6 Reasons I Quit Social Media (and why I’m sort-of back on it)

A couple of months ago I had enough. Social media was driving me crazy. I have long term personal accounts that I’ve maintained for ages, archaeology project accounts, and now as my admin job for my current job I manage the Departmental social media. I probably owe a lot to social media for visibility of my research profile, but I was sick of it and needed a break. Some issues had come up in the Departmental social media and I found it overwhelming to manage these in addition to the heaps of teaching, research, and other administrative tasks that are part of my job. So I killed off my Twitter and Facebook profiles for the following reasons:

  • Social media was giving me a lot of anxiety and it made me really angry. And that’s what it’s designed to do.
  • It encourages passivity–it’s enough to rail against this or that, feel better, then cease any kind of drive to change at just that. So I posted an angry tweet. So what?
  • It took up too much brain space. I found myself thinking in 280-character fragments. I was annoyed at what people said and annoyed at having to talk myself down from responding. I became increasingly mute on social media, though I thought a lot about it. I missed blogging, I missed reading, I missed creativity and quiet.
  • I was tired of performing–performing research, performing teaching, performing activism. What’s more is I was tired of other people doing this.
  • Outrage theatre is richly rewarded. Want to get lots of likes? Be angry about something, post something snarky, perform your virtue. I found it exhausting. Combined with the point above, it led to the point below.
  • It made me dislike people I mostly agree with. They were too whiny or attention-seeking or posted about their pet too much. Honestly, if any of these things bothered me, it wasn’t their problem, it was me needing to get offline. So I did. We need to build allies, not engage in call-outs.

It was mostly Twitter that was the problem, I hadn’t done much with Facebook for a long time. And quitting…was amazing. Freeing. It took a couple of weeks to stop automatically punching in the urls. I enjoyed sitting in incredible lectures and not sharing them. I enjoyed not feeling like I had to converse with or impress anyone. I shut down and it was really incredible. During the CAA in Krakow I felt like I had earmuffs on, totally oblivious to backchat. Marvelous.

But I’m back, in a limited fashion. I’ve kept Facebook dead (though I realized the other day I need to check in on a few groups I maintain, uh-oh) but I re-activated Twitter. It’s annoying actually, you have to re-activate monthly anyway so you don’t lose your account. I might have just let it go, but I realized that there’s pretty much no other way to link to your blog, update people with publications, that sort of tedious stuff. But after my break, I feel like I’ve broken the back of it. I login when I have something to post, then logout again. I don’t check it, except for the Departmental accounts.

It makes me wonder, though, how I’ll teach social media for outreach. I’m already been a bit wary, wondering Is it ethical to use social media for teaching archaeology? Is bad practice in social media good practice in self-preservation?

When I worked in the Computer Science department at the University of Texas I was always surprised that Edsger Dijkstra didn’t have a computer in his office. In fact, he didn’t have one at all. One of the fathers of Computer Science, didn’t have a computer. He didn’t want actual computer to limit his imagination about what a computer might be able to do. Would that I had the brain of Dijkstra, but something is damned compelling about that.

 

Truth & Beauty Bombs: The personal/political/poetics of online communication in #archaeology

I was very happy to keynote last week’s first ever Twitter archaeology conference, Public Archaeology Twitter Conference, hosted by Dr. Lorna Richardson. I chose to speak on how to find meaning in online discourse in an increasingly noisy world. I collected the tweets on Storify:

And here’s a PDF:

https://www.academia.edu/32770184/Truth_and_Beauty_Bombs_The_personal_political_poetics_of_online_communication_in_archaeology

 

 

Why on Earth Would You Read an Archaeology Blog?

s200_fleur.schinning

Fleur Schinning (pictured above) is a masters student at Leiden University who is studying archaeology blogs and impact. She has asked several archaeology bloggers to host her questionnaire so she can gain insight in how blogs and social media can improve the accessibility of archaeology.

Has Middle Savagery made a small, crater-like impact into your cranium? Or are archaeology blogs for the birds?

