The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Archaeology Blogging 2

Blog_Nathan_ThomsonI was pleasantly surprised at all the responses to the first question in the Blogging Carnival on Doug’s Archaeology. First, I had no idea there were so many archaeologist bloggers actively adding to their sites. This is really impressive because I strongly feel like blogging is one of the easiest ways to reach the public and exchange information with each other. When I started blogging, I really had no idea there were other archaeology bloggers out there other than Doug Rocks-MacQueen and Chris Webster. Second, I think archaeology has a bad reputation as being unsavvy when it comes to technology and this blogging carnival demonstrates the exact opposite. We are just as linked into technology as other fields, perhaps more so.

In short I was impressed with the first month of the Blogging Carnival. While the first question got me thinking, the question for December really took me off guard.

Keywords: Archaeology, blogging carnival, Doug’s Archaeology

Hashtags: #BlogArch, #SAA2014, #pubarch, @succinctbill

Good, Bad, or Ugly—It’s all part of being a blogger

I’m a huge Clint Eastwood fan. I’ve seen “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” about 50 times and own the DVD. I have even memorized certain passages, such as:

“In this world there are two kinds of people, my friend. Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.” Clint Eastwood, “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” (1966).

I’ve always wanted to use that quote at a site, but don’t own a gun. And, if I did, I wouldn’t use it to motivate my co-workers to dig. Also, in Arizona, sometimes the people that are digging are also the ones with loaded guns, so the quote isn’t exactly accurate here.

Anyway, I’ve spent a few days thinking about this month’s #BlogArch question and have formulated a few responses. I’ve come to the conclusion that the good, bad, and ugly of archaeology blogging is simply an aspect of being a blogger in general. The ups and downs I’ve recognized come along with the territory of being a blogger and putting yourself out there, no matter what niche you’ve chosen.

The Good

The best part about being an archaeology blogger is the opportunity you have to be part of a dialogue that would otherwise go unheard. This was noted by several of the November BlogArch responses. When you write a blog, you can say things in a very conversational tone that is rarely encountered in the academic press we are trained to admire. Bloggers can also reach audiences much quicker than any article or book chapter, so we have the power to be proactive rather than reactive. Articles are great, but, you need to be writing online if you want to really reach a sizable audience.

Constantly being part of a network of like-minded people is an invaluable aspect of blogging. Before blogging, archaeologists only had access to large groups of other archaeos at conferences. The rest of the time, we were working in much smaller groups. As other BlogArch participants have noted, blogging allows today’s archaeologists to tap into robust professional networks in a way that even conferences can’t match. We can connect with other archaeologists that we might never meet in person. Harnessing the inherent interconnectivity of the internet is the true power of blogging.

The Bad

Managing a website or blog can be very time consuming. This is the main downside to being an archeology blogger. You need to stay active in order for your blog to remain relevant. This can take a lot of time. Writing posts, managing a website, and learning how to effectively use online communication technologies all take time and effort. Many archaeologists simply do not want to put their efforts into blogging, but I feel like the benefits greatly outweigh the costs.

There are also other negative aspects to blogging that are more annoyances rather than real downsides. Spam, trolls, building an audience are all things you have to deal with if you’re a blogger. And, the more popular your blog is, the bigger these problems can become which increases the time necessary to nurture your blog.

The Ugly

Blogging provides the ability to respond rapidly and sincerely about topics we are passionate about, but this is probably the ugliest part about it. Sometimes, our responses are too preemptive and leave us open to criticism. I know this from first-hand experience. Things said on blogs can be taken the wrong way. Mistaken comments or blog posts can become magnets for criticism and controversy. Because we are blogging on a topic that is closely related to our careers, mistaken statements made on blogs can follow us for years into the future. The Internet sees all, knows all, and never forgets. I’ve learned that all things said online need to be made with a grain of caution. All we can do is be careful.

January, 2014 marks the first full year I’ve spent as an archaeology blogger. It has been really fruitful and I have made some excellent connections that I plan on cultivating for years to come. Blogging has also been empowering because I’ve had the opportunity to address issues in cultural resource management archaeology that have gone largely unnoticed: specifically, workplace health and safety and the gap between education and vocation. Most importantly, blogging has been a way for me to showcase my thoughts and interests to the rest of the world.

Today, the projects you complete that are made available to the public and other professionals say more about your character and abilities than any article or book. Blogging on allows you to highlight your achievements in a way that isn’t possible in any other medium. I have huge plans for 2014 and blogging will be a central part to my Happy New Year.

If you like what you just read, write a comment below or send me a quick email.

2 thoughts on “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Archaeology Blogging

  • Jonathan Haller

    What is your workflow like for content? My blog posts are so short and I’m really just reviewing a few articles that I read so I tend to just pick them out throughout the week and spend 30 minutes here and there.

    You write much more intensive posts. Do you maintain a list of topics? Do you write on one at a time? Etc.

    • SuccinctBill Post author

      I spend about 30-60 mins every few days looking at other blogs, tweets, LinkedIn etc. I also talk to other people about archaeology and read a lot of articles (5-20 each week) or a book each week. Before grad school, I also used to do CRM for a living. My blog posts come from this research.

      I keep a monthly writing schedule on Dropbox and save spur-of-the-moment ideas on my phone. I write my posts on the weekends and Monday and schedule at least one new post each week. My weekly writing goal is 1000-2000 words divided between posts and Ebooks.

      I also reward myself with scotch and beer whenever I reach my goals.

      You don’t have I be crazy about this like I am. Just make sure you have measurable goals (ex. 400 word post each week) and keep hammering it out. Keep your ideas somewhere where you can add to them anytime. Most important, don’t stop posting.

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