When I first started blogging, I had this idea that I my blog would somehow make my research more accessible to the average web surfer. I still believe that this is a worthwhile pursuit, but I expect that I get very few “average non-academic web denizens” stopping by my blog.
This worries me sometimes because I get concerned that recently “public scholarship” in its eagerness to capture the “attention economy” (see Andrew Henry’s recent Pasts Imperfect on this) has embraced a pattern of surfing the latest media maelstrom or adopted click-bait-esque approaches capturing bored social media scrollers. This isn’t bad, in and of itself, and if leveraging what I might playfully call the “outrage economy,” works to draw readers into more sustained and subtle conversations about the past, then I’m all for it. In fact, being able to write across multiple registers from the outraged to the journalistic and academic is a brilliant skill that we ought to cultivate as a key component of effective activism.
Unfortunately, I’m not always convinced that the skill of writing across genres and registers always supports a more tolerant and magnanimous view of the world. In fact, it seems like there is a certain tendency for even the most sober minded academics to be dragged down into the muck of pedantic bickering, arguments resting on supposed expertise, and even the occasional ad hominem attack. Worse still, academics get drawn into the politically fraught (and in most cases unnecessary and vaguely colonialist) game of myth-busting where they seek to attack popular misconceptions not to produce a more informed audience, in general, but to advance their own personal brand or, at very least, their own version of expertise (typically academic).
I can’t help feeling a bit depressed by all this and it has made me sour a bit on blogging. Of course, I recognize that at its best, academic blogging (and our presence on social media and podcasts and youtubling and the like) can create a space where new forms of community an emerge and these forms of community operating outside of the traditional institutional, academic, and political constraints can give voice to marginalized and underrepresented voices. In some ways, academic blogging, social media, newsletters, YouTubes, and podcasts —as well as the growing number of scholar-led presses and radical experiments in publishing (e.g. Epoiesen) — offers a response to the ongoing collapse of the humanities in higher education in the US and a positive alternative to those eager to burn down the institutional frameworks that have supported the existing system of academic knowledge making. Radical alternatives already exist, the bar to entry is low, the potential for fundamentally new forms of public and scholarly conversation appears high.
This motivates me to keep writing my blog for another year even as the number of readers and page views have continued to decline and waters the surrounding public conversation become murkier and more toxic.
Last year, I wrote around 250 posts and 190,000 words on the ole blog (and averaged about 750 words per post). The number of posts is more or less average, but the number of words per post is the second highest over the last decade.
Of the top 500 posts saw about 12,000 individual visits (and the homepage with the most recent post saw 4800 visits).
The most visited pages from 2021 (per day) were:
- Corinth Excavations, Preliminary Reports, and Time
- Citation Politics and Practices
- American History or Medieval History
- Archaeology of Temperature
- Citational Politics: Citing Dissertations
- Teaching Tuesday: The Wesley College Documentation Project as Radical Pedagogy
- Teaching Thursday: Ungrading
- Atlantis, Expertise, and Utopia
- Music Monday: Sun Ra, Pseudoarchaeoogy, and Atlantis
- Two Draft Articles on Sun Ra
- Pilgrimage CHAT: Walking the Grand Forks Greenway
- Summer Reading List 2021
- Why Those Who Shovel are Silent
- Methods for an Archaeology of the Contemporary World
- Book By Its Cover: Deserted Villages
Amid this group of 15 posts, there were five posts from past years that maintained spots in the top 20 most viewed posts:
- Assemblages (1/30/2017)
- Roman Temples and Christian Churches (10/11/2017)
- Sun Ra, Papyrus, and Ancient Aliens (11/11/2020)
- Quick Note on Creating a Podcast Lecture (3/12/2020)
- Disciplinary Societies and Societies of Control (10/24/2018)
Maybe there’s something on these lists that interests you or that you missed if you’re a regular reader.
I can imagine that these posts are a lot of work. a big thank you! I look forward to them, with my morning coffee. gets the brain moving for the day.
Bill – just to let you know I am a non academic dilettante and find your blog great and thought provoking. So for me, you blog mission is accomplished. I also relate to your views on the ‘outrage’ economy – I am sure you are awre of the follwoing
– Centre for Humane Technology (Tristan Harris/Social Dilemma) – The Consilience Project (Daniel Schmatenberger) – Heterodox Academy (academics and students supporting heterodoxy in situ) – Braver Angels (depolarising by learning to engage without outrage!) – The Convivial Society (expositions of Ivan Illich and Jacque Ellul – great! Have a good year and keep up the great work!
On Mon, 27 Dec 2021 at 10:23 pm, Archaeology of the Mediterranean World wrote:
> Bill Caraher posted: “When I first started blogging, I had this idea that > I my blog would somehow make my research more accessible to the average web > surfer. I still believe that this is a worthwhile pursuit, but I expect > that I get very few “average non-academic web den” >