The Future of Unearthing, and Where’s Our Emily? #BlogArch

For the last few months, I’ve been contributing intermittently to a “blog carnival” on the subject of archaeoblogging–a sort of months-long conference for bloggers, with each month dedicated to a different question. It’s been a lot of fun, and a great way both to find other blogs and reflect on the blogger’s craft. I’ve posted about why I blog in December, and about my best and worst posts in January, and I skipped both “the good, the bad and the ugly” post and the “write whatever you like” post. The whole thing is worth checking out over at Doug’s Archaeology Blog. Thanks, by the way, to Doug–this has all been great!

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This is the last month of the carnival, and, fittingly, the question is: “where are you/we going with blogging or would you it like to go? I leave it up to you to choose between reflecting on you and your blog personally or all of archaeology blogging/bloggers or both. Tells us your goals for blogging. Or if you have none why that is? Tell us the direction that you hope blogging takes in archaeology.”

I’ll start with my thoughts about the future of archaeoblogging generally.

I agree with both Doug and Kelly M when they say that archaeoblogging should, for the most part, stay as it is: it’s great that anyone can write an archaeoblog, and that anyone can read one for free. The diversity of archaeoblogs out there is a wonderful thing. One thing I do hope will happen one day, however, is for an Emily Graslie to rise from our midst.

For those who don’t know, Emily Graslie used to be a volunteer at the University of Montana’s Philip L. Wright Zoological Museum, with a cool little tumblr about natural history and museums. Now, through both her own sheer amazingness and a couple of lucky breaks (but mostly her sheer amazingness), she is one of the best-known science vloggers out there, with a series called The Brain Scoop. Now, where is our Anthropology/Archaeology Emily? Someone who is as comfortable among Inka khipus and Maori carvings as Emily is among stuffed raccoons and flesh-eating beetles? I think it would have to be someone who knows both about archaeology and anthropology, since the two benefit so much from being paired together. And they would need a good cameraman/producer/editor like Michael Aranda used to be for the Brain Scoop (and like the new guy, Tom McNamara, presumably will be now). It’s a shame that there isn’t an anthropological/archaeological equivalent to the dissections that are one of the best things about the Brain Scoop, but even without something like that, I think some great videos could still be made.

Who could it be? I don’t know. There are so many excellent archaeobloggers out there who I have a feeling would be great at vlogging as well, and I’ve noticed that Katie Kirby, Emily’s intern, has started regularly posting archaeology/anthropology-related stuff on the Brain Scoop’s facebook group, which is an interesting move. But, for now, as far as I’m aware, this niche has not yet been filled.

***

As for the future of this particular blog… I have so many thoughts about how my blog could be improved or could change that listing them here might actually help me think through them. And, of course, if you have any advice/opinions, do comment/tweet/email/facebook-message me, or even tell me in person.

The most urgent “problem” I feel like I should solve is my audience problem. I’ve always thought of this blog mostly as something that anyone could stumble upon and read and get excited about, without any previous knowledge of things archaeological. And, to some extent, that has been the case. But, since attempting to broaden my readership by joining twitter, I’ve actually acquired a fair few readers who do know a bit about archaeology, anthropology and museums. So, what should I do? Write some posts for one type  of audience and some for the other? Attempt to create monstrous hybrid posts, or posts that are like those children’s movies with topic references or innuendo included to amuse the parents? Or simply write what I feel like writing about, however I feel like writing it on that particular day?

Also–should I change the blog’s name? “Unearthing” is perhaps too vague/obvious, and I never say “Unearthing” when I talk about it, I just call it “the blog”, perhaps means that I secretly don’t like it. Perhaps I should go for something like “Jade Adze” or “Eccentric Flint“. Or is it too late in the game for me to do that? Would it just be way too confusing? Can I even change a url easily here on WordPress? I don’t know! I’m kind of afraid that, in my attempt to change the name, I’ll end up accidentally deleting the whole blog.

I’d also like to write more about anthropology. Because it’s cool.

One things is certain: I’ll definitely continue blogging, because I enjoy it, and I enjoy experimenting with it. Or, well–I do sometimes feel like I’m a bit of an impostor, not actually having that much excavation experience compared to many other bloggers, or indeed many, many other archaeologists or archaeology students–I do sometimes feel like one of those Victorian gentlemen who never left England but were arrogant enough to think they could write detailed ethnographic treaties about cultures they’d only read about in books. When I feel like this, I end up wondering whether, re: the future of this blog, I should just stop blogging altogether. But, in the end, it’s fun enough, and important enough, that I’ll probably keep going for a while yet.

 

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