Books by their Cover

You can’t open Facebook these days without seeing a profile picture superimposed with a French flag. A year ago, profile pictures had multicolored hues in support of equal marriage rights or gay marriage. At various times of year, social media profiles sport pink for breast cancer, mustaches for prostate cancer, or various other regular designs to demonstrate solidarity or sympathy with this or that cause. Invariably, there are columns that comment or complain about a particular practice, the uncritical and uncomplicated adoption of potentially fraught symbols, and the deleterious effects of “slacktivism.” Most worry that a changed profile picture will substitute for political or social action and superficial expressions of sympathy, solidarity, or awareness will replace genuine engagement with issues. These concerns are so pervasive that they constitute part of the discourse of representation on social media and are in no ways less hackneyed or superficial than the practice that they critique. 

Personal branding on social media is no less complicated than personal branding in any medium and criticizing its simplicity is, in itself, a failure to understand the complications associated with branding and interpretation of branding across various media in our image rich society. My November mustache might be ironic, it might show I’m participating in “Movember,” or it might be that I genuinely like how I look with a mustached lip. Or it might be all these things. Most of us recognize the ambiguities present in these simple personal branding exercises (and even relish the potential for an un-ironic mustache!) and even appreciate the earnestness of people’s efforts to celebrate a cause, negotiate the political landscape, or just to show preference for one brand over another.

When it comes to branding a larger enterprise, we are less tolerant of this kind of ambiguity. I’m waist deep in type-setting a new book from The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota right and beginning to think a bit about cover designs. I’ve been fortunate that my collaborators on this project have offered images and designs for the cover and these designs are all visually arresting. The book is titled The Bakken Goes Boom and it should appear early next year, but the cover design project represents another chapter in the larger Branding the Bakken project. From Alec Soth’s black-and-white images of the oil smeared worker to Sarah Christianson’s The Skogens’ bedroom window, images have dominated our apprehension of the Bakken boom. It is hardly surprising that my own work documenting workforce housing in the Bakken has generated over ten thousand of photographs and videos. 

The image-driven nature of our engagement with the Bakken means that selecting the cover of the first book-length academic study of the Bakken boom takes on particular significance. Each cover represents a different aspect of the Boom and a different point of emphasis in the book (as well as a different style). 

My co-editor Kyle Conway created an arresting cover image that shows a drill rig situated near his families property in Williston.

Bakken cover off center

Photographer Kyle Cassidy who has worked with our team in the Bakken and has a contribution in the volume offered several fantastic cover designs:

Bakken goes boom cover 1

Bakken goes boom cover 2

Bakken goes boom cover 3

Bakken goes boom cover 4

Bakken goes boom cover 5

Comments and feedback are appreciated!

Adventure in Podcasting: Season 2, Episode: 2: Domestic Space and a Very Special Guest

In the second episode of Season 2, Bill and Richard violate the spirit of Labor Day and get to work on recording a podcast.  It’s okay, because our special guest is Bev, Bill’s mother-in-law.  Since she’s from Australia, we can celebrate Labor Day in late winter, like they do in the southern hemisphere.  Our topic of discussion: the different houses we have lived in and how they shaped our daily lives in North America, Australia, and Greece.

Be sure to check out our sponsor this episode. Karl Jacob Skarstein’s The War with the Sioux from the Digital Press at the University of North Dakota

The podcast begins with a discussion of Queensland, Australia, and in particular the Queenslander, a house, traditionally built of timber, suitable for the hot climate of Australia.  We drift into a discussion of the American Ranch style house, with an oblique nod to the Four-square.  Perhaps you should buy a Field Guide to American Houses.  You can find a typology on the web, of course.

Don’t forget to learn about the Hills Hoist.  And the awesome variety of Australian Pubs.

We referenced Greek Houses and Kostis Kourelis

Australian Place we reference:  Queensland, Townsville, someplace called Beero.  Townsville is also home to these superheroes.

It’s not Caraheard without a reference to mancamps in the Bakken, or their abandonment as the oil boom turns down.

Toilet water does not drain counterclockwise in Australia.  Quit asking.

