My good friend and colleague Colleen Morgan has organised an excellent session on archaeological blogging at the upcoming Society for American Archaeology conference in Sacramento, California (30 March – 3 April). Given that the conference (somewhat distressingly, I think) doesn’t have internet access to allow live feeds into and out of the event, Colleen is asking other archaeological bloggers to speak to some of the dimensions of blogs and the blogging process. Whilst I don’t typically use my own WordPress site for the same breadth of rigorous commentary as others (like Colleen!), I have thought a bit about the affordances of this medium, and have also encouraged students to do so in my teaching.
Colleen’s question for this week:
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?
Although I’m situated within the academic sector, I do not see a fundamental and inviolable division between academic, professional and public discourse. My PhD research has focused on the fluid relationship between specialist and non-specialist realms of practice—as the priorities of each feed back into the other—and I believe that blogging, like lecturing or public exhibitions, is yet another facilitator of this relationship.
Personally, I read other blogs for inspiration and as a means to take the pulse of contemporary concerns in archaeology (and beyond). They can provide good, quick access to emerging (not to mention long-standing) resources, and introduce you to ideas and linkages between people and things that push beyond traditional disciplinary divides. They are a marketing tool, a knowledge-making device, a means of connecting emotionally and politically with others, and a seedbed for action and response. They can mobilise people and ideas, and I think their power is testified to by the fact that everyone from the individual to the world-renowned institution (e.g., the Smithsonian: http://blog.photography.si.edu/) has invested in their possibilities.
Most importantly, I think they are a forum to allow new practitioners a voice; a venue to enable emerging archaeological thinkers to press outside of the traditional, highly-controlled, paper-bound publication format, and in-so-doing to rethink the communication and creation of archaeological knowledge.
I love that Colleen has put together this session at the SAAs, and am looking forward to hearing about its outcomes—most likely, I think, via following its blog coverage!