G’on, take a few minutes to fill it out. You even have a chance to win six issues of Archaeology Magazine:

http://goo.gl/forms/z3BAUTyYUL

 

#CritBlogArch Virtual Roundtables

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I’m very pleased with the new dedicated issue of Internet Archaeology, Critical Blogging in Archaeology, first conceived at the 2011 Society for American Archaeology sessions in Sacramento. That it has taken so long to publish is entirely on me–working in Qatar and finishing my thesis left me spread a bit thin.

Happily, my postdoc here in the Archaeology Department at the University of York put me in the perfect position to publish the issue in Internet Archaeology, the Open Access journal embedded in the department, edited by the fantastic Judith Winters. Judith put a tremendous amount of effort into producing this issue, and I am deeply grateful for her willingness to be a bit experimental.

We decided to use Open Peer Review, which means that the authors and the reviewers are identified. I’ve found this works really well on Then Dig–peer review becomes less adversarial and more cooperative. Combined with the small group of people doing research on this topic and the complete inability to make these article double-blind, it seemed like a good choice. You can read more about the process in my editorial for the issue.

The other features that we decided to include is the ability to directly comment on the articles and to archive the uses of the #CritBlogArch hashtag on Twitter, to preserve the feedback and conversation surrounding the issue. So far the uptake has been mixed and without clear direction so we decided to create a series of round tables, identifying dates and times to discuss particular articles. The articles are all Open Access, so there should not be any barriers to discussion.

Join us on the following dates and times to discuss these articles on Twitter with the #CritBlogArch hashtag, or leave comments on the articles themselves.

June 16 (16:00 BST)
Mapping the Structure of the Archaeological Web – Shawn Graham
From Blogs to Books: Blogging as Community, Practice and Platform – William Caraher and Andrew Reinhard
Micro-blogging and Online Community – Lorna-Jane Richardson

June 23 (16:00 BST)
Crime, Controversy and the Comments Section: Discussing archaeological looting, trafficking, and the illicit antiquities trade online – Meg Lambert and Donna Yates
Blogging the Field School: Teaching Digital Public Archaeology – Terry P. Brock and Lynne Goldstein
Changing the Way Archaeologists Work: blogging and the development of expertise – Sara Perry

June 30 (16:00 BST)
Online Resistance to Precarious Archaeological Labour – Sam Hardy
Bones, Bodies, and Blogs: Outreach and Engagement in Bioarchaeology – Katy Meyers Emery and Kristina Killgrove
Vlog to Death: Project Eliseg’s Video-Blogging – Joseph Tong, Suzanne Evans, Howard Williams, Nancy Edwards and Gary Robinson

We also encourage responses to Fotis Ifantidis’ photo essay (peer reviewed with other photo essays from Steve Ashby and Jesse Stephen) on Instagram, or Flickr–please drop a comment with a link on Ifantidis’ essay.

Faces of Archaeology Published in Archaeologies

 

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The Faces of Archaeology portrait project that Jesse Stephen and I did at WAC-7 has been published by Archaeologies! It was a fantastic chance to collaborate with a gifted photographer and I’m very pleased with the project, the exhibitions at TAG Chicago and Turkey TAG and the final publication.

From our conclusions:

Ultimately, the Faces of Archaeology project reveals the complexity of representation in archaeology and world heritage practice. While making individual participation in WAC-7 visible through capturing and disseminating portraits of attendees, the authors contended with gender, economic, ethnic, social, political, and ethical considerations that were made explicit through this process of visualization. The authors included their own portraits in the assemblage, with the intention of both de-centering photographic practice and increasing reflexivity by showing authorship and participation (Morgan and Eve 2012). Finally, it is our hope that we can repeat this project at conferences in the future, and the collective face of archaeology and heritage will become even more diverse, complex, and beautiful.

The “online first” version can be downloaded by people who have paid access here:
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11759-014-9255-6

There is also a pre-print available here:
Faces of Archaeology at Academia.edu

 

New Article Published! The Archaeology of Digital Abandonment

Matt Law and I have published our co-authored article in Present Pasts, The Archaeology of Digital Abandonment: Online Sustainability and Archaeological Sites. Matt had a very nice small data set on the closure of Geocities and how it affected archaeological websites. I keep citing it in my presentations, so I’m very happy to see it published formally. My deep thanks to Matt and the fantastic team at Present Pasts!