Unprecedented Blog Hiatus

My first month back from sabbatical has been full of bad habits. I’m reading more than I’m writing. I’m using daily tasks (email, reading for class, blogging, grading, service, tilting at windmills) to hide from long term projects. And, while I’ve taken steps to keep my stress level manageable, I’ve slowly felt the icy tendrils of stress creeping into my day-to-day life.

So, I’m going to take a week off from regular blogging, and focus my morning “therapy writing” on a book project that I’m involved in relating to the Atari dig in Alamogordo, New Mexico. I’m not sure that we can meet a very ambitious writing deadline, but I’m going to let my writing for this project take over the blog for the next week.

Here is what I need to write about:

1. Archaeology of the Contemporary World (4000 words). Was the Atari dig archaeology? Is this even a relevant question? This is the way to reflect on a big picture view of archaeology of the contemporary world. 

2. Digging the Modern: A CRM Perspective (4000 words). The challenges associated with dealing with modern sites. The challenges of dealing with the landfill. 

3. Technical Report on Excavations (8000 words). This has been drafted. It’s a technical description of what we documented during the excavation.

4. Between Artifacts and Commodities (4000 words). I’d like to think through more thoroughly the issue of whether it was ethical to sell the Atari games on auction and reflect on how archaeology of the contemporary world creates a new, hyper abundant class of artifacts. I’ve penned some vague ideas here.

5. Excavating Innocence (4000). I’d like to riff on Laurie Wilkie’s remarkable book: The Lost Boys of Zeta Psi (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010) when considering the larger meaning of excavating an urban legend in Alamogordo. I played with some of the ideas in relation to the Zak Penn documentary here

Obviously, I’m not going to be able to write all of this in one week, but if I can chip away at some of these ideas this week during my designated blogging time, then maybe I can keep the dreaded “business” at bay.

So I apologize to my regular readers who may find this entire Atari Excavation business a bit tedious, and promise that I have other things to blog about when I get some of this Atari book on the page.

A Literary Journal in the Digital Age

This afternoon we have our first North Dakota Quarterly meeting of the year. NDQ is a small, proud, and once influential literary journal published at the University of North Dakota. For over a century, the Quarterly has appeared four times (or somewhat less) per year filled with poetry, fiction, and commentary. The last few years, however, have not been particularly kind to NDQ. It has lost subscribers, lost its longtime editor, and somehow missed out on the digital era. As a result, support from the University of North Dakota, which remains vital for its survival, has wavered, and a new editorial board of which I’m a part has a mandate to save the journal.

Cropped ndq image string vector Color

My contribution to the “Save NDQ” project focuses on helping the journal find its way in the digital world. In fact, I’m giving a little presentation on a few possible digital initiatives. As per my usual practice, I’m going to use my blog to get my thoughts together.

1. Digital Legacy. One of the first things that NDQ must address is its legacy. NDQ has over 400 issues and thousands of pages of content and almost none of this is available online (other than the first 20 or so issues digitized as part of the Google Books project) even now that our issues are born digital.

As part of bringing NDQ’s legacy to the digital era, we are going to start a series of thematic reprints of public domain content and make them available on both paper and in digital forms (in collaboration The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota!). In other words, we’re going to use digital media to organize and celebrate the legacy of NDQ in new ways.

For issues that remain under copyright, we’re in a unique bind. Because NDQ published for year without author contracts, and the most recent author contracts limited the republication of individual submissions to NDQ, we are going to have problems producing thematic reprints for volumes still under copyright. My gut feeling is that for articles published before 1950, we might be safe doing some thematic reprints, but for more recent content, we probably need to simply release digital copies of the entire volumes.

We will also contact Jstor to see if they are interested in distributing NDQ, but we might also look to other online depositories to ensure that digital NDQ circulates as widely as possible.

2. Beyond Paper. As readers of this blog know, I’m always willing to experiment with the newest in new media (well, not the newest, but once it becomes a bit tired, I’m all in!). I even joined Ello. Part of what we need to do with NDQ is to bolster its presence online through the new media. We will unveil a new website in the coming weeks, and, hopefully, this allows us to engage with timely matters in a more efficient way. 

We’re also in the exploration stages of a series of Podcasts, an Instagram account, and even some low-key (gasp) e-marketing (like a regular email newsletter or even a subscription drive?).

