As a prelude to the Society for American Archaeology panel on blogging at their annual meeting in April, a blogging archaeology carnival is being operated from Doug’s Archaeology. Every month, participants are asked to write on a particular theme, using the Twitter hashtag #blogarch. For December, Doug has asked us to write on the ‘Good, Bad, and Ugly’ of blogging.
My experiences with blogging have been mostly good. My posts tend to be of three types – either the presentation or relating of information (such as re-blogs of the 3D Mediterranean archaeology series managed by Bill Caraher), updates on research initiatives, or the posting of soapbox-type comments. When I first started blogging, it was with the intent of being a conduit of information about archaeology and informatics. Mostly, I saw the need not for adding additional content as much as collating and disseminating the good works of others. Over time, I’ve found that the most satisfying (and hopefully more productive) is the rant. Within these posts, I afford myself the luxury of thinking about where I think the field of archaeology is going, how it’s affecting the world around us, or other such themes. The blogging is an effective tool for me personally to organize my thoughts, to put them into a communicative medium, and then move those ideas into actionable items – whether it be a presentation, article, piece of curriculum, or new collaboration. It is my hope that the ideas expressed are helpful to those who catch wind of them.
As is appearing a common theme, lack of response or comment is disheartening. However, I see this more as a misapplied expectation. This is not a social media event, where posts are ‘liked’ or commented upon frequently. I do hope for comment, to start a discussion, debate – all out war on a topic if possible. However, I realize that this is not going to happen, in all likelihood. Rather, blogs seem to be more of place for information, comment, and opinion. They seem, in my experience, to be a place where ideas are expressed, but not necessarily directly commented upon. If I’m looking for that type of exchange online, it appears that I get more of that from social media.
Another ‘bad’ would be the time it sometimes takes from other more ‘important’ writing – that of articles, chapters, and books that are still the mainstay of academic measures of ‘productivity.’ Contributions to the discipline do not include Tweets or blogposts – nor should they, necessarily. Rather, I would hope that the process of blogging – the process of sharing ideas and information – would lead to additional, more substantial contributions.
Overall, I have no ‘ugly’ experiences to report. Much of what I’ve experienced to date has be ‘good.’ The ‘bad’ that I’ve experienced stems more from misappropriated expectations and a personal (outdated, possibly?) sense of productivity. In sum, the process of blogging has brought me into more regular contact with those that I’d see possibly by happenstance on an annual basis. It’s provided a venue for sharing ideas, promoting successes and triumphs, and consolidating thoughts.