My Best Archaeology Post – Damned if I Know
We enter the third month of Doug’s Archaeology blogging carnival that leads up to the Blogging in Archaeology session at the Society for American Archaeology 2014 meetings in Austin. To review, Doug poses a question each month to which folks respond. Doug then summarizes the individual posts at the end of the month, and posts the set of links. The carnival and SAA session have the hashtag #blogarch.
For January Doug posed:
reflect on what you consider your best post(s) and why that is. Also, think about what others might think is your best post however you want to measure that (views? comments? etc.). Then share your thoughts.
My answer is not very straightforward but here goes:
- My post with the largest number of hits is Thoughts on How to Get a Museum Job. I wrote this post in part out of frustration from reading recent graduates and professors in both museum studies and anthropology write there were no jobs out there, etc. As I noted in the post, I recognize that, yes, times are tough, but students can be proactive to enhance employment possibilities upon graduation. In general, I don’t think those of us in academia spend enough time mentoring students in this process. At the same time, students often feel that with degree in hand, they are entitled to a job of their choice. I hoped that my post could bring some productive discussion to the issue. Given the overwhelming positive feedback I received in blog comments and in emails the post proved helpful to many.
- My post with the next highest number of hits is the one in which I am most personally invested – End of An Era in Louisiana Archaeology. Louisiana is where I learned what applied archaeology and cultural heritage studies were all about. My colleagues in the Louisiana Division of Archaeology – Tom Eubanks, Nancy Hawkins, Duke Rivett, Chip McGimsey, Joe Saunders, Jeff Girard, George Avery, Chris Hays, and others were some of the finest colleagues I have ever known. The dedication these folks poured into the cultural resources of Louisiana over the years was truly phenomenal. The current short-sighted economic agenda of Louisiana lawmakers ushered in the dismantling of the Regional and Station Archaeology Program. But as I noted in that post “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.” That is the challenge for us in the 21st century and the primary reason I created this blog in the first place.
- Now here is where the challenge of “best post” gets interesting – my public outreach type posts do reasonably well in terms of views. They are the bread and butter of this blog over the past three years. Like my interview with the three co-founders of South Carolina Archaeology Public Outreach Division last week, or posts on my recent collaborative work with PIARA in Hualcayán, Peru I enjoy that blogging is a venue for sharing and learning from others in the public outreach arena. However, the series of posts I consider the most important are the ones that are generally down in the bottom 25 percentile of hits – those that deal with open source and digital technology such as Wikipedia and Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs. They are important posts because I believe the issues are critically relevant as we move more toward open authority and user-generated content. In archaeology, I don’t see a lot of other discussion on these points.
As I think about the challenge of determining “best” posts, I realize that in a certain respect, I evaluate blog posts in the same way I approach my “regular” peer-reviewed publications. I write and publish about what is of interest to me or I perceive of value to others. Some of those pieces get a reasonable circulation because they are popular and more in the mainstream of discussion. I also try to publish in some venue the research projects where I collect data so that for even a limited number of interested folks, the information is available. For example, if you are a fan of Warren K. Moorehead, I recently posted transcriptions I made of a set of his field notes and journals along with a portion of Jacob Walters’ journal that contains the first written account of the Poverty Point site of which I am aware.