This year, the Archaeological Institute of America’s National Archaeology Day has become International Archaeology. The event will occur this coming Saturday, October 19th. This year’s 200 collaborating organizations are hosting an impressive array of activities ranging from special exhibitions and presentations at the Angkor Archaeological Park in Cambodia to Family Day Activities at the Bosque Museum in Clifton Texas. At the C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa we made an intentional decision this year to focus on what we do best for International Archaeology Day - our basic programming and activities. If you are in the Memphis area, stop by on the 19th.
International Archaeology Day is also an opportunity to reflect on the state of the discipline in 2013. Today, archaeologists often face an uphill battle to convince elected officials in the United States of the discipline’s worth. Popular media such as Antiques Roadshow, American Digger, and American Pickers continue to focus on commodification of cultural heritage – how old is it? is it real? and how much is it worth? In typical “What is Archaeology” classroom presentations, presenters often need to clarify that archaeologists do not dig up dinosaurs nor are the missions of Indiana Jones and Laura Croft typical job descriptions in our profession. And, as I posted recently about the Louisiana Division of Archaeology, we see effective programs on the chopping block for public funding.
Are we winning or losing the battle for the presentation and preservation of cultural heritage?
Consider that two of the better known state archaeology programs that appear to be thriving, at least relatively speaking, are those of the Arkansas Archaeological Survey and the Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN). One of the things that these two organizations do exceptionally well is public outreach. The Survey in conjunction with the Arkansas Archeological Society holds an annual certification program for avocational archaeologists, where the public have the opportunity to be trained in a range of field and other research methods by the professional community. Although I am confident that many professionals will scoff at or be outright offended at such practices, a review of the program points to the very real contribution the certification has made in Arkansas. In Florida, FPAN also offers several programs for the public such as the Cemetery Resource Protection Training (CRPT) that actively engage communities in the process of preservation.
These programs go beyond passive lectures or hands on activities to fully engage the public in an active learning and participatory process. This trend of an active or participatory engagement is particularly strong in the museum The Paul Hamlyn Foundation in the United Kingdom has developed excellent models for direct engagement in museums and working with collections. The Connecting to Collections Online Community here in the United States archives several webinars that explore involving the public in preservation tasks through direct collections work, oral history interviews and other methods.
A distinct difference in the above programs and what I have considered community outreach for much of my career is the direct engagement of the public in the process. That is, instead of a lecture, the above programs engage in a dialogue where the public become a true part of a participatory process. The participation is not simply for the sake of a hands-on experience, but one where the public become stakeholders in the process of presenting and preserving their cultural heritage. In this way, museum exhibits and other cultural heritage presentations move from being about the community to being of the community.
Consider how such an engagement might work based on a recent article about a five-year process at the C.H. Nash Museum:
Finally, we consider the relevance of our cultural institution to the community of prime importance. We believe that if in 2007 we had asked the residents of Southwest Memphis what the C.H. Nash Museum meant to them, in all likelihood, their response would have focused on how some of “our children visit for school field trips and Chucalissa is where the Indian Mounds are located.” If we ask that question today, we hope the response will include “Chucalissa is the place where there is an exhibit on the cultural heritage of our community; where there is a resource center on our community history; the place where we hold our Black History Month celebrations; where our traditional foods garden was planted last year; where the AmeriCorps Teams that work in our community live; and also where the Indian Mounds are located.”
I will add that all of those products were co-created by the Westwood Community and the C.H. Nash Museum. We hope to use International Archaeology Day on October 19 to explore more possibilities for being relevant and engaging with the public to whom our museum serves.
Two years I posted about the opportunity of using National Archaeology Day as a response to shows like American Digger. This year’s International Archaeology Day is again an excellent opportunity to actively engage with the public who will ultimately decide the fate of the world’s cultural heritage presentation and preservation.
I have reviewed and posted before about The Anthropology Graduate’s Guide: From Student to a Career by Carol Ellick and Joe Watkins. I am pleased this week to post an interview with one of the authors, Carol Ellick. In addition to the work she describes in her interview, Carol is a strong advocate for public outreach in archaeology. She is one of the driving forces behind the creation of Archaeologyland featured prominently on the Society for American Archaeology’s web page and at their annual conferences.
In the interview below, Carol talks about why she and Joe decided to write the Graduate Guide and provides some insights on how to get that first job in the cultural heritage sector.
To start off, please tell us a bit about yourself.