Here is the abstract:

After 15 years of hosting millions of user-built webpages, in April 2009 Yahoo! announced that they would be shutting down their United States Geocities webpages. Geocities was once the most common hosting service for low-cost personal webpages, including hundreds of public outreach sites about archaeology. Were the webpages moved to another hosting site, archived, or just abandoned? We tracked and recorded the fate of 88 of these webpages, eventually sending a survey to the webmasters asking them a range of questions. While we received relatively few responses, the answers to the questions were illuminating. Much of the current digital outreach performed all over the world relies on ‘free’ services such as Twitter, Flickr, WordPress, Google Pages, or Facebook to host their content. What can the fate of archaeological content on Geocities pages tell us about the benefits and risks of using commercial infrastructure for archaeological outreach? We propose that sorting through the digital wreckage of past outreach efforts helps us to evaluate the eventual fate of the archaeological presence online.

 

Podcasts of Note

Visualising Radio Pop - Tristan Ferne
Visualising Radio Pop – Tristan Ferne

As my bitter rivals in the Archaeologists’ fitbit group (join us!) can attest, I usually walk a few miles a day. While I listen to a lot of music while I write, I let podcasts transport me across the landscape. They’re my television, I suppose. Back in 2010 I recommended a couple of Archaeology Podcasts, and the field has grown considerably since then, but I draw interest and inspiration from other topics.

So, my favorites:

New Yorker: Fiction – These are authors who have published in the New Yorker discussing the short stories of other authors. There is a long prelude and sometimes a long discussion afterwards that talk about the author’s life and the meaning of the story. These can sometimes grate, sadly. Still, I love reading the short stories in the New Yorker and the podcasts are a welcome jolt of incredibly good writing. They’re only uploaded once a month though, so I try to save it for a time when I can listen to it straight through on longer walks & bus rides.

AnthroPod – A newish podcast from the Society for Cultural Anthropologists with very pithy, involved conversations between anthropologists about their research. Particular favorite was John Hartigan on Race, Genomics, and Biology and Michael Fisch on Tokyo Commuter Train Suicides.

Thinking Allowed – A slightly quirky sociology podcast with Laurie Taylor that explores current research articles, generally bringing in the authors of the publications. Can be overly folksy and pseudo-populist, but I like the update about what is going on in one of our sister-disciplines.

This American Life – Yes, I am a member of the cult-like following of this show. For non-Americans, it has a lot of stories that are not necessarily American-specific. If I could only listen to one podcast, this would be it. Good thing there are over 500 episodes.

Radiolab – A broadly-conceived science podcast that follows interesting stories with odd resonance. They also do a lot of overtly reflexive audio editing, which you don’t see very often–compare with Jai Paul’s str8 outta mumbai. They broadcast a mix of in-depth hour-long podcasts with 20-30 minute “shorts” that can be less formal.

Fun stuff:

Escape Pod – Speculative fiction short stories of all stripes–so much so that sometimes they get complaints that the story isn’t actually Science Fiction. One example is The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu, a lovely story steeped in Chinese culture about origami that comes to life. I’m often jealous of the stories, able to describe human interaction and possible realities better than any archaeologist or anthropologist I’ve ever read.

PodCastle – A companion podcast to Escape Pod that I only recently started listening to. The quality, to my ears, is a little bit mixed, but I enjoyed The Calendar of Saints, which is an incense-laden homage to Catholicism and a lady with a sword.

Friday Night Comedy – Dan and I like listening to this political comedy show while we’re cooking dinner. It is, in my opinion, a pale shadow of The Daily Show, but keeps me relatively up-to-date with British politics. May be slightly indecipherable if you don’t live in the UK.

Honorable mentions:

These are podcasts that I’ve downloaded with the intention of listening to them, but haven’t quite gotten to them, or have only listened to a couple of episodes: Welcome to Night Vale, On the Media, Material World, The Heritage Podcast, and From Our Own Correspondent.