In my November Blogging Archaeology post, I discussed a handful of really great things that have come out of my frequent blogging on Imponderabilia. In this December post, Blogging Archaeology bloggers were asked to discuss the ‘good, bad and ugly’ of archaeological blogging and expand upon these ideas. I decided to focus on the good – although we certainly all have examples for the bad and the ugly!
As I mentioned in my previous post, archaeological blogging has brought about some pretty awesome opportunities for me. I decided to tackle this month’s post by discussing the ways in which archaeological blogging can serve as “a good” for the blogger, the reader, and the digital community at large. Just to make this post reader friendly, I decided to try out a list-style article, featuring what I believe to be the greatest benefits of blogging, and sharing my own examples when applicable.
Career-Building Through Blogging
It’s not like anyone is ever going to offer you a job based solely off of your blog, I know. But, over the course of my blogging ‘career,’ I have come across many opportunities that could, potentially, someday, lead me to the public-history career of my dreams. Just to throw out a few examples (even though I already mentioned them) :
Because of sharing my thesis on my blog, I was contacted by the Association for Gravestone Studies, and asked to speak about my research at the Association for Gravestone Studies, NY Chapter Inaugural Meeting in Brooklyn, NY. This was an awesome opportunity – not only did I get to travel to NYC for a weekend and visit the amazing Green-Wood cemetery where the conference was hosted, but I got to chat with other historians, material culture experts and public-history enthusiasts, throw around a few business cards, and generally just get my name and my research out there. You can read a summary of the talk that I gave for AGS here.
I am currently working on a project called the Rochester Reform Trail, a National Endowment for the Humanities funded landmarks and culture workshop here in Rochester, for social studies teachers. While this is not directly related to my blog, it certainly paved the way for me to fall into this opportunity. The director is one of my former college professors (and thesis director), who brought me onto the project as a digital public historian, in part because he was aware of my blog and saw it as an opportunity to expand the effectiveness of digital public history through blogging and social media.
Every academic is looking for increased exposure for their work, research, interests, etc. Archaeological blogging is a great way to bring attention to topics that we bloggers think of as attention-worthy! I for one, know that the digital copy of my thesis (Romanticism and Ruralism) has gotten far more reads than the paper copy ever did – and as a shamelessly-self-promoting historian, that makes me very happy.
Keep up on those writing skills!
While not all of my posts actually contain a ton of my original writing, being in the habit of writing/posting/researching a few times a week is definitely a great motivator to stay on top of my writing skills. After spending so many years in college, and especially studying history, it would be a great tragedy to let my writing abilities go to waste. Updating my blog frequently forces me to read, analyze, write and edit.
Networking and Building Valuable Connections
One great benefit of blogging that I have discovered is that it serves as a great means of building and maintaining a network of academic connections. Not only is blogging a great way to find new networking potentials all over the world, but it also makes it easy to keep up on pre-existing contact’s latest research, travels, publications, etc., and update them on your own as well. This seems to be particularly beneficial when it comes to travel blogging – make some strong connections in your field in other countries, and you’re guaranteed a personal travel adviser when you visit!
Serving as a resource to your digital community
One of my main motivations for blogging archaeology when I began was to create a site that could serve as a resource to its readers. I wanted Imponderabilia to be a place that people would check back in frequently to see what’s new in the archaeological/material culture world, share their thoughts, and maybe send a post to an interested acquaintance. I think for the most part, it has become that. The scope of my page is always expanding, of course – but at its most basic, I hoped for Imponderabilia to serve as an academic resource for its readers.
There is something incredibly gratifying about sharing original work online and wracking up the view and receiving positive responses from readers. While traditional academia generally looks down upon digital publishing through blogging, I think it’s a great way to get ideas out there with a certain level of immediacy that traditional publishing processes tend to lose.
Social Media and Creating Sharable Content
Blog posts make for extremely sharable content, both for writers and readers. Archaeological and historical blogging is especially sharable, with relevant hash-tags, images, links to digital archives, etc. It’s one of the reasons I moved my blog to WordPress – the ability to share immediately and across a wide range of media outlets sets up bloggers for successful viewage!
Creating a Compilation of Work that Functions as a Reference Tool
One definite ‘good’ that I think my blog provides is the fact that it functions as a reference tool. I love to see searches in my stats along the lines of “What are examples of Greek Geometric Figures” or, “recent archaeological discoveries in Ireland” or “Images of roman mosaics from Jerash.” These searches let me know that people are finding my blog through search engines and actually getting something out of it! Whether that’s for a quick link to a reference for a research paper, finding an elusive source, pulling an image, or just looking up an area of interest, I am happiest with the definition of Imponderabilia as a digital resource. Of all the good, bad and ugly elements of archaeological blogging – this one strikes me as the most significant good. In the archives of my blog, I have travel tips, academic research papers, book reviews, source guidelines, access to digital documents, images (many of which are my own), and other great resources for academics, students or just interested readers.
In any case, there are certainly many more examples of the ‘good’ that comes out of archaeological blogging, as I’m sure this next month’s blog carnival will unveil. I’m looking forward to the upcoming responses from other bloggers!
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