My interest in archaeology stems from a family cross-country trip. One of the places we stopped was Mesa Verde where, in the museum, there was an Ancestral Puebloan pot and all the corn that had been stored in it. That display held me captive and caused me to ask, “How did they do that?” Over the course of the past 30+ years, I have held just about every job an archaeologist could have, from field to lab, transit to drawing table, computer to classroom. I’ve worked within for-profit firms, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and universities.
Why did you decide to write The Anthropology Graduate’s Guide: From a Student to a Career?
I decided to write The Anthropology Graduate’s Guide: From a Student to a Career (with Joe Watkins) while working at a non-profit historic preservation organization and as an adjunct professor at the University of New Mexico. Joe and I attended a graduate symposium during which we found that no one had prepared the students for how to give a professional presentation. After discussing the shortcomings of this event and complaining about how the academy does a poor job of preparing students for the realities of entering the workforce, we decided to stop complaining and be part of the solution. We started with an outline (written on a plane ride) for a course which we hoped would eventually become a book. Turned out that the book contract came before teaching the class. At dinner following the flight, our friend and publisher Mitch Allen, handed us a book contract. We taught “Avenues to Professionalism” at the University of New Mexico, tested the exercises, received feedback from students, and used the information as the base for the book.
You write about the importance of internships and volunteering as preparation for applying for jobs. What steps do you suggest that someone take to maximize the value of an internship or volunteer experience?
I always recommend that students volunteer or do an internship. How do you know you really want to work in this field, if you never try it? To me, financial compensation is the bonus, what the internship provides as the base pay is the experience itself, exposure to working professionals, expansion of one’s network, something for the résumé, and a reference for future employers. Whether it’s a paid position–internship or job–or a volunteer position, it is up to the individual to put the limit on the amount of time they can put in. I suggest that students write a contract that clearly states what they can commit and what they would like out of the internship. The contract writing experience helps clarify the expectation not only for the student, but also for the sponsor. My other suggestion is that the intern take full advantage of the experience. Ask questions. Offer to help. Also, be happy to do small chores like answering the phone or filling envelopes. If you make yourself indispensable, it may even lead to a real paid position.
Why do you recommend maintaining a career portfolio?
A career portfolio serves several purposes. First, we are a transient society and anthropology can be a seasonal, transient profession. If you create a career portfolio when you begin assembling the materials for applying to jobs you establish an organizational structure and the habit to maintain it. Second, the portfolio provides one location for all job related information. You will never wonder where you put your résumé or CV. It becomes your backup to your computer records–a safeguard for the potential computer crash. And third, as you accumulate materials, the portfolio becomes your professional archive, which after years, can be looked through. It is the measure of your career. Five, ten, twenty, thirty years after you start, you can look back through the things you’ve written, the jobs you’ve held, the references that have been written on your behalf, and the places you’ve been–and you will be amazed at what you’ve accomplished.
What is the most important thing that students overlook in preparing for a career in the cultural heritage field?
Students have spent their entire lives in educational settings that are geared to getting the student to the next educational level. The natural progression is to continue from student to educator. I feel that our educational system does a poor job of preparing students to think outside of the classroom or a standardized exam. Open your mind to options! Learn to question. Learn to communicate. Learn to write.
What are the biggest shifts in employment in the cultural heritage fields and anthropology over the past 10 years?
There seems to be a broader range of job opportunities for individuals with anthropology or related degrees. Employers see the utility of hiring individuals whose with a degree has to do with an understanding of people. According to statistics, this trend is going to continue to be a positive one with, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, a 21% increase in anthropology related jobs between 2010 and 2020.
Many job ads require 2-3 years of experience as a base qualification. How does someone with no experience acquire the minimum level to even apply for a job?
It’s not as bad of a Catch-22 as you might think. My first suggestion, of course, is to get introductory experience through internships and volunteering. Experience is something you build. Develop a plan. Use the job ads to identify the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for the job and work toward accumulating them. Correlate work performed in other jobs outside of anthropology or cultural heritage to duties and responsibilities within the desired jobs. Maybe you haven’t supervised lab analysts before, but you have supervised employees in a retail business. Highlight the duties and responsibilities that relate to the desired job. Be realistic. Starting at the bottom and working your way up will give you a better perspective than jumping into a job with no experience other than a college degree.
Any final advice to those who are looking for that first job in the cultural heritage sector?
