I'm just back from the Society for American Archaeology meetings in Austin, Texas and there is a lot to cover.
Blogging Archaeology, Again
I chaired this year’s blogging archaeology session and I have to say, it was a great success. We had only six presenters—Terry Brock couldn't make it—and one discussant at the end, but, the room was full most of the time. At one point I counted about 60 people with a sizable crowd standing in the back.
After the session there was a lively round of questions and discussion between the presenters and the audience. I only wish we could get those kinds of comments on our blogs! When we were about to be kicked out of the room a fair number of us adjourned to lunch at the Easy Tiger where the conversation continued.
I thought about mentioning this earlier, but, decided to wait and see how the session, and my presentation, went. Here it goes: I've never presented at a conference—no posters either—and I've never chaired a session. I've seen enough to know what to do and what not to do. A number of people have congratulated me on a great session, but of course, all the credit goes to the presenters and their engaging content.
Blogging Archaeology eBook
A few months ago Doug Rocks-MacQueen and I decided to publish an eBook of the papers presented at the conference. When we asked the presenters if they'd be up for it, several declined because they were publishing elsewhere. Down to just a few papers, we opened it up to the blogosphere. We ended up with a total of 16 papers from bloggers around the world. The papers covered a wide variety of topics ranging from mortuary archaeology to social media to issues related to looting, among others.
Since we'd planned to release the book at the beginning of the Blogging Archaeology session there were a lot of last minute tasks that needed to be attended to. That meant some intense editing and formatting time for Doug and some really long nights in Austin for me. We got it done, though, and the book is available on my website as a free download. As more people download it, access will get even better.
Blogging Archaeology, The Brand
The day before the release of the eBook, Doug and I were alerted to a possible issue with the title. We simply called the book "Blogging Archaeology" and thought no more of it. There was some concern that the title would cause confusion with the previous Blogging Archaeology session in Sacramento, the associated bogging carnival, and a publication that is yet to be released. It was too late to make a change and we went with it as is. Does it need a change, however?
At most I would add a year to the title. The phrase, "Blogging Archaeology", however, has become synonymous with this blogging and social media blitz that we’re all in. I see it the way I see tissue paper. Most people in the U.S. call tissue paper Kleenex. It’s not Kleenex, however. Kleenex is a brand. It’s the most popular brand, but, still a brand. This is similar to how some people annoyingly call all soda “coke”. In some parts of the country you can ask for a coke at a restaurant and the wait staff will ask “What kind?”.
So, “Blogging Archaeology” it is.
Papers, or lack of
There were a lot of things I would have liked to see this year. That being said, there was a distinct lack of papers I would liked to have seen as well. I felt that I was running all over the place in Hawaii last year. This year, however, my schedule was a lot lighter. Between my book release, the booth I ran for my new company, Field Tech Designs, LLC, the eBook prep, and the Blogging Archaeology session prep, I didn’t have much time for papers. But, like I said, there just wasn’t a lot I wanted to see.
When I did make it to the Great Basin session on Sunday there were a grand total of about 10 people in the room. I could hardly believe it! It’s usually quite full! Of course, since the SAAs don’t have conference tracks, many people were at the associated poster session that took place at exactly the same time. Nice job.
This year’s conference was amazing for meeting online friends, making new friends, and reconnecting with old friends. I met, for the first time, two of the people that have been recording the CRM Archaeology Podcast with me for over a year: Bill White and Stephen Wagner. Initial impressions? Bill is freakishly tall and Stephan is as snappy a dresser as he alluded to on a previous episode of the podcast!
John Lowe organized a #blogarch tweetup at one of his favorite haunts, The Liberty, for Thursday evening. A lot of people were there and it was great meeting some of the names I’ve come to know online. I even met Mr. Shovelbums himself!
As I’m writing this, the submission system for #SAA2015 in San Francisco is now open. I need to submit the next #blogarch abstract, but, I’m at a loss for a title. As some have noted, the session isn’t just about blogging anymore. It’s about the broad implications of blogging and social media. To me, blogging is a form of social media anyway. So, I want a title that includes blogging and social media.
I discussed this with some people in Austin and a few thought we could take blogging out of the title. I disagree. We’re still trying to reach an audience that is unfamiliar with blogging and with social media. Until blogging becomes mainstream in professional and academic archaeology, we need it in the title.
Suggestions? Comment HERE ON THE BLOG (!) with title suggestions and abstract suggestions.
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you at #SAA2015!