Yet again I am sneaking in just before the end of the month with my response to the December questions raised by Doug for the Blogging Archaeology carnival leading up to the SAA meeting next year. Here is Doug’s prompt for the month:
The Good- what has been good about blogging. I know some people in their ‘why blogging’ posts mentioned creating networks and getting asked to talk on a subject. But take this to the next level, anything and everything positive about blogging, share your stories. You could even share what you hope blogging will do for you in the future.
The Bad- lots of people mention it feels like talking to brick wall sometimes when you blog. No one comments on posts or very few people do. What are your disappointments with blogging? What are your frustrations? What do you hate about blogging? What would you like to see changed about blogging?
The Ugly- I know Chris at RAS will mention the time he got fired for blogging about archaeology. It is your worst experiences with blogging- trolls, getting fired, etc.
The Good: This is a hard one to answer. This blog doesn’t generate a lot of comments or discussion, and it hasn’t ever led to a speaking gig or being asked to participate in something. It does give me a non-academic space to play with some ideas, a little corner to rant into when I feel like I am hitting a brick wall, and somewhere I can show off all my cool fieldwork pictures. Because, let’s face it, who doesn’t want to do that? I think the best moments for me have been when I have posted something personal or hard to articulate and got even just one reply that agrees with me, or encourages me. It helps knowing there are internet denizens out there who share my love of prehistory who also see links to their childhood reading, or who get how frustrating it can be to be pigeonholed as a methods or hard science person that doesn’t have anything useful to say about people in the past… I think as well that I wouldn’t tweet if I didn’t blog, and that twitter is by and large a wonderful place, where I get support, encouragement and random technical assistance from people all over the world that I wouldn’t otherwise ‘know’.
The Bad: Knowing where to draw the lines. This has always been a much more personal space than a professional one, but I am increasingly aware that prospective employers might look at it when considering me for roles. I’ve thought that perhaps it just should quietly disappear someday… I never know how much of myself I feel safe putting here. I’ve alluded in the past that I struggle a bit with mental health stuff at times, and that the blog tends to go quiet at those times because all I want to do is pour out all of the stuff… but that wouldn’t really be OK. I also struggle a bit with expressing my ideas here in a wider sense. I sometimes come back from conferences both elated and inspired but also deeply concerned with the future of what it is that we, as a discipline, do. But I’m early in my career (if indeed I ever develop one!) and I don’t want to put anyone’s nose out of joint. I wish I could be my bolshy 15 year old self at times, and demand that the world takes me as is, but at some point I got nervous about that.
The Ugly: Blogging can be a difficult place for archaeologists – horror stories about loony commenters with axes to grind, ancient aliens nuts, druids…. thankfully I’ve never had to deal with that, perhaps because I don’t seek to have any sort of ‘authoritative’ voice on here. I’ve also largely avoided the problems a lot of women seem to encounter… the only ugly moments have been realising when posting about feminism, that some of my friends are less than enlightened, which is a painful truth. Work seem blissfully ignorant of social media in general, which I actually think is a pity – I’ve tried to drum up interest for things like the Day of Archaeology, or using blogs as teaching tools, to be largely met with bemused looks. I know my students have found this by googling me, and that’s kinda cool, even if it contributes to the feeling of the need for self-editing mentioned above. So I think I get off pretty damned lucky on this front.