Everyone who applies for that job should have roughly the same qualifications–a college degree and the required experience. Figure out what qualities and special abilities you possess that makes you a better potential employee than everyone else. And, more than anything, be positive and enthusiastic.
This week in the midst of a government shutdown Eric Cantor and Lamar Smith took a stand in USA Today against archaeology and a swath of ambiguously defined “science programs.” Cantor and Smith argue that the nation should significantly restrict federally supported science projects (especially social sciences), and in a moment of economic hardship such fiscal discipline sounds attractive. However, their superficially reasonable fiscal sobriety masks a deep-seated aversion to critical scholarship and the academy, caricaturing archaeological research and taking aim on all social sciences in the process.
Or What I Learned During My Time in the Louisiana Regional Archaeology Program . . .
The Fall 2013 Newsletter of the Louisiana Archaeological Society had bad news. Louisiana’s Regional Station Archaeology Program is now effectively disbanded because of state budget cuts. There remains one regional station in Northwest Louisiana along with the Poverty Point Station Archaeologist. As Poverty Point was recently nominated as a World Heritage Site of UNESCO, hopefully the state will continue to fund the Station Archaeology Program at this premier earthwork complex in the New World.
From 1996 – 2003, during my seven years as the Station Archaeologist at Poverty Point, under the direction of the late State Archaeologist Tom Eubanks and the current Manager of the Outreach, Regional, and Station Archaeology program Nancy Hawkins, my commitment to public outreach as an applied archaeologist was formed. Both Tom and Nancy’s vision of public engagement never wavered. In fact, it was under the 20 plus years of leadership by Nancy Hawkins that the Louisiana’s Regional program helped set the standard on which other state archaeology programs were built.
During my tenure as the Poverty Point Station Archaeologist, I was first able to respond to the challenge I received in my first field school experience – to act as a public servant who performed tasks that were relevant to those whose tax dollars paid my salary.
One of my first experiences in public outreach in Louisiana archaeology was with Debbie Buco, a very enthusiastic Talented and Gifted teacher from Baton Rouge. Nancy put me in touch with Debbie who was using the archaeology of Poverty Point to teach natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences to her second through fifth grade students. After my first few conversations with Debbie, I was not certain how I could fit into her work, but I knew I wanted to tap into her enthusiasm. For a period of several months in 1997 I had a regular email exchange with her students answering questions about the prehistoric life at Poverty Point. What did the Indians eat? What did the kids do for fun? What were there houses like? As we went back and forth via email, I learned valuable lessons on how to use archaeology to engage with the students.
Toward the end of the 1997 school year, I made the trip to Debbie’s classroom at Buchannon Elementary in a clearly underserved section of Baton Rouge. When I walked into the classroom, I was humbled by the enthusiasm the students had for a visit from the archaeologist who had been writing to them about Poverty Point and drove all the way to their school for a visit. After climbing inside the palmetto hut they built inside their classroom along with at least three of the students, we began a conversation in the less cramped setting outside the structure. I asked the question:
“so, if you built this house outside and came back in a hundred years after it had rotted away, how could you tell it was ever there?”
To which there was silence at first and then a response -
“by the rotted sticks . . . no the postmolds . . . yeah, by the postmolds”
the students concluded in unison.
We talked about that some, then I held up a bladelet and asked:
“Do you know what this is?”
and I expected responses like “a rock” or at best a knife or tool, but the students responded immediately in unison with the same confidence that they knew 2 + 2 = 4:
Though impressive, it was not that the second through fifth grade students had learned to memorize the names of artifact types they had only seen in pictures, or that they could understand formation processes better than some undergraduates in Introduction to Archaeology classes I have taught. Rather, archaeology had set the students on fire in learning to read, conduct scientific experiences and more. Ultimately Debbie Buco produced the volume Poverty Point Expeditions, a workbook that uses archeology to teach physics, scientific experimentation, story telling, and more. Nancy saw to it that the Louisiana Division of Archaeology produced thousands of copies of the book for distribution to teachers throughout the state. A streamlined version of the book is available online.
Nancy organizes Archaeology Month in Louisiana and during my time at Poverty Point it was always a big deal. I enjoyed the opportunity to take the archaeology show on the road as it were for up to two weeks every year. My m.o. was to arrange for a school presentation during the day and then a public presentation at a library or other civic center in the evening. I have spoken in a good number of the small Louisiana towns that might have only one traffic light and a small library. I have posted before about some of my very memorable classroom experiences during Archaeology Month.
