Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Why this blog started and (nearly) stopped

This post is part of a blog carnival in the run-up to SAA 2014:

Why blogging? – Why did you start a blog? 
I started the 10 simple steps to better archaeological management  blog in 2008 as I was preparing  a presentation for the 2009 IfA conference.  I have had a long interest in the applaiction of comemrcial management theory to the practice of archaeology, and had a few things I wanted to say about where archaeologists were going wrong. 
I had been blogging on life and literature since 2004, mainly as an outlet for writing that didn't have anywhere else to go, and it seemed natural to use the same format in the run-up to the conference, if only to share the concepts with the other speakers in the session.   I was surprised to find that there was little overlap between the papers, because they addressed a wide range of topics under the umbrella of archaeological management, and little discussion arose.  But in any case, writing the blog meant that I prepared the text in advance (my usual practice is to make up a powerpoint set and wing it on the day), and of course the chance to include links to the sources cited and further infromation is much better than the usual talk which hopes that the audinece's notes manage to capture something of what was said.     
I recognised early on that I would not in fact be able to fit everything i wanted to say in the 20 minutes allowed, and so I decided to use print-on-demand technology ( to produce a book version of the paper for sale at the conference (it was a simple process to paste the posts into a Word file, convert it to pdf, and create the book).   
Although the talk went well, and some books were sold, I was disappointed by the lack of follow-up in terms of readership of the blog.  Most people found the blog through Google searches for individual terms, and almost all only read one or two posts.
Why are you still blogging? / Why have you stopped blogging
I have always had strong opinions about the practice of archaeology, and although I have published in learned journals and elsewhere  I have found the constraints of academic and professional writing hard work.  The great joys of blogging are:
  • a chance to express an unpopular, extreme or impolitic opinion unfettered by an editorial hand
  • a chance to write as long or as short as I want, in informal language, with jokes  and asides
  • a chance to write about any topic I choose
  • a chance to respond in real time to emerging news stories rather than waiting for a print version to appear

Over time, without seeking subjects out, I have added to the initial brief overview, and these have fomred the basis of the much expanded and revised 2nd edition of the book.   I would have had little chance to write this book as a concerted exercise, and would have found immense difficulty in finding a publisher: the economics of a short print run and a niche market reached through the website only make sense as a do-it-yourself business.

The frequency of blog posts had dropped dramatically over the last couple of years, mainly because I haven't come across burning issues on which I have anything to add, and aslo because my 'spare' time is directed more towards poetry.

It is pleasing to see that some of the posts, especially How to get your first job  and Ethics and commercial archaeology    , continue to get a lot of traffic, including links from university courses, and it is clear that the blog fills a gap in the information and guidance that is available.  My regret is that the promise of Web 2.0 to generate a global conversation remains unfulfilled - the Twitter model rather than Wikipedia. 


1 comment:

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