At times, NDQ feels like it exists in a sepia-toned bubble, but, in fact, the Quarterly serves as a filter. We get hundreds of submissions for each volume, and we publish only the most interesting and exciting each quarter. This filtering function is all the more important in the 21st century, where the abundance of new and traditional media choices for the educated reader is almost overwhelming. And we think that our editors, readers, and supporters could collaborate in filtering the the wild world of the web. So, I’d like to introduce a quarterly NDQ list of the best things to read both on the web and on paper. I know there is a good bit of competition in this field, but I also know that our contributors, readers, friends, and colleagues are a formidable filter. I think a quarterly email with our favorite reads could become a complement to the print version of the Quarterly. We also think that this is a great way to build bridges between the various quality publications both online and in print that our editors, contributors, and subscribers enjoy.

Podcasts offer another way to expand the audience for NDQ. Reading is great, but the amount of hours in a day never allow for as much time for thought-provoking engagement with quality media as anyone would like. I am always surprised by the number of folks I know who listen regularly to podcasts. If journals like NDQ, were the quality popular media of their day, then perhaps podcasts fill that gap now?

Instagram, Vine, and Snapchat (!?). I mean, seriously? Do these media have potential? Poems on Snapchat? Cover art on Instagram? I don’t even know what we could do with Vine, but these light-weight media options exist and are popular and have a tremendous reach. They’re ripe for experiment.

3. Transmedia. As much as I can imagine NDQ using new media to extend its reach, I can also imagine us engaging new media in different, critical ways. For example, I’d love to see NDQ offer a critical take on music. Fortunately, YouTube, Vimeo, and streaming services like Spotify make it easy to integrate music and text online.

My colleague Sharon Carson, also on the editorial board at NDQ, is committed to renewing the genre of book review, I wonder if complementing that should be an effort to revitalize the genre of music review?

Even the most rudimentary blog platform now allows for us to integrate video and and photography and take the genre of review from a cross media exercise to a transmedia encounter where art, music, video, and text share the same space and blur the line between viewer, listener, and reader. 

4. Paper. All this is not to marginalize the tradition of paper publication at NDQ. In fact, by exploring digital media while remaining committed to paper, we recognize the unique character of paper, printing, layout, fonts, and all the other craft elements of traditional publication that our growing addiction to web reading and digital publication has gradually eroded. By crossing media boundaries, we are compelled to consider more carefully what makes print unique and to celebrate it.

Weeks of Wonder

If you’re a big Bill Caraher fan (and if you read this blog then I’m assuming that you find me vaguely amusing or, at very least, share some of my interests), then there is plenty to keep you entertained this week.

Tomorrow, as you probably know, is the 7th annual Cyprus Research Fund lecture. It’ll feature Andrew Reinhard, Raiford Guins, Richard Rothaus, and Bret Weber and we’ll talk about the excavation of Atari games in Alamogordo, New Mexico last year, have a viewing of the documentary Atari: Game Over, and discuss the archaeology of the contemporary western United States more broadly. Festivities start at 3:30 with some vintage Atari games set up to be played. To get an idea of the kind of thing that’ll likely come up check out Andrew’s blog, Raiford’s blog (especially note his time spent as a research fellow at the Strong Museum of Play in Rochester!), and Richard’s blog.

If you can’t make it to the event, do not fear! You can watch the documentary for free here (or get it on The Netflix) and then watch our round table event starting around 5 pm for free on our live stream here.

For a preview of our discussions check out the most recent Caraheard podcasts here.

If you can’t make the Cyprus Research Fund lecture, maybe you can hang out with some of the North Dakota Man Camp Project in Ellendale next weekend?

The great folks with the Man Camp Dialogues, The Institute for Heritage Renewal, and The Ellendale Historic Opera House, and the North Dakota Humanities Council sponsored our event on Friday. If the last opportunity to present our work in a free-flowing dialogue is any indication, this will be a rewarding evening for everyone involved.

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If you’re not that into the archaeology of the contemporary world and aren’t based in North Dakota (which I suppose is possible), you can check out a different version of my dog-and-pony show at the Mary Jaharis Center at the Hellenic College Holy Cross in Brookline, Massachusetts on April 18th where I will attend their annual Graduate Student Conference on Byzantine Studies and participate on a panel with some real luminaries in our field to discuss Byzantium in the Public Sphere. I’ve already blogged a bit about this last week.