I learned a lot about public outreach from the library meetings in the small towns where farmers and surface collectors would come to show what they had plowed up. During these presentations, I came to appreciate the interest avocational archaeologists had not just in their “arrowheads” but for their true respect and interest in the prehistory of the fields they plowed each year. I spoke several times at the public library in Belzoni, Mississippi, just down the road from the Poverty Point Culture Jaketown site. In one talk I discussed how Carl Alexander, an avocational archaeologist who collected at the Poverty Point site, would label where he had picked up many of his artifacts. I noted that because Carl recorded the provenience of his collections, today we could better understand how the different ridges and sectors of the Poverty Point site were the locations of different types of activities in prehistory. I showed how a large percentage of the whole projectile points were found in the north end of the site, perforators on the southwest sector of ridges, and the ubiquitous clay cooking balls had their greatest densities along the edges of the Bayou Macon. I then asked:
“Do you all see a similar pattern of artifact types in the different areas where you collect around the Jaketown site?”
And the collectors nodded in agreement and began to talk about the clusters. The next year when I spoke at the Belzoni library a couple of the collectors reported they had begun to take note of where they were recovering different types of artifacts. Today there is a small museum in Belzoni where some collectors have donated portions of their collections from the Jaketown site.
Back at Poverty Point, for school group visits during Archaeology Month, I developed a 20-minute program for when a couple thousand school children jammed through the site each day over a three-day period. My assigned station was to show how archaeologists used artifacts to interpret prehistory. I talked about how archaeologists primarily examine the garbage left by the people who lived at the site. To illustrate that process I would take a made bucket of dirt and artifacts and dump the content through a set of large to small nested geologic sieves. I would then invite the students to pick out a piece of garbage from the sieves moving from large to small, and guess what the garbage represented. In so doing, we covered everything from trade and exchange based on raw material types, subsistence from faunal remains, tool manufacture, and more. For the last station in the 20 minute presentation I would scoop some light fraction (the stuff that rises to the top) from a soil sample placed in a barrel of water. I said that the bits of seeds and bone were:
“not ‘like’ what the people were eating at Poverty Point nearly 4000 years ago, but the very food the people were eating”
Without fail for seven years, even the most restless student would grow quiet and strain to see those bits of prehistoric garbage.
I could ramble on with many more examples of the lessons I learned in applied archaeology and public outreach during my time as a part of Louisiana’s Regional Archaeology Program. I am in debt to the Louisiana Division of Archaeology for giving me the opportunity to learn these skills. Though the Regional Archaeology Program may be gone, the 20 years of work by Tom Eubanks, Nancy Hawkins, and all of my archaeological colleagues in the state will surely result in new and innovative directions for the preservation and presentation of the rich cultural heritage of Louisiana.
I got a call the other day asking for an archaeologist to come to a 5th grade class to talk about hunter gatherers and how archaeologists interpret prehistoric sites. In the corner of my office, I see that I am still using that same bucket of dirt, replenished on occasion, to talk about the same prehistoric garbage I started with over 15 years ago in Epps, Louisiana!
As anyone who reads this blog with any regularity knows, I am a huge fan of AmeriCorps NCCC who just celebrated their 20th Anniversary. Click on the above link to watch a video about the significance of that event.
In the past two years, AmeriCorps NCCC Teams have come to play an essential role at the C.H. Nash Museum in helping to carry out our mission. This October 23rd we will welcome our fourth eight-week AmeriCorps NCCC Team. The Teams live in the Museum’s repurposed residential complex we have named the Community Service Learning Dormitory.
Over the two-year period, we have evolved an effective three-prong approach to service in Southwest Memphis with AmeriCorps NCCC Teams.
Service in the Southwest Memphis Community
The teams work with the Westwood Neighborhood Association who identify elderly and U.S. military veterans on fixed incomes in need of residential clean-ups to prevent their property from being in violation of city codes. The teams also perform minor to moderate repair work on roofs and other exterior structural repairs on houses for the elderly and veterans. For example, this fall’s team will spend about 10 days working on the house of an 88 year-old WWII military veteran who has lived in his home since 1953 in the Walker Homes neighborhood of Memphis. Walker Homes was launched in the late 1940s as a neighborhood for returning African-American WW II Veterans.
In the past two years we have focused on expanding the role of other community residents in working with the AmeriCorps Team. For example, this past spring the River 7 Team met regularly with Boys and Girls Clubs in the area. The Team’s work was also supported both financially and through employee volunteering from the new Electrolux facility located near the Museum.
Service in the T.O. Fuller State Park
Each AmeriCorps NCCC Team also completes infrastructure improvements at the T.O. Fuller State Park located next to the Museum. The tasks include trail maintenance, painting, and other special projects. For example, the River 7 Team planted over 800 trees in a new ecological habitat being created at the Park. The Teams also help in Park community events such as the Annual Easter Egg Hunt and Halloween activities.
The AmeriCorps service at T.O. Fuller has added significance for two reasons. First, the Park was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Today, AmeriCorps is a legacy of that organization. Second, T.O. Fuller State Park plays an important role in the cultural heritage of the Southwest Memphis community as one of only two facilities in the United States built in the 1930s as a State Park for African-Americans in the Jim Crow-era segregated South.
Service in the C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa
The AmeriCorps Teams at Chucalissa have carried out innumerable tasks including rehabbing the community service learning dorm, building benches and picnic tables, building a replica prehistoric house, trail maintenance, reconfiguring the repository space, artifact processing and much more. This fall the team will build a pergola-type outdoor activity space, rain shelters along our trail system, and several components of our new Landscape Literacy project.
Community Service and Relevance
The AmeriCorps Team members exemplify some of the very best commitment to service of the millennial generation. We are particularly pleased with the increased community engagement in the AmeriCorps NCCC projects. I enjoy that the Teams bring a willingness for flexibility and expanding the box of normal thinking. These qualities have been critical as the Community, the Park, and the Museum work together on collaborative projects that align with their individual missions. For example, this fall the AmeriCorps Team will take part in the community reclamation of an abandoned cemetery that draws on the archaeological and cultural heritage preservation expertise of the Museum. The AmeriCorps Team was also the link that allowed the Museum and Community to collaborate in creating a banner exhibit on U.S. Military Veterans unveiled at the September 11 Day of Service in 2012. The AmeriCorps NCCC Team highlights the relevance and partnership that comes to the fore in community service learning projects.
So . . . A hearty congratulations to AmeriCorps NCCC on their 20th Anniversary! Check out their website to see how your organization can partner with this fantastic organization.
I have been hooked on Nadine Korte’s History Kicks Ass! blog for quite a while. She posts images of everything from the 1957 Valentine’s Day Western Union Telegraph from Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to his wife Coretta Scott King to a 3000 year old Egyptian papyrus of an antelope and a lion playing a board game to a letter from JFK to his mother asking her to stop writing letters to Krushchev without his permission. The posted images are accompanied by brief descriptions and links for context and source. On quite a few occasions I have found myself going down the rabbit hole of the associated links. One of the most engaging aspects of History Kicks Ass is the focus on the day-to-day life of the famous, infamous, and the unknown from prehistory to the present day. The content of her blog is precisely what I find gets folks hooked on the need for presenting and preserving their own cultural heritage. Nadine graciously responded to my interview questions about her blog. Her vision for the role public history can play in our culture is exciting!
Could you tell us a bit about yourself and why you started the History Kicks Ass! Blog?
I trained in history at McGill University, but after my Masters was completed I was discouraged by the gap that seemed to exist between academic history and the general public so I started teaching. In the province of Quebec, we have a unique system of colleges called CEGEPs that students attend tuition-free in-between high school and university for two years. In return, students have one year shaved off each of their high school and university programs. It’s a unique system meant to promote and prepare students for higher education. I’ve been teaching at Champlain College St. Lambert near Montreal, Quebec, Canada for almost a decade now and absolutely love it! It is a real eye-opener when you teach a mandatory general history course to a student who knows they’ll never go into history. I think we, as historians, tend to get in this cycle of promoting history only to people that love history. It’s been so much fun over the past decade to teach history to those who may not like it and to try to convince them history is worthwhile. I started the blog because I am always bugging my friends by posting history-related stuff on Facebook, so this was kind of a way to give them a break and ‘get the history out’ by posting it in its own, proper venue! I just think history is awesome, but I understand that many people consider it the most boring subject in the world, so I wanted to use the blog as a way to convince people that it’s not that bad.
Where does the name of your blog History Kicks Ass! come from?
I’ve always firmly believed that history is one of the best ways to learn about humans, human nature, and the human condition! I’m not saying everyone should be historians but that learning history can help everyone understand more about the life they’ll end up living. Unfortunately, history is taught to most of us in such a nationalistic way it makes us forget that history can help us learn more about ourselves as a planet. The longer I study history, the more I realize its potential to teach empathy. You have to put yourself in someone else’s shoes to study their history and it is almost impossible to do this without gaining a bit more understanding that humans, no matter the culture or time period, have something in common. The world needs a bit more compassion, empathy, and understanding – in my opinion – and studying history is a great solution.
Your posts cover everything from prehistoric jewelry to historic documents related to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. How do you decide what to post?
To be honest, whatever interests me! I love historical documents, images, and artefacts. Whenever I see something that interests me to the point where I would text it to someone is when I post about it! The stuff I like the most is anything that reminds me that humans, no matter the time period or culture, have things in common. For example, the photo I posted earlier this month of a baby in a walker at the turn of the century is one of my favorites, because my one-year old just learned to walk and it reminded me that the pride I’m feeling is what parents have experienced for thousands of years.
Do you have a favorite subject area?
Ancient Rome! It’s what I teach and there are times when I think I live, eat, sleep, and breathe ancient history. But one of the reasons I started this blog was to learn more about things I was not familiar with, so that is why you see so many posts about modern times.
Your posts reflect the wealth of materials that are now available online. What are some of your favorite resources for these materials?
Anything that has good photos and comes from a trusted source. I find that the majority of history on the internet is unsourced, unverified, and most of the time totally out of context. Whenever I see a photo floating around Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc., I’m always wondering: Who took that photo? What is that artifact made out of? What year is that from? And that stuff never accompanies the photo. So I usually start my posts by looking through databases put together by academics, archivists, librarians, and governments. My favorite – just because of its size and advanced image quality – is the Library of Congress. Americans have invested so much money to put their history online and the results are really impressive! By comparison, the Canadian government has very little digitized content available online. We just commemorated the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 and I was so disappointed by the lack of online presence for the celebrations. I would love to be able to fix this! My other favorite places to look for material are museum websites, my favorite being the British Museum, the Smithsonian, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Also, the McCord Museum here in Montreal has a great website that focuses on social history.
Some cultural heritage professionals continue to argue that given the amount of documentation and collections available online, folks are less inclined to visit museums, libraries, and archives. How do you respond? Do you visit museums?
I would say emphatically that there is no need to worry! The people that take the time to go through museum websites are not the types of people who will be discouraged from going to museums. Unfortunately, I think most museums assume that their website’s audience is the general public. Really the audience is the general public who are already interested in history. Ask your friends how many times they have visited a museum website for something besides the opening hours and you will see what I mean. Asides from that, I cannot emphasize enough how I believe history belongs to people and should be a public good. I understand that museums need and use the money they receive from ticket sales. Yet that has to be balanced with the goal of museums: to educate the public about history, culture, and art. Museums can cost as much as $20 a ticket and for many this is not economically feasible. I am a well-educated professional and I still have trouble affording my tickets into museums and the trips to different cities in order to visit them. For me, the online databases are a way for me to supplement the time, effort and money it takes to see all the museums on my bucket-list.
What post or type of post on History Kicks Ass! gets the biggest response?
Ancient Egypt always gets the most response, hands down! As well as anything that is very relatable, for example hundred-year old photos that show situations that are still common today. What discourages me are the types of posts that receive the least response; if I post about civil rights, discrimination, or inequality I hear crickets. At first I was so upset because perhaps this meant people don’t think these things are important. But then again, I think people just prefer positive posts.
What do you consider to be the biggest success of your blog to date?
I still cannot believe anyone reads it, to be honest, because I am so used to boring all of my friends and family with my ‘fun’ history facts! If I made one person who does not really like history go “Hey, that’s interesting” then I am ecstatic.
What future directions to you intend to take the History Kicks Ass! blog? Do you have any words of wisdom for others to enhance their blogging efforts?
I have no plans so far. I’m just enjoying using the blog to learn more about what I love. As for words of advice the only that I can offer to writers is to chose topics that you wish to learn about, not always ones that you know about. This way, during those times when no one reads your post (and it will happen) at least you learned something from it.
I'm a big fan of professor and writer Clay Shirky. The insights he shares about digital culture via his writings are sharp and thoughtful. I read Shirky's Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizers last year and found it relevant and instructive despite its publication date of 2008. On its heels is Cognitive Surplus: How Technology Makes Consumers Collaboraters…