy become increasingly relevant.  Another issue is the publication of information that may adversely affect the archaeological record through the identification of sensitive and potentially sacred sites.  In this session we will explore these questions and the complexities of archaeological blogging with perspectives from students, professors, professional archaeologists and full-time archaeology bloggers.

Email me at clmorgan@berkeley.edu before midnight (PST) 8 September 2010 if you would like to participate. The session is at the SAA in Sacramento, California in April 20011.

Blogging Archaeology – Update!

This week has been big for me in the blogging world! First, I am chuffed to make Archaeology Magazine’s list of Top 5 Archaeology Bloggers:

http://archaeology.org/blog/?p=965

Welcome to everyone who has followed their link to this blog–I’m currently working at Tall Dhiban in Jordan and hope to have more updates about the archaeology in the very near future.

Also, the much esteemed Kris Hirst of Archaeology at About.com has agreed to be the discussant for the Blogging Archaeology session at the Society for American Archaeology in 2011. There’s more information on the session here:

https://middlesavagery.wordpress.com/2010/05/07/blogging-archaeology-saa-2011-draft/

I should have an updated abstract soon.

Meta: Blog Linking

In a fit of structured procrastination, I decided to go through my blog links today and add a few blogs links that have been emailed to me or that I’ve noticed and delete a few of the blogs that haven’t been updated for a while. There’s been a huge increase in archaeology blogs lately and I don’t pretend to have a list of all of them (I tend to prefer blogs that talk about personal research interests and methodology) but if I’ve missed any good links, please let me know about them.

Some new(ish) links:

I’m quite enjoying Archaeopix and their reblogging of archaeology photos available under a creative commons license. I’m lazy about adding my flickr photos to groups, so they give me motivation to be a better flickr user.

Archaeopop is another new kid on the block, and is the work of a few grad students from the University of Michigan. Fun to read for interesting takes on archaeology news.

I remember finding it a while ago, but for some reason I didn’t link Punk Archaeology. It’s a topic close to my heart (and will be posting an abstract that I sent off in a bit that is related), but more for investigating the DIY ethos in relation to my own work than investigating specific archaeology/punk band linkage.

Another blog that has been around for a while, The Archaeology of the Mediterranean World, is one that I’ve read but never linked to out of sheer negligence. Fixed!

I’ll be watching Sexyarchaeology with interest, though a “sexiest field crew” competition makes me a bit uncomfortable. I’ve been working in relatively conservative communities for too long, it seems.

In a sad note, I’ll be removing the following blogs in the next week or two:

Archaeozoology, after a year of no updates. I was never quite sure who was running Archaeozoology, but I quite liked their posts on Cat Domestication and Islamic Pig Prohibition.

Archeduct, what happened with the Loretten dig?

Nomadic Thoughts, with a rather cryptic last entry.

Online archaeology, now offline.

I really miss Random Transect, for their geographic proximity and interest in labor and class issues in archaeology.

As for my own online presence, I’m up to 12 regular blogs that are updated (with more or considerably less frequency) and three tumblr blogs, which is perhaps a bit much. Most of them are project related though, so they don’t get updated when I’m not currently working on that particular project.

One of the tumblr blogs is actually for a class that Ruth and I are teaching this semester and it serves pretty brilliantly so far for that purpose–we’re teaching archaeology and the media again, with the film emphasis, so when films are mentioned in class or in assignments, we can link to clips without too much trouble. I’ve never had much luck with class blogs, but tumblr is a low-investment linking tool that compliments the content of the class nicely. It’s somewhat opaque to outside viewers, but that’s okay. If it’s a huge success, I’ll blog about it at the end of the semester.