So, if I’m a bit scarce on the ole blog here for the next couple days, I hope you’ll understand! 

Byzantium and the Public Sphere

In a couple of weeks, I head back east to the Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture at the Hellenic College Holy Cross to be on a panel of scholars who “use traditional and digital means to build a broader audience for the field inside and outside of the academy.” I suspect my blog caught their attention or a series of posts a couple of years ago on marketing my Byzantine history class to unsuspecting undergraduates. 

In these blog posts, I complained that the place of Byzantium in most “master narratives” presented to college students, limits how we can present the Byzantine Empire to an unfamiliar audience on campus. Some of these approaches are useful. In my very traditional history department, Byzantine history serves as another way to complicate what the students understand to be “the Western tradition.” To simplify this discussion (as I would present it to undergraduates unfamiliar with Byzantium), the Byzantine world has a Western pedigree: it represented the persistence of the Roman Empire, it was ruled and populated by “people of the book” (Jews, Christian, and Muslims), and it partook in familiar practices that ranged from Hellenic philosophy, to architecture, forms of literature, and political history. At my lowest points, I found myself saying: “Don’t worry, it will be far more familiar than the world of Tolkien or George R.R. Martin!” (Putting aside that these worlds were made up and featured, you know, dragons). In my best moments, I found that I could channel my inner Anthony Kaldellis

Appeals to familiarity, of course, only serve to highlight the things about Byzantium that are utterly unfamiliar. On a short flight this past month, I read over Averill Cameron’s slim volume titled Byzantine Matters. The book provides a useful, if incomplete view of trends in the field over the author’s influential career (or since the publication of Ostrogorsky’s History of the Byzantine State in 1969. More than that, her book is accessible and generally indicates some profitable lines of inquiry that challenge the traditional view of Byzantium as a theocratic despotism satisfied to simmer gently beneath the ponderous weight of Orthodox uniformity. This approach not only offers a way to open up Byzantium to questions that are profoundly Western (e.g. what was the relationship between church and state?), but also to urge students to see the study of Byzantium as a way to critique Orientalism and its view of unchanging, almost unthinking traditionalism. This may be a hook to ensure that “Byzantium belongs to all of us, and … belongs to mainstream history.” Lest we imagine that Cameron went all populist on us, she also calls for renewed attention to Byzantine religious writing (sermons, theological treatises, et c.) as works of literature. Nothing is likely to broaden the appeal of Byzantium more than combining the study of literature, with all its theoretical pretensions, with the study of theological texts which were probably bored the vast majority of the Byzantine world. That being said, this suggestion does follow her overarching argument for hidden complexity in the Byzantium world.

I don’t think that I was invited to this panel to share my penetrating understanding of Byzantine historiography, however. 

I think I’ll try to inject a few observations.

1. Blogging Byzantium. Over the last 10 years or so, there has been a constant presence of Byzantine bloggers on the web. In most cases, these blogs are pretty traditional, text-driven places. None of us have truly embraced the potential of social and new media although a few of the blogs feature videos from time to time.

There are a few exceptions. For example, there is Lars Brownworth’s 12 Rulers of Byzantium which started as a podcast and has expanded into a media empire featuring videos and a book. The Cry for Byzantium Twitter feed of Alexius I Comnenus pushes Byzantium into the social media sphere. The /r/Byzantine page on Reddit appears to be thriving.

The typical Byzantine Blogger, however, is pretty textual with the occasional image of a domed church or a map. There are, of course, a few panoramic views of Byzantine churches and a mishmash of mostly outdated efforts to create interactive maps of Constantinople or whatever. Generally speaking, scholars of Byzantium have stayed on the sideline of recent trends to create a more dynamic web. These kinds of projects require significant funding and, perhaps more importantly, a clearly-defined audience.

2. Byzantine Archaeology as World Archaeology. I need to work this into a fuller post at some point in the near future, but one observation that my buddy Kostis Kourelis made a few years back is that a meaningful subset of Byzantine archaeologists also do archaeology in their local communities. What brought this to mind was David Pettegrew’s recent work on mapping 19th century Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and the Greek community there. Kostis has been involved in my North Dakota Man Camp Project and various initiatives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania where he teaches. The willingness of archaeologists of the Byzantine world to engage in the archaeology of their local communities hints that Byzantinists are not as disengaged as our scholarly output might suggest. In fact, it suggests that some of the trends in Byzantine archaeology resonate with issues prevalent in world archaeology. For a discipline that almost takes a perverse pride in its idiosyncratic conventions, this is a significant revelation and offers hope for Byzantinists everywhere that our skills and professional interests can have a direct impact on local communities in North America.

