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.
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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