Blogging Archaeology e-book

Good LORD, I’m behind. I guess being out of academia has made me even worse at blogging. Hopefully all that will end when I hear the result of my application to study for a PhD starting this coming September. BUT THAT’S A DIFFERENT POST.

My point is I recently took part, as did many others, in the Blogging Archaeology carnival. Such fun! So it was absolutely fabulous when Doug Rocks-Macqueen, the brain behind the whole thing, asked me to write a chapter for a Blogging Archaeology themed e-book. The book is Open Access (yess!) and you can either go here to read/download the PDF, or you can go here to read it like a magazine. There are some awesome chapters in there from some lovely fellow bloggers and I would thoroughly recommend the e-book, not because of my own reflective chapter on the subject of #freearchaeology, but because of the awesome result of a whole lot of passion for a truly excellent subject – blogging archaeology!

I must go now, because there is a gin and tonic with my name on it, and a melanzane parmigiana that will not make itself. Hopefully I’ll be back soon with either a) some good news, or b) something interesting to say. In the mean time, read the book, disseminate it amongst your friends and colleagues, and follow the blogs of those who took part! 

Advertisements

Blogging Archaeology: Where would you like to see archaeology blogging go in the future?

TO THE PAST!

… Sorry, I had to!

On a more serious note, though, I’d like to take this opportunity to express my very strong feelings about Open Access. 

One thing (of many) that I learned during my Master’s was that OA is SERIOUSLY the way forwards. No, really. Like, we HAVE to be fully on the band wagon with this one. It’s important. 

I shall illustrate my hopes for Open Access and blogging with anecdotal evidence from my dissertation writing experience. The bibliography of my dissertation is somewhat less homogenous than the average Master’s dissertation. It contained links to many a blog post, wiki page, and YouTube video. In fact, some of the most enlightening, poignant and current things that I read and referenced during that period of research were published online, completely openly and unofficially. My arguments would have been considerably less convincing without those references. 

So where do I see blogging going in the future? I can see it becoming far more accepted, nay encouraged, as a form of academic dissemination. Or maybe I hope that academic dissemination becomes more like blogging. I hope that intellectual discourse becomes more open, more conversational, and less regimented. I am sure that if this happens, it’ll be thanks to the way that blogging culture has effected the academic community.

 

Febuary’s Open Question Blogging Archaeology: Where I would be without Blogging

Again; LATE! But what the heck…

I’m going to get even more personal in this post, but I think a lot of people would agree they have had similar experiences with blogging.

I have always seen blogging as a much wider thing than just one individual writing down their musings which are then read and responded to by a set audience of interested peers and colleagues. Before I blogged on archaeology I blogged on other sites about teenaged things as an anony-mouse. Despite the complete contrast in subject matter, I find that the interactions are much the same. People aren’t only sharing their enthusiasms, they’re making friends, networking, socialising. My Master’s thesis looked at how people use online forums to socialise their experiences of the past in videogames, and I think that my in-depth study of online communities has deepened my belief that blogging as a form of online activity is not only about the sharing of knowledge and opinions, but also the creation of identities.

Using this blog I have created my own online persona. It is only a snippet of the whole me; a tiny portion of my life. It’s the parts that I chose to share with my ‘audience’ (somehow I dislike using that word, it sounds so self-important),  and it’s hugely useful. I’ve gained so much from this online presence; friends, knowledge, wisdom (which I would argue is completely different to knowledge) experience, job interviews. And in turn it’s become a part of me, my little online self. I love it and think fondly of all the fabulous, inspiring people I’ve met who all have different opinions and ways of thinking.

So I suppose the answer to the question in the title is: probably right here, but I’d be a lot less experienced and knowledgable. I’d be less known of. But most of all, I’d be a lot less optimistic about my future. The most important thing about blogging for me is knowing that there are other, like-minded people out there. They’re facing the same problems, rejoicing the same incredible discoveries, laughing at the same ridiculous jokes, and I can talk to them all, whenever I want!

Blogging Archaeology: My best, and my worst.

I know, I know! I’m so behind. And I know I’ve missed the deadline for Doug’s round-up, but if I start a thing (the carnival), I will finish it… even if it’s horrifically late and very old news.

There are soooo many angles I could tackle this question from, but I’m going to be hugely self indulgent, and talk about my own personal favourites.

My best

The automatic response would, of course, be ‘Free Archaeology!’. But, I don’t think it is my favourite post, in terms of it’s  content. I’m very proud to have been part of such a great discussion and a topic that have made such an impact on the online world of archaeology, and the subject is still a very important one for me. But it’s not a subject that makes me feel cheerful, per se.

My absolute favourite post so far is ‘Why archaeology needs game developers and other nerds’. It was probably the first time I expressed the thinkity thoughts that led to the realisation of the main research aims in my Master’s dissertation. The thoughts that I express in this post are also linked to those of my second favourite, in which I ask ‘are archaeologists afraid of their imaginations?‘. The issues that I deal with in these two posts, and of course, in my dissertation are still the ones that plague me… I’m absolutely positive that there’s a PhD in there somewhere…

My worst

I shan’t be as specific about my worse posts, but I am quite happy to express the opinion that my blog entries have become better over time. The first few were firmly guided by specific subjects of discussion, but after that there are a few in which I say nothing of any use, interest, or importance to anyone. Not even myself. I’ve left them there because I see them as an important part of the development of this blog, but boy are they useless.