3. Mash-Up and Convergence. Finally, I’ve been thinking a bit about how our scholarly production – books and articles – rarely extend beyond their academic audiences and rarely enjoy lives outside of their final, published copies. The divergence between academic works and popular books could not be more stark as influential popular books often feed a growing participatory community engaged in fan fiction, form the basis for transmedia productions like films and video games, and spawn communities of commentators and critics. George R.R. Martin’s mostly-depraved Game of Thrones series of books and TV series is just the most recent and perhaps most visible example.

As Byzantinists contemplate engaging the public sphere more fully, it might behoove us to consider the changing the changing state of popular media. How do we ensure that our books and articles become living, media entities that go beyond their utility to a small group of scholars? Do we push to make our work available in open access? Do we work harder to contribute to linked-data practices? How does our work interact or intersect with the larger media universe? 

To my mind, this is not simply about making our work known to more people, but making it more accessible to audiences who think about media in new and more dynamic ways. Books and articles are more than just forms of scholarly communication or instruments designed to get tenure, but simply aspects of an increasingly dynamic media universe that extends beyond the life of a publication, its physical or digital form, and goals of the academic author. How can Byzantine studies engage this world?

Adventures in Podcasting, Radio, and Dramatic Readings

This is a pretty exciting day at Archaeology of the Mediterranean World Headquarters. 

My colleague, Richard Rothaus and I are pleased to release the first episode of our new podcasting adventure:

We are both pretty happy with the results, although we’ll certainly refine the sound quality and the flow of our banter a bit as we move forward. The current plan is to release a few podcasts a month and once we have a little gaggle of them, we’ll push them to iTunes and some other services. 

Here are the show notes from our first podcast:

Bill’s Blog: https://mediterraneanworld.wordpress.com/
Richard’s Blog: http://www.whitewashedtomb.com/ and http://www.demandmenothing.com/

Timothy Gregory: http://history.osu.edu/directory/Gregory4 
Ohio State Excavations at Isthmia: http://isthmia.osu.edu/ 
Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey (EKAS): http://www.ascsa.edu.gr/index.php/publications/hesperia/article/75/4/453-523

Mt. Oneion in the Corinthia: http://www.ascsa.edu.gr/index.php/publications/hesperia/article/75/3/327-356

Rough Cilicia Archaeological Survey Project: http://opencontext.org/projects/295B5BF4-0F44-4698-80CD-7A39CB6F133D
Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project: http://opencontext.org/projects/3F6DCD13-A476-488E-ED10-47D25513FCB2

Kostis Kourelis, “Byzantium and the Avant-Garde: Excavations at Corinth, 1920s-1930s”: http://www.ascsa.edu.gr/index.php/publications/hesperia/article/76/2/391-442

But wait, there’s more!

Bret Weber, Richard Rothaus, and I got some great press coverage by Emily Guerin from Inside Energy. We really happy with how this sounded. I’m a bit embarrassed about how excited I got when we pulled into one of our favorite workforce housing sites:

And because you read this blog regularly, you are eligible for a very special bonus track! 

Yesterday, my buddy Dimitri Nakassis posted a link to a brilliantly bizarre blog post that compared the Archaeological Institute of America (aka Archaeology in America) to the Islamic State. The post was so remarkable that I decided to perform a dramatic reading. I don’t do this very often, folks. What’s better is that this dramatic reading will be part of a (only slightly) larger project conjured by Andrew Reinhard. It’s going to be epic. You can download my reading of this post for a limited time here.

What if I Recorded a Podcast?

Some time in April (April is beyond the time I can imagine right now), I’ve been asked to contribute to a roundtable on Byzantium in the Public Sphere. More on this in the near future, but the prospect of contributing to a roundtable with some luminaries in the field has me mildly terrified. 

