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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’ve been blogging archaeology for over a decade now; my first blog was during my first field school in 2001, at the Juliette Street Project in Dallas, Texas. I started it because I wanted to keep my friends back in Austin up to date with what I was doing, but I was too lazy to write individual emails. It was public-but-private, more of an experiential blog as I was learning what archaeology was all about. Happily, the blog is long gone, deleted in a moment of self-consciousness when I got into grad school.
Middle Savagery started as a livejournal in 2006, and it is probably telling that it began with this entry:
Reading through the old entries, I miss how casual it was, how much more akin to Tumblr-style blogging, with fragments of words, stolen poems, photos. My blogging has gotten overly formal, possibly as a result of too much academic writing. It started as love letters to all the people that I moved away from or couldn’t be with, and has ended up as grist for the academic grind.
Why am I still blogging? Indeed. I frequently ran out of words while I was writing my thesis, leaving none to spare for the blog. Still, I keep updating Middle Savagery. It’s mine, my own thing, and in the morass of academic publishing, I have a platform I can experiment with. I can be as dopey and full of purple prose as I want to be, or call out misdeeds, or summarize academic articles. Through some trick of luck, people read my stuff.
Over the years I probably should have been more strategic, made a Facebook fan page for the blog, optimized my titles, tagging and search results–10 Mysterious Archaeological Artifacts That Will Change Your Child’s Diet and Your Husband’s Sex Drive! But no. I’ll keep wittering on, and Middle Savagery will change and grow in a slightly stilted, awkward fashion, just as I do.