Big Changes Coming in MSU Campus Archaeology’s Future

The 2017-18 academic year will be a momentous one for MSU Campus Archaeology. We are now an established entity in the University with our own budget and clear goals, but as of May 2018, I (Lynne Goldstein) will be retiring from MSU, and the MSU Campus Archaeology Program will have a new Director and, hopefully, even more exciting and new directions.

Thanks to the assistance of Dean Rachel Croson of the College of Social Science, MSU has hired Dr. Stacey Camp as an Associate Professor of Anthropology who will become Director of the MSU Campus Archaeology Program in May 2018. We have the good fortune to be able to spend this year making sure that we have everything in good shape, and preparing Stacey for the details of running this unique program.

MSU has been extraordinarily generous and supportive of the Campus Archaeology Program, and I cannot thank the Administration enough for their vision in championing the program and providing both undergraduate and graduate students unique and important training and career opportunities.

The rest of this post is written by Stacey Camp, introducing herself to MSU Campus Archaeology Program supporters.

Lynne Goldstein

Dr. Stacey Camp

Dr. Stacey Camp, Associate Professor of Anthropology and future director of CAP

I am honored and excited to be joining Michigan State University as a faculty member in the Department of Anthropology and as the Director of the MSU Campus Archaeology Program. I appreciate the opportunity to shadow Dr. Goldstein to ensure continuity in the MSU Campus Archaeology Program. I come from the University of Idaho where I spent 9 years as a faculty member and close to 4 years as the director of one of three state repositories in Idaho.

I have admired the MSU Campus Archaeology Program’s work from afar for many years, attending sessions on the project at conferences, reading its blog, and following its Twitter account. I was attracted to the program because of my own research projects, which have foregrounded a publicly engaged approach to archaeology.

My research takes a comparative approach to understanding the lives of migrants inhabiting the late 19th and early 20th century Western United States. My first large-scale public archaeology project examined the lives and archaeology of Mexican migrant laborers and their families, which I blogged about on a now defunct website. My latest project looks at the archaeology of Japanese American prisoners incarcerated in a World War II internment camp, and has likewise been documented on the web.

One of things I have appreciated about the MSU Campus Archaeology Program is its innovative and creative approach to placing the history of higher education in Michigan into the public’s hands. Their recent historic “MSU dinner” and their ongoing partnership with the MSU Paranormal Society to offer historic haunted tours are just a few examples of this type of engagement. I look forward to collaborating with students, colleagues, and community partners on the MSU Campus Archaeology Program to continue to develop new strategies to push the boundaries of public archaeology at MSU.

Stacey Camp

Introduction to Archaeology Blogs

There are hundreds of archaeology blogs, lists of active blogs are compiled (http://anthropologyreport.com/anthropology-blogs-2014/), individual blog posts are collected (http://dougsarchaeology.wordpress.com/2014/10/05/around-the-archaeology-blog-o-sphere-digest-5/), and RSS feeds are inundated. But if you’re new to anthropology, or specifically archaeology blogging, where’s a good place to start? I thought I’d share some information regarding a few of the archaeology themed blogs I have in my RSS feed.

Society for Historical Archaeologyhttp://www.sha.org/blog/

The SHA blog covers a number of diverse topics, but the thing to focus on are their blog series. Throughout the year they focus on specific themes and events, such as the current membership series will allows current SHA members to share their thoughts on the SHA, as well as their experiences in historical archaeology. They also continued their #TechWeek tradition, highlighting technology use by practicing archaeologists. This series allows members to share new and emerging technological methodology with the larger membership group, many of whom may not be as familiar with the technology in use today.

Middle Savageryhttp://middlesavagery.wordpress.com

Middle Savagery is written by Dr. Colleen Morgan, who is currently the EUROTAST Marie Curie Research Fellow at the University of York. Middle Savagery was started in 2004 (10 years of publishing is a long time in the blog-o-sphere) and covers topics relating to Dr. Morgan’s research on “building archaeological narratives with digital media”, as well as current topics of discussion in the field. She is also a contributor to the Punk Archaeology book I previously reviewed.

Savage Mindshttp://savageminds.org/

Although Savage Minds bills itself as a group blog that writes about sociocultural anthropology, the topics are often applicable to archaeology. They are currently on the tail end of their Fall Writers series where a guest post is published every Monday. It is viewed as a place to initiate conversation about writing, and to critically analyze the how, why, and what of anthropological writing.

Drunk Archaeology Podcasthttp://drunkarchaeology.tumblr.com

Drunk Archaeology is a very new podcast, that currently has two episode available for download. They are attempting to take the casual, rowdy nature of a group of archaeologist at the bar, and present it to a larger audience while covering topics like looting/illicit trade and the archaeology of Pompeii. Although some of the language could be considered NSFW, if you’ve got a good sense of humor and love archaeology take a listen.

Electric Archaeologyhttp://electricarchaeology.ca

Electric Archaeology is written by Dr. Shawn Graham, who is currently an associate professor of humanities at Carleton University. The blog focuses on his interest in digital media as a teaching tool, and his current research in history and archaeology.

 

If any of these blogs interest you, I also recommend following the authors on Twitter.

To blog or not to blog

As I’m sitting here, trying to figure out what I can possibly blog about this week, I’ve ticked off in my head the usual blog topics; fieldwork update, archival research update, CAP outreach rundown, etc…and I have nothing new to report on. Well this lack of information to disseminate got me thinking, why do we blog in the first place? I realize this is not a new and novel question, but I figured if I considered why we blog, then maybe I would have a flash of genius and come up with a blog topic. The more I looked into it, the more I wanted the “why” to actually be the topic.

Blogging has become ever more popular in the educational setting because of the increased interaction it encourages. Clark and Mayer(2003) describe two instructional tools that can be applied to educational blogging: directive and guided discovery techniques. a directive technique emphasizes a feedback loop between the students and instructor, while a guided discovery techniques are tools used to guide students to solutions in real-life challenges. Both of these techniques apply to the way CAP uses their blog, even though we are not in a traditional classroom setting.

Educational blogs have been referred to as a “transformative technology” because of their ability to “provide students with a high level of autonomy while simultaneously providing opportunity for greater interaction with peers” (Williams and Jacobs 2004:web resource). Blogs create an environment for students which encourages honest and heartfelt opinions without requiring hard and fast data. This allows students to gain confidence in their own opinions, while promoting critical analysis skills and creativity.

Blogging has also found its way into the realm of archaeology. It has become commonplace for archaeologists to create field journals that describe the day-to-day happenings of the field season. William Caraher, who has a blog for his excavation in Cyprus, explains that blogs are a “dynamic medium for the disseminating of archaeological knowledge” (Caraher 2008). Blogs allow the user to connect to a larger audience and interact with new communities of followers. The general public can be awe inspired to learn about archaeology while fellow colleagues can offer insight. Blogs have the power to bridge the gap between the knowledge of the hungry general public and the overly anxious archaeologist (Caraher 2008). Blogs create a transparency for excavations which encourages public trust (Caraher 2008). Additionally