by Bernard K. Means, Project Director
The 2014 Society for American Archaeology annual meeting in Austin, Texas, will feature a Blogging in Archaeology Session. As part of this Doug Rocks-Macqueen of Doug’s Archaeology is posting questions each month (details here). My answers two the first two are below.
Why blogging? – Why did you, or if it was a group- the group, start a blog?
I started blogging after establishing the Virtual Curation Laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University in August 2011. This was done at the behest of one of my then students, Victoria Valentine, who was a Mass Communications major and an anthropology minor. She rightly felt that blogging would be an effective mechanism for promoting the fact that we exist and highlight the range of activities that we were doing in the lab in terms of 3D scanning artifacts. The blog was designed to track our progress as we tested the suitability of a NextEngine Desktop 3D scanner for creating virtual models of archaeological materials as part of Department of Defense Legacy Program funded project. We took advantage also of our location in an area rich with nationally known historic heritage locations, such as Mount Vernon and Colonial Williamsburg, to obtain items for 3D scanning, and the blog provided an opportunity to let people learn more about some of the places we went to scan artifacts. Our blog for the lab can be found at: https://vcuarchaeology3d.wordpress.com/.
Why are you still blogging?
I am still blogging, or having my students blog, on a roughly weekly basis because of the positive feedback we have received from our posts, which we’ve ensured are quite honest about what works and what does not work when it comes to our efforts in virtual curation. I’ve learned to see virtual curation from angles that I did not anticipate, from reaching out to new audiences, such as the blind, or working with artists with an interest in archaeology. Writing the blog has become integral to my efforts in promoting the public archaeology aspects of virtual curation, in addition to highlighting what I see as a tremendous research potential. I also found that writing individual blog entries—trying to write short pieces of interest to a broad audience—actually has aided me in clarifying my thinking and distilling my ideas—which makes it easier when I write about this project or present more formal talks to public and professional audiences. I’ve since started another blog that reflects my research interests on New Deal archaeology (www.newdealarchaeology.com) because I have found the blogging experience to be so positive. I certainly advocate that anyone who works in a heritage field consider maintaining a blog as one way of reaching out to a wider audience–I don’t necessarily see a lot of specific comments on my blogs, but I regularly encounter people who tell me they follow my work. Although, I do add to my anxiety if I don’t post a blog entry at least once a week!