Starting to Reflect on 5 Years of Blogging

Next year, in April, this blog turns 6. So by then, I’ll have been blogging for five years. So there are children who are going to kindergarten who have never lived in a world without my blog. Or, in statement more appropriate for the day, my blog has run for longer than Barak Obama has been President. In our fast paced, new media world, five years is a long time. In my academic world, however, five years is not a very long time particularly in the humanities. For example, the manuscript for our volume dedicated to the survey we conducted at the site of Pyla-Koutsopetria has existed in some form for close to 5 years and still has not seen publication.

The reason I’m musing on the life of my blog is that I’ve begun to think about what I can do with my 5 years worth of blogging experience. I feel like I should mark this in some way, and I have begun to think about producing some kind of traditional publication reflecting my experiences blogging archaeology. The problem is, of course, translating my experiences to a contribution to the large and growing scholarly discourse on social media, new forms of publication, and new methods for documenting and analyzing research. Part of me wants to write an reflective essay that eschews the limitations and requirements of academic writing, but another part of my wants to put my experiences in a broader and more rigorous academic context.

1. Research Transparency. I wonder what impact increased research transparency has on the academic discourse. Blogging has always been a way for me to make my “creative process” (such as it is) visible to a wider audience.  Is there a value to letting people see the man behind the curtain and is this kind of transparency significant across academic life in general? In other words, is my transparency (albeit of a studied kind) significant for how scholars read academic production more broadly?

2. New Forms of Publication. Blogs exist in the uneasy place between the formal standards of academic publication and the more spontaneous social media. As formal publication standards adapt to new media and methods associated with digital publication and social media becomes increasingly fluid and informal, the middle ground of the blog is increasingly emptied of its place in the publishing landscape. It can be more spontaneous than studied, more individual than collective, and more austere than elaborate, but I wonder whether this is enough to keep the practice vital into the second decade of the 21st century?  

3. New Forms of Audience. One of the key aspects of digital publication is the ease with which audience behavior can be tracked. Statistics make our readers more visible than ever, but in the spontaneous world of digital publication, they also tempt us to respond to reader and viewer statistics in ways that a previous generation of content providers (in an academic realm) could push into the background. There have been days when I sat at my computer wondering what I should write about and knowing that I need to provide content to my blog in order to keep my reader’s attention. Is this a good thing? 

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