Blogging Campus Archaeology: A Retrospective
This is the fourth post as part of the Blogging Archaeology Carnival hosted by Doug’s Archaeology. To learn more about this, please see our first post: Why do we blog?, our second post: The Good, Bad and Ugly, and our third post: Our Best Posts.
This month, the question from Doug’s Archaeology for the carnival is a little bit different: there isn’t one. Instead, he proposes that we write on whatever we want to in relationship to blogging archaeology.
I’ve been blogging for Campus Archaeology since September 2010- that’s three and a half years of writing for the same organization as it developed and changed. When I first started, it was in my first year as a graduate student in MSU’s Department of Anthropology. I was working under the guidance of Campus Archaeologist, Chris Stawski, and had a number of projects focusing on GIS and public outreach. The following two years, I was the Campus Archaeologist and worked with a team of graduate and undergraduate students. This year, Kate Frederick is the Campus Archaeologist, and I’m continuing to work on the GIS and help with the accession of our artifacts. Over this time, its been interesting watching the blog develop and change from a medium for communicating dig locations and excavations, to a more robust forum for discussion and community sharing.
The blog on this website first started in March 2009 when the new Campus Archaeology website launched. Prior to that, the blog was held on the first Campus Archaeologist’s own website. The ‘new’ blog in 2009 began with posts primarily by Terry Brock that reviewed the basics of archaeology, as well as reviews and announcements of digs and surveys occurring on campus. A second author came on to write almost a year later in April 2010. Throughout this first period, the focus on the blog was informing the public about finds and upcoming digs.
Beginning in 2011, a team of graduate student fellows began publishing a variety of articles on the blog about their individual research into different aspects of Campus Archaeology and historic MSU. My own first post came on February 7, 2011 and was about developing a more robust GIS for Campus Archaeology. Looking back, its funny to see how my own individual writing and style has changed so much! While there was an increase in people blogging, the posts were only going up every couple weeks, or in response to digs occurring. In the Fall of 2011, blog posts started going up twice a week, undergraduate interns began posting on the main blog site (we integrated their posts instead of keeping them separate), and we had more graduate students involved.
Since starting the new site, there have been four different Campus Archaeologist’s sharing information on digs, surveys, and the work occurring within the program, 13 different graduate fellows sharing their research projects and updates from the field, 15 undergraduate interns who are writing about their archival work, individual projects, and experiences learning archaeology through doing. We’ve had an amazing range of posts that show the importance of archaeology, especially to the university. Blogging isn’t just about sharing our work; it is an important part of learning to communicate complex archaeological concepts to a non-specialist audience.
Campus Archaeology began as a blog that shared archaeological excavations and skills. While that continues to be a focus of our work, readers can now see the full range of work that archaeologists do, from the hours spent in archives before the dig to the hours spent analyzing artifacts and digitizing maps after the dig. As new people join each semester, the foci change, the research shifts, and the blog changes. It will be interesting to watch it continue to develop and grow.
A comment from Lynne Goldstein, Director of Campus Archaeology: It has been amazingly rewarding to watch Campus Archaeology develop over time, expanding its range, participants, and audience. I don’t blog very often, but, from the beginning, I am always watching and monitoring what we do and how we do it. One of our goals is to develop a strong and innovative program here and to serve as an example for other campuses who want to try and do something similar to what we have been able to accomplish. We look forward to the future of the past!