It also pushed me to think about what I do to make my scholarship and interest accessible to a wider public. This was part of the point this blogging enterprise when I started. As I thought about this, I felt drawn back to an idea pitched to be by Richard Rothaus months (maybe years?) ago: we should record a podcast. For a variety of reasons, I ignored it at the time. Then Andrew Reinhard produced a couple podcasts. These were so iconoclastic that, like MC5’s Kick Out the Jams, they are best admired from a safe distance.

I also had to good fortune to meet and spend some time with Emily Guerin who is a radio reporter for Inside Energy and worked on a story featuring me and Bret Weber out in the Bakken oil patch. We spent some time talking about podcasts, and I had to admit to rarely listening to them except, of course, the excellent Professor Footnote, which was more like radio theater than what I envisioned a podcast to be. But what did I know? 

Over the last few weeks, I started listening to podcasts largely because I got a little injury from running around the new year, and cut back on my mileage and intensity. As a result, I went from listening to music to listening to podcasts. Since one of my side interests on the web is technology websites – particular those related the cult of Mac, I started to listen to Mac related podcasts using Marco Arment’s lovely Overcast application on my phone. I was immediately struck by the informality of the podcasts produced by John Gruber, Marco Arment, and Jason Snell. These are not only good and more or less interesting podcasts, they are also conversational and, at least to casual listener, unstructured.

Well, anyone who has ever hung out with me for even a little bit (or read this blog) knows that I love unstructured, and it just so happens that Richard Rothaus is not afraid of the lack of structure either. So, sometime soon, we’ll very quietly release a pilot (or a first draft) of a podcast. We don’t have a name for it. We don’t have guests (at least right now). And we don’t really have a plan (ok, we have a bit of a plan). 

Anyway, since I’m traveling today, I thought I’d drop this little tidbit of news and see what people think. I think it is possible that people might enjoy a podcast talking about archaeology, late antiquity, the Mediterranean world, academia, and “things that Richard is interested in” (which is a topic so vast that I can’t even start to summarize it here). The hope is that we can find in conversation the hooks that bring an audience to Byzantium (broadly construed) or at least to an interest in the past.

In our test run last Sunday, we discovered that we both had good stories about things we did to make our advisor, Tim Gregory, mad. So that was fun. Hopefully, there is more to it than that. With any luck we’ll premiere this project in the next week or so, if we can master the technologies and editing necessary to sound both unstructured and polished. 

Stay tuned!

Booking at the Speed of Blog

This week, I’ve spent time doing two things (let’s say). One is reading Hartmut Rosa’s recent book on acceleration. The other thing is working on the final edits of the next book from the Digital Press at the University of North Dakota, Visions of Substance.

Visions of Substance began its life about 15 months ago as a series of blog posts on my blog in a series called “3D Thursday.” The response to these posts was really good, with a few of the posts ranking among the most frequently viewed on my blog and attracting thousands of page views and a few academic citations to boot. I was pleased by how easy it was to publish substantial blog posts and to get ideas and practices, particularly in the fast moving area of 3D imaging in field archaeology.

 

Visions of Substance Cover

My goal as a publisher was to move this content into a book form. To do this, we invited the contributors to revise their papers and provide better quality images when necessary. Those inclined can see their work move from from the realm of the blog to the less ephemeral world of a digital and bound book.

This process was interesting to me for a number of reasons. First off, my hope is that the blog to book process continues the process of expanding the boundaries of “scholarly communication” to include the less formal space of the blog. Since the early days of my blog, I have made a little show of migrating it to a “paper ready format” as a light-hearted gesture in this general direction. I still don’t have the nerve to actually count my blog as part of my academic output, but it’s hard not to see it as part of my scholarly identity.

I also have become more and more interested in the publication process. I’ve long admired the Journal of Roman Archaeology for its austere and – let’s say – uneven editing; the spirit of the journal is captured beautifully in their website. I imagined it as a model of publishing efficiency as it dispensed with even the most basic formatting cues beyond footnotes, page numbers, and titles. My second love, has long been Hesperia, which subjects its authors to an arduous editorial process, exacting standards, and a good bit of design swagger in its presentation. Hesperia is – for an academic journal – sexy and it knows it. As some new to publishing, I realized that nothing I did would come close to Hesperia, but I could approximate a Journal of Roman Archaeology vibe. In fact, I think I could even do a tiny bit better than the JRA without succumbing to the need to actually take design seriously. This means that a respected academic template already exists for efficient publication with relatively little polish.