Blogging Archaeology: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

I just found this post in my drafts. DAMNIT. All this time I thought it had been published. Still, better late than never…

So here I am again, contributing to this awesome blogging carnival. As I am sure everyone knows by now (there’s been a month’s worth of posts on this theme) the topic is as above. So here’s my take on the thing…

The Good

I suppose some of this comes in from the previous set of questions – my reasons for blogging archaeology are the same as the reasons that blogging archaeology is good! But I think probably the most positive thing that has come of my blogging in archaeology is the huge amount of support that’s available out there for anyone who wants to blog on any subject. No matter what your pet peeve is, there’s gonna be someone out there who agrees, is suffering the same fate as you are, someone who’s come out of the other end and although they’re fine now, they know exactly how you’re feeling or what you’re thinking. I’ve done a lot of moaning (here and on Twitter) about how difficult it is to be a post grad student, freshly spat out from the education system, weighed down by horrible debt and even worse employment prospects. Only because of the people who’ve said, ‘hey! Don’t worry man, I’m in exactly the same position. We can do it!’, have I not lost it all together.

The Bad

I don’t think I’ve invested enough time in blogging to properly get down to the nitty gritty, negative side that blogging obviously has. The only disappointment that I’ve experienced with blogging is my own frustrating lack of inspiration at times. I understand the importance of regularity when blogging, but have often found myself sitting down to post and finding that my brain is completely and utterly empty, even when it certainly doesn’t FEEL empty.

The Ugly

Very often I feel like I can’t express the opinions I would so dearly love to express because the opinions themselves might be ugly. I never want to offend anyone when I’m blogging, and I struggle with the feeling that I have to censor myself. I’m sure we’ve all heard horror stories about people losing job opportunities (or worse, jobs they already have!) because of opinions they’ve expressed on social media platforms. I do sometimes worry that with this blog, I’ve slightly shot myself in the foot. Despite all the brilliant, positive discussion that the Free Archaeology post prompted, I often wonder whether mentioning it to future employers is a good idea. What if they think I’m afraid of hard work, or think I see myself as superior… above the norm of doing voluntary work before gaining employment. Of course I don’t and I’ve explained elsewhere that currently I simply can’t afford to do any kind of free work. I am sure that were I financially equipped to do the thing I loved for free then I would do, especially if it increased my chances of happy employment. But I am digressing into another discussion. Perhaps it is time to end this post.

Why I blog Archaeology

Woooo a blog post!

I’ve often felt a bit woeful about the fact that I never have time/inspiration to blog. Well, here comes an excellent opportunity for me to enter into a bit of structured, regular blogging. If it works well, I might have to make myself a routine to stick to.

I should probably say what I am blabbering about. I decided to take part in the Blogging Archaeology carnival, hosted over at well known archaeology blog, Doug’s Archaeology. For more information, and to save my little typey fingers, you should click the first link to find out more. Suffice it to say that Doug will post a series of topics/questions every month on the lead up to SAA 2014 and archaeology bloggers all around the world will contribute their ideas and opinions. 

So, November’s questions and their answers are as follows:

Why did you start blogging?

I think some people might know that I started this blog just before I applied to do my Digital Heritage Master’s at the University of York. It’s original purpose was to act as a receptacle for all my thinkity thoughts about a novel I planned to write at the time. I often bemoan the lack of popular, good (I know it sounds silly, but the combination seems rare to me) fiction set in prehistory. 

The obvious answer is to provide the world with some myself. I had a set of characters and even some painstakingly created illustrations in ink and coloured pencils, but then I started the MSc and any spare time I had was taken up by working to pay the bills. It’s still something I think about lots, and I did start to write a PhD proposal last January in which I (rather childishly) pronounced that I would write a wonderfully researched novel in place of the traditionally structured thesis. Hur hur hurr, I should be so lucky.

Since then, however, my blog has morphed into a repository for my thoughts on current issues in archaeology (see the post that prompted this year’s #FreeArchaeology discussions) and the content and progression of my own education. 

Why are you still blogging?

There are two answers to this question.

The first is that I have always been rather excellent at talking about myself. I’ve always been even better at talking about stuff that gets to me. I guess I just love to rant. Archaeology does that – gets to me, I mean. I have this weird relationship with it where it drives me absolutely bonkers because I know exactly what it is and how it works and how it should be done… but at the same time, I have not the foggiest idea what archaeology is, why I am interested in it, which specific bit of it I am interested in, or whether or not I should even be bothering with it in the first place. Blogging helps me to think about all those things; to line them up in my head and compartmentalise them. For all the moaning I do in various essays about how archaeologists over-compartmentalise the archaeological record, their methods and their theories, I can’t help but do it myself. It’s this innate human reaction to anything that can be seen as ‘problematic’ (i.e. something that needs solving or resolving) and I suppose I use blogging, at least partially, to deal with my problematic relationship with archaeology.

The second much more sensible, and equally valid answer to the question ‘why are you still blogging?’ is that there is nothing quite like it for networking. I use it as a professional tool. It is what got me into the academic twitterverse, and it’s what got my thoughts and my work out there. Without it I wouldn’t know, or know of, the vast majority of the online archaeology/cultural heritage community. And they are all so great. There are great things being said on the personal blogs of wonderful, dedicated academics and professionals, and I feel honoured to be seen as a part of that. I hope that I can continue to be a part of the community by tweeting and blogging.

And eventually, I hope I’ll find out what it is in archaeology that really interests me, get funding for a PhD. Then blogging and tweeting will totally be classed as doing work. How awesome would that be?