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.
I've been blogging for a little over 2 1/2 years now and for the most part it's been really positive. Through the blog I engage with thousands of people on a weekly basis. As a result of the blog I've published a book, started a podcast, and enhanced my business.
The one big downside with writing a blog is that you don't seem to receive many comments. Comments are the lifeblood of a blog. They keep you going and let you know that real people are out there. Nearly everyone involved in this blogging Carnival has said this exact same thing so I know I'm not alone here. I wish the different blogging sites, I use Squarespace, had a way to indicate that someone read the post, and, actually read it all the way through to the end. If you're not going to leave a comment, I’d at least like to know that you read the whole thing. Unless you're writing a journal, most of us write blogs to relay some sort of information or to help people out in some way. If it feels like we're talking to the wall then we can get disheartened and stop writing altogether, which has happened to a lot of people.
I've been fired twice for social media infractions, which is close to the title of my upcoming paper I’m giving for the blogging archaeology session at the SAAs in Austin this year. The first time I was fired was for a post I wrote about two months after starting my blog . I wrote the post regarding a project using publicly available information that I found on the client’s website. To begin with, my employer and I we're not exactly a good fit. They were stuck in the past and I was moving towards the future. Suggestions from all employees were routinely dismissed and there was no atmosphere for innovation and change. So, it really came as no surprise that I was fired as a result of a blog post. They said that I had violated confidentiality agreements that I signed when I was hired. I have to disagree on that point. I didn't say anything in the blog post that wasn't available on the Internet.
The second time I was fired was for writing a tweet. I know it’s not blogging, but, we’re really talking about social media anyway. I tweeted that I was on a mine. I tagged the mine in the tweet and my employer apparently saw it. It surprised me that they were even looking at Twitter and, I found out later, my tweets were the only ones they were looking at. My employer knew why I had been dismissed from my previous job and were probably worried that I’d do the same thing again. They were also questioning me about several blog post that I had written regarding projects I was on with that company. Again, I had used publicly available information and even showed them the posts before posting them. They didn't question them then and only later did they suggest that I change something or suggest I take them down.
After I wrote the tweet where I tagged the mine that I was working on, I found out that the company signed a seven page confidentiality agreement with the mine saying that they would never discuss anything on the mine or any projects associated with the mine. No one told us about this agreement.
So, why are companies so afraid of bloggers and social media? Some would say that they're afraid looters will find the sites that are blogged and tweeted about. This is a valid concern. Bloggers, tweeters and people posting on Facebook and Instagram need to be aware of location information in posts and photographs. This includes mountain ranges and skylines that could potentially identify sites. Also, in some cases companies do sign agreements from the clients saying that they will not discuss anything regarding the client or the client’s products. If they would only ask, it's possible that the clients would relent and let companies discuss, at least partially, some of the projects they are on regarding the archaeological science involved. It never hurts to ask.
I also think that most archaeologists, and especially people working in the office, are completely ignorant about social media and its power. Some of them actually think that they're doing some good by publishing obscure reports that languish in a BLM field office for the next 50 years and never get seen by anyone but fellow archaeologists. They don't realize that the general public would appreciate even a mention of some archaeology on land that they own, BLM land, and would love to have any information about. They don't realize that as archaeologists we are not only the gatekeepers of this historical information but we are also the trumpeters of this information. We are the ones responsible for telling the public about it.
So, I would invite everyone reading this to ask their company about the company’s social media policies. They’ll likely refer you to the employee manual, which you signed, and say this is how we feel about social media. Don't stop there though. Ask them if there is any information that you can you give to the public. Ask if you can start a public, or, company blog or if there's anyway that information about sites can be given out. Tell them you'll spearhead this movement, that you'll start the blog, and that you'll show them everything that goes on it before goes out. Show them other company blogs from around the company. Let them know that this is already being done and that no new ground is being charted here.
I have one more comment regarding commenting on blog posts. I get roughly 300 to 500 unique visitors for each one of my posts. Actually, that’s for every day of my blog. Many people don't actually even go to the website to read the blog. They instead prefer to use a blog reader to read all the blogs. If you happen to be sitting in front of a computer and can actually go to the site, even if it's just to say, “good job” or, “you suck” or, “write something better next time,” please do. Comments show us that somebody is listening and that someone is paying attention. This will make bloggers write better material, be more consistent, and engage people in conversation.
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the blogesphere.