I am here snicking in a late (and brief) entry to Doug’s archaeology blogging carnival. This month’s challenge is to set out the best, the worst and the ugly about archaeological blogging. So here goes…
My own experience is that academic (not necessarily just archaeological) blogging is at its best when it emerges from some real-world collaborative or communal activity. In 2012, I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of weeks participating in IUPUI’s Spatial Narratives Summer Institute, funded by the NEH. There was an official blog for this to which we all contributed, but many of us blogged independently about the experience, and the ideas that we were developing. It can be no coincidence that my own post composed in this period, ‘Deep Maps in Indy‘ is my most viewed blog article ever. Apart from the fact that we generally referred to each other’s posts, thereby increasing our page views and likes (see below), this contributed to a sense of shared purpose and common cause – and this is especially so when one is in the company of great archaeology/cultural heritage bloggers such as Mia Ridge. The same was true of the CAA2012 session on the ‘Archaeology/Digital Humanities Venn Diagram session, which was subsequently Storified by Graeme Earl. Again, providing a sense of coming together from the real world, and continuity through a variety of different perspectives.
I would go with what many others have said on this subject. One of the worst and most frustrating aspects of academic blogging is low hits/visitor numbers. As Doug says, one feels that one is talking to a brick wall. I have to say I get less hung up on getting low volumes of comments on my posts (although getting any comments, good or bad, is always very welcome). My suspicion is that this aspect of blogging is being eroded by the Twittersphere — if you have something to say about a post, chances are you’ll tweet your reaction rather than using the Comment button. Whether positive or negative, this can actually be a good thing, drawing new readers to your blog and increasing your profile. That is unless, of course, you have some meaty response to make to a posting that could not possibly fit into 140 characters — but is perhaps the increasingly Twitterfied internet drawing blog readers away from that kind of reaction?
Having read some of the hair-raising examples in the Blogging Carnival of the things that can go so badly wrong with blogging and tweeting – for example getting fired for saying the wrong thing about one’s employers – I would have to say that I have, as of today, been spared any such experiences (and hope very much that things continue so).
The most apt sense of ugliness in reference to my own blogging is the literal one. I am not at all enamoured with my rather prosaic WordPress layout, but alas all the time I have to give to blogging is spent writing content rather than on aesthetics. But I know that is not what is really meant by the question.