#201 #SAA2014 #BlogArch Carnival November

BlogArch Logo.jpg

From Doug's Archaeology Blog: At this year’s SAA conference there is going to be an amazing Blogging in Archaeology session [which I'm chairing, incidentally]. It has been a few years since there has been one. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend the session and I know a couple of other archaeology bloggers who can’t either. My way of contributing is to widen the participation by hosting a blogging carnival (what’s a blogging carnival, click here) on archaeology and blogging. This was done for the last blogging session by Colleen and this is inspired by her work.

Question 1: Why blogging? Why did you start a blog?

I've written about this before. Actually I probably wrote about it in my very first post, as I suspect most people do. I'm going to write about it again, however, because of the importance of the circumstances.

Prior to the SAAs in Sacramento in 2011 I wasn't a blogger and I didn't even read any blogs. Blogs were pretty much off my radar. Since I wasn't on Twitter either, that was likely the reason. I was always very interested in blogging, however. I'm one of those arrogant bastards that thinks everything he says is important and profound. It's true. Just ask me.

Actually, my first thoughts about writing recreationally  about archaeology started on my very first project. I'm the type of person that reads instructions, reads technical manuals, and follows recipes. The fact that there wasn't a book I could read that would tell me how to be a CRM archaeologist really annoyed me. After a couple jobs I thought I should write one. I even went so far as to send in a table of contents and sample chapter to the people at Rough Guides. They said it was too much of a "niche" market. These are the same publishers with a "Rough Guide to Opera". Right.

Fast forward to 2011. I have a fresh MS degree in Archaeological Resource Management and I'm at the SAAs. I was starting to get more interested in talking about archaeology and was intrigued by the Blogging Archaeology session organized by Coleen Morgan. What I saw not only humbled me, but, blew me away.

While I was waiting for the session to start I opened a Twitter account because of the Twitter information on the projector screen at the front of the room. I was amazed at the behind-the-scenes activity going on! I was also pissed that I wasn't part of it.

After hearing some awesome papers by awesome people I immediately went back to my hotel room and started a blog. I wrote my first post that day and tweeted it out. I had an initial surge in followers to my twitter handle and my blog, but they fell off and things equalized. Now, my blog is read by about 2000-4000 unique visitors a month (about 10,000 page views a month) and I have over 560 Twitter followers.

My blog is designed to help fellow archaeologists. Occasionally I'll talk about a specific project, but, that's usually not allowed in CRM so I stay away from it. Also, being fired twice for blogging will make you a little gun shy. It's one of the reasons I started my own company. Ef those bastards. I'll just blog about my own projects.

I have a series of posts under the title, "Shovelbums Guide" where I give helpful information to new and experienced archaeologists. Recently I started a "Word for Archaeologists" series too. Many of us in report writing need all the formatting help we can get.

So, to make a long answer even longer: I blog because I'm the most interesting man in the world and I want all of you to know how much I know. Or, I just like to help people and I want everyone to learn from my spectacularly colossal mistakes.

Why are you still blogging?

In short, I'm still blogging because I feel like I still have something to say. When every field tech is informed and treated fairly I'll stop. I don't think that's ever going to happen, though, so I think I'll keep this going for a while.

I've tried to blog on a schedule, but, unfortunately life and other commitments get in the way. If I were getting paid for this I'd be able to devote more time to it (see subscription levels to the right!). It's not all free work, though. My Shovelbums Guide series is being turned into a book by Left Coast Press (click on the image above) and will be out for #SAA2014. Or, around then, at least. Because of the payment system, though, I won't see a dime until June of 2015. When I do get a check, I doubt I'll be quitting my day job. Books are more of a labor of love than a way to pay the bills. Well, archaeology books, anyway.

The blog has also turned into a podcast that me and some other great archaeologists put out every two weeks. I'd like to do it every week but I don't think I can ask for that sort of commitment from the panelists. Again, you can't look a free gift horse in the mouth.

The CRM firm I started back in January will eventually pay someone to blog, podcast, and make videos. I have to get some work, first, though. My savings have pretty much dried up and this week I'm working part time at my wife's workplace. Her boss is cool and came up from starting the business too. She's the ideal to strive for. I won't deny that working there part time during the winter feels a little bit like giving up and failing, though. Stupid bills. I have a meeting this week that could change everything, though, so we'll see.

If I get to the point where I have project archaeologists I'll expect them to blog. I think it's a great way to coalesce your thoughts so the public can understand them, I also think it's a necessary part of our job. Recording history is only the first half. Your job isn't done until you tell someone about what you found and your conclusions.

OK. That's enough for now. Thanks, Doug, for organizing this!

Thanks for reading and I'll see you in the field!