Okay, so this is perhaps a tad late as were most of my entries for Doug’s fantastic Blogging Archaeology series. Just a quick re-cap for anyone that missed it: over a period of 5 months, from November 2013 to March 2014, Doug openly asked members of the archaeology blogging world to take part in an online blogging conference where each month he would set a question and hope that arch bloggers would answer the world over.
Doug (who blogs at Doug’s Archaeology where he profiles the archaeology profession) was influenced and moved to start the blogging carnival back in November 2013 because the Society for American Archaeologists were, in April 2014 in Austin, Texas, having their annual conference which included a session on blogging archaeology (view the full preliminary program here). As he himself could not make the conference (and neither could many other archaeology bloggers), Doug decided to open the floor and host a monthly blogging carnival on his site where he posted a specific question each month for bloggers to answer on their own respective sites. Doug helped build up a fantastic collection of results and links each month detailing the wide variety of thoughts, experiences and wishes of the archaeology blogging world.
Although the carnival has been over for some months now I have been meaning to collect together my own series of entries for the carnival. This is mostly for my own benefit as I am very interested to see how I feel about each question Doug posited in a year’s time or so, compared to what I felt at the time that I wrote the entry. It is in essence, I’m afraid, some blog navel gazing! But it is also a way in which to track the changes that I have made to the blog, both in content and approach, and also helps me remember what numbers of views and hits the blog achieved at a certain point.
A Personal Curation
So below are the links to the five blog entries that made up my own personal entry to the carnival:
This was a two-part question consisting of ‘why did you start blogging’ and ‘why do you continue to blog (or not, as some have stopped)’. This post details the origins of this blog, of wanting to start it to improve my own knowledge and skills, and wanting to discuss and open up communication about my own bone disease. The second part of the post dealt with how the blog has expanded (with interviews, guest posts, skeletal series) and why this expansion has taken place.
This, a three-part post, details the good, bad and ugly aspects of blogging archaeology in all of its glory. The good side is the ability to open myself up, talk about my passion and also discuss my own bone disease. Through this I have met many wonderful people. The bad is the lack of access to the journals whereas the bad isn’t so much bad as highlighting other blogs that do a fantastic job of highlighting the darker aspects of archaeology. This is in both the commercial and academic sense, and the personal sense (i.e. unpaid internships, poor job conditions, lack of recognition in sector and government, poor pay etc that can pervade through the industry).
The January edition of the blogging carnival was interesting for people’s interpretations of what good best and worst could mean. In my entry I discussed the blog statistics, including overall page views, comments, and number of followers. I discussed the relevant merit of each basic statistical detail, but highlighted some shortcomings of each and of the WordPress format in general (although I do only use the basic free edition of the site). I also mentioned a basic trend that appeared in the statistics over the months and weeks, which correlated with what other bloggers of archaeology reported, that namely views tend to fall in the summer (our target audience is too busy excavating probably!) and perk in the winter season. As a part of the entry I also looked at the most popular and least popular posts, although there were no surprises there as the skeletal series are the most viewed posts. This is largely due to their collective attractiveness to a broad range of disciplines such as medicine, anatomy and forensics, and not just the archaeology sector.
The February edition of the carnival was actually an open-ended question poised by Doug. Unfortunately it led to the lowest turn out, however I ventured a topic and asked what this blog means to me. In it I discussed the digital aspect of the blog, how information can change, transform and be curated. I also highlighted the fact that I see the blog as a part of my personal academic world, a place where I try to understand what is happening in my field (bad archaeology joke there!) and why. I also briefly discussed the social aspect of blogging through understanding the impact of blogging human osteology and bioarchaeology as discussed in a recent academic journal article, and how this view was rebutted and challenged by those very blogs it discussed.
In the final entry of the blogging carnival Doug asked the bloggers what their future hopes were, how they thought their blogging may change or change them. In my response I further detailed my view on blogs as a space between the commercial, academic and voluntary worlds of archaeology, where they (the blogs) often rest on the shoulder of just one person and are often a reflection of that aspect; that they are an expression of interest in the chosen topic and a personal journal at the same time. I also discussed the idea that blogging validates our interest in our chosen subject, and that this is reflected by the recognition and reference of our sites as markers of interest or worth in the academic world (via article references) and/or by the public interest expressed. Further to this I highlighted the nature of the blog itself, both the presentation and the form, and how these can be changed and manipulated as the blogger sees fit. Ultimately, as Spencer noted in the comments, archaeology blogging bridges a gap, that we can provide, and that it is inclusive.
The utterly fantastic outcome of the blogging carnival was the publication of the Blogging Archaeology (2014) book, edited by Doug Rocks-Macqueen and Chris Webster, in which beforehand the editors openly called for articles from the blogging community online. There are not many opportunities in the archaeological world where you can mix a full panoply of personal and professional perspectives as much as this publication has produced, from the worlds of commercial archaeology, academia, and the voluntary sector. It is an amazing 293 page volume which manages to fit in the breadth and beauty of blogging archaeology online discussing, as it does, a variety of topics in archaeology, heritage and digital media. This includes topics such as (but is certainly not limited to): understanding mortuary archaeology and blogging, understanding the commercial sector and social media use, teaching public engagement in anthropology, understanding the perceptions of archaeology and the language used when discussing the subject, to a range of personal reflections on blogging archaeology. The publication is available for free to read and download here.
As I stated in my last entry for the series back in April, I sincerely hope that the archaeology carnival becomes an annually recurring feature of blogging archaeology online. There are certainly many potential subjects left to be covered by such a venture and the carnival truly brings an inclusive aspect to the archaeology blogging world and archaeology in general. It also helps to highlight the sheer amount and wealth of archaeology and heritage themed blogs that I, personally, had not previously known about.
It has also shown that you shouldn’t be afraid about jumping into this world yourself, no matter what your background, interest or experience. It really is open to anyone who wants to write or talk about archaeology, where the number of platforms and ways to engage the audience is limited only by your own imagination. Overall the blogging carnival was a fantastic opportunity to reflect on what blogging meant to me, where it has taken me so far and where I hope it will take me in the future. So to Doug I say a big thank you for putting this together and for producing the publication.