Friday, April 01, 2011

first not blogging about blogging archaeology


@alun may not quite have kept up, and @brennawalks may have skipped week 3; but I've missed the whole event.

Ahead of a session on Blogging Archaeology at the 2011 Society for American Archaeology Meeting, Middle Savagery ran a four-week blog carnival.

Like Brenna, I fear 'being so meta- that I entirely cease to exist'; but anyway... I thought I'd give a nod to the carnival, and take the prompt to answer the questions.

The first question was:
The emergence of the short form, or blog entry, is becoming a popular way to transmit a wide range of archaeological knowledge. What is the place of this conversation within academic, professional, and public discourse? Simply put, what can the short form do for archaeology?
Style

I agree with Brenna's "meta" post; though my blog tends to concentrate on stuff I could - and should (also) - share in another (more academic) format. (fn1) I also agree with Dig Girl.

Unfortunately (a word I fear would be very large in any word cloud of this blog), because of the stuff I write about and the people who read it, I cannot normally write in a conversational style.

That does frustrate me, because no-one benefits from this (particular) restriction on my writing. I object to having to think and write defensively, but accept that some of it serves a purpose, and some of it comes with the territory.

Yet some of the minutiae-spotted, digression-riddled blogging is unreadable for professionals, let alone for the public (and I want to blog primarily to interact with the affected communities).

Even saying that someone 'must have meant' one thing rather than another (when one thing would have been a relevant truth and the other a nonsensical typo) has earned me the attention of nationalists eager to discredit me and my work.

Content

My work is not very archaeological, so I'm not sure I'm best placed to say what blogging can do for "proper" archaeology.

Still, perhaps most importantly of all, I have been corrected - in a way that I can acknowledge and discuss in public - before false information entered any "permanent" record. (I do hope this post doesn't end up peppered with speech marks.)

I have also been given information by professionals and members of the public (including long-lost relatives who have bumped into each other in the comments).

I have even built working relationships with nationalists who had disagreed with my work and tried to disrupt others doing similar work (or work in similar ways), but who nonetheless recognised that I was committed to truth and justice, and trusted me with sensitive information.

Notably, all of those things have depended upon public access to "unpublished" material (material not published in a scholarly manner).

fn1: I do have one eternally forthcoming publication (out of my hands), another I will soon be ready to submit for publication, and odds and ends I will soon be trying to stitch together to create the vague impression of an article. Apart from those, my thesis will eventually be dumped online.

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