It’s been a strange year for blogging. On the one hand, it feels like the blog is more of an outdated platform than ever before. Social media to occupy the center of our online consciousness more than ever before as the COVID pandemic has pushed us to engage with our professional colleagues in new ways, to find digital opportunities to defy social distancing restriction, and to navigate the high speed news cycle. Frankly, who has time to find much less read blogs which more and more feel like clunky and anti-social hermitage in comparison to the riotous conviviality of Twitter and Facebook.
On the other hand, it is clear that people still read my blog. In fact, I’ve had more positive and encouraging comments about my blog this year than any of the past few. Moreover, it continues to get around 70 page views per day, which is more or less consistent with the last five years, but down for the more heady days of 2013, 2014, and 2015 when the blog averaged over 100. Most of the traffic come from search engines, as one would expect, but social media send a significant number of referrals my way. It would appear that the “blog list” is probably dead with only the faintest trickle of referrals from this once central hub for directing traffic on the internet. As always, I know when David Meadows links to my blog from Rogue Classicism.
I’ve posted 257 times this year (including this post) and will likely post something on tomorrow and Thursday. This makes this year the second busiest year on record (while I’ve been blogging since 2007 (and you can read my past posts on The Archive). This year will be the first year that I have written more than 200,000 words for the blog and averaged about 780 words per post. This is significant to me mostly because I started this blog, in part, as a way to encourage my own writing habit as well as to make the inner workings of academic production more visible. In some ways, having readers was then a bit secondary to my own desire to present my academic life in a bit more public way.
Finally, here are the 12 most popular blog posts that I’ve written this year. I decided that a post had to get at least .5 of a view per day to be eligible for the list and at least 50 page views total.
1. Good Practice in Survey Archaeology
2. Writing Clearly
3. COVID in North Dakota as Structural Violence
4. Online in a Hurry
5. A Quick Note on Creating a Podcast Lecture
6. Performative Informality in Archaeology
7. Genealogy of Mediterranean Survey Archaeology
8. Plague and Famine in Late Antiquity and Byzantium
9. Archaeology without Antiquity
10. Some More ASOR Books Available as Open Access
11. Excavations at Corinth in Hesperia
12. The Mystery of the Missing Building.
I like this list in part because I think it embodies the range of topics that I tend to write about on my blog. 5 of the 12 are engagements with recent published scholarship (1, 6, 7, 9, 11); 2 of the 12 reflect my situation here in Grand Forks, North Dakota (3, 12); two are about teaching (4 and 5); 1 is about academic life (2); 1 is about my work as an editor and publisher (10); and 1 is about my own scholarship (8). If I were to extend this list to the top 25 most read posts, the pattern would be largely the same.
As readers of this blog know, I worry a good bit about blogging particularly in an increasingly toxic online environment. Some of this is the standard kind of worry that we all face as academics: “what if I’m just writing into the void?” and “what if my blog is keeping from writing proper, substantive, and significant scholarship?”
Some of this is the typical worry about doing anything online: “what if someone is offended by what I write?”, “what if I’m attacked by trolls?”, and “what if I say something that is wrong or hurtful?”
But most of my worry is that with a limited amount of time, energy, and attention in the world, the existence of my blog represents another mid-career, white, male, tenured, professional using his ill-gotten time and resources to influence scholarly and public conversation. My hope is that I continue to remember to amplify the voices of others (and their research) on my blog and it continues to be a place where I celebrate all the cool stuff happening in the world.
Along those lines, I was happy to see that the most clicked links on my blog were to WorldCat and JSTOR as well as academia.edu, doi.org, and HathiTrust. Of course, I also was happy to see links to The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota and North Dakota Quarterly being high on the list.
It would not offend me in the least if you found yourself coming to my blog mostly just to find more interesting, significant, worthwhile, and meaningful things to read elsewhere.
In any event, for everyone who has stopped by over the last 12 months (or 12 years!), thanks for reading and clicking and commenting and tweeting, facebookling, and sharing my posts. Despite my efforts to stop blogging, I probably won’t, but I hope that no one feels like this is just another thing that you should read.