A colleague and I were chatting yesterday and we both noted how, in some point over the last half century, the correspondence or note has vanished as an academic genre. I recall Hesperia having published short epigraphic articles maybe a decade ago and I certain cite a few short notes in my own work, but as far as I can tell, few journals in the humanities continue to publish contributions under, say, 8,000 words. An editor once told me that it was because short articles took every bit as long as long articles to lay-out and edit, so it was more efficient to have 5 long articles rather than, say, 4 shorter notes and 3 longer articles. Book reviews continue to appear because, generally speaking, they are less editorially intensive (that is, they less editorial contact with authors and peer reviewers). I wonder if we can create a model for these think a streamlined publication flow that emphasizes public peer review through a blog like interface, and making the publication of notes no more intensive than a book review.

I’ve been thinking about the influence of speed lately. To return to Harmut Rosa’s book, he argues – and I’m simplifying greatly here – that acceleration and speed in late modernity have led significant and recognizable social change. (For a much better consideration of Rosa’s work in this context go here.) He is not the first to make these arguments, but he does summarize a vast swath of recent scholarship on the topic (and I’ll write more about this soon) and identifies the acceleration of the late modern world as the key instrument to social transformation. Among the many direct effects of speed, for Rosa and others, is its tendency to collapse space and distance, and, I might add, promote the creation of spontaneous communities around events that might otherwise exist in physical or intellectual isolation.

To apply it to our case here, Rosa’s concept of social acceleration explains how rapid publication has the potential for creating a sense of scholarly immediacy in print publications that we usually reserve for, say, the communal experience of academic conferences. Streamlined publishing from blog to book preserves some of the rawness of conference presentation (or blog post) while formalizing what might otherwise be ephemeral, informal interaction between academics. So as I work toward booking at the speed of blog, I have become increasingly interested in how publishing old-style, paper (or for that matter digital books) quickly based on academic ephemeral could make social and intellectual ties between academics more transparent and to localize, even if it’s just on a page, the liquidity intrinsic in the modern academy.

Tis the Season

Every year I have readers asking me whether the Archaeology of the Mediterranean World team can help with a last minute holiday gift.

Every year, I assure them that the Archaeology of the Mediterranean World Archive is the perfect gift for anyone who wants to relive and savor the glory that is the Archaeology of the Mediterranean World Blog on luxurious paper. Volume 5 of The Archive is now available in all of its digital glory. It is mostly free of obfuscating mark-up and html artifacts and perfectly ready for printing or binding at the book binder of your choice. I’d recommend binding it in soft, Corinthian leather. (Although I’d actually recommend against binding it, and instead printing it on 12.375 x 12.375 card stock and fitting it into a nice box).

Remember that this is one of the few blogs that produces a printable archive every, single year. By proudly displaying this in your home, you place yourself both at the cutting edge of blog-to-book workflow, but also in a small group of people who can even pretend to know “what I’m on about.” 

This year The Archive is set in Akzidenz-Grotesk font (the cover pages are in Futura) and runs to over 700 pages. Lest you doubt the value of such a spectacular Christmas gift, I only need to remind you that these are 700 pages that might have been directed toward book projects, scholarly articles, teaching North Dakota’s next generation of bloggers, properly completing university mandate paperwork, or letters to the editor of the local newspaper. It runs to well over 140,000 words.

Finally, I broke with tradition this year and went with square pages (8.5 x 8.5, but easily expanded to 12.375 to 12.375) because I think of my work more as a concept album than a cohesive codex. In keeping with the them, I also created a cover because the Mighty Milo needs to be out front in any creative undertaking in this household. 

I have decided to exclude other people’s posts (o.p.p.) from this archive, in part, because some will appear in a separate, better edited volume, and because it would be too hard to explain to other people why I prepare an annual archive. I have also followed past practices and left out all of the images. It is just easier this way and I figured that it would fuel my readers imagination as they attempted to visualize whatever it was that I was talking about.

Blog Archive Volume 5 pdf

For this feeling nostalgic, copies of Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, and Volume 4 are still available.

Happy Holidays!!