Reflections on 101 Blog Posts
This is blog post number 101 to Archaeology, Museums and Outreach. My initial intent for the blog, as reflected in my first post in December of 2009, was to offer a platform for discussing innovations and experiences in public outreach around cultural heritage. That intent came after attending a session on community outreach at the Southeastern Archaeological Conference in November of 2009. Many of the session participants expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of professional support given to the subject. I viewed this blog as a response to that concern for like-minded individuals to exchange ideas.
Here is some stuff I learned over the two-year period this blog has been up:
- For better or worse, Archaeology, Museums and Outreach seems to fill a niche. There are lots of websites that promote an individual institution’s archaeological outreach projects. However, there are few others, if any, focused on outreach in general.
- I have not put much effort into growing this blog, and maybe I really should. On analytics in general, between followers, searches and direct referrals, I generally run 500 to 700 hits per post, with a consistent increase over the two year period. You can easily increase hits with blog tags. I posted one entry with the title of Measuring Program Success and soon realized that I unintentionally hit on a key search engine phrase. That single post accounts for 20% of all of this blog’s hits ever! So it is not difficult to drive traffic to your blog, but what does the reader find once they get there? To tag every post with “Measuring Program Success” would dramatically up the blog hits but also seems the equivalent of spamming. What is more important than growing the number of hits is staying on topic.
- At first, I was surprised by the limited number of comments made to my blog posts. For most posts there are no comments. The 120 or so comments received over a two-year period are from about 50 of the posts. But . . .
- a rather pleasant surprise from the past two years is the amount of interaction/networking I have done with others in my field I have met through the blog, none of whom commented on a post. For example, I routinely run into or receive email from colleagues and friends who in-person comment on specific posts, or note that they enjoy the blog. Excerpts from three of my book reviews are cited on the publisher’s website. The websites of professional organizations and individuals link to this blog.
- Of particular interest to me has been the role of blogs in academics. One might expect a tenure and promotion committee to dismiss the energy I expended in the 70,000 or so words I have written for this blog to date – noting that amount of words would constitute at least 3 peer-reviewed articles in top line journals. Peer review publication is supposed to be the primary indication that the colleagues in one’s given field acknowledge the suitability and worth of your scholarship for publication. However, as Mr. Dylan noted The Times They Are a Changing. The change in academia is reflected in a recent article on the importance of academic blogging in general and for the dissemination of research. My blog posts to date resulted in invites and publication of two peer-reviewed articles and appointments in the professional organizations to which I belong. In this new reality, blogs also become an indicator of scholarly research.
- Finally, I really enjoy writing this blog – the dialogue and ideas that result. That dialogue is also the reason that I enjoy the classroom setting – the opportunity to engage with students and get their good ideas. So on the assumption that blogging does not go the way of My Space, Geocities, and Friendster, I look forward to putting together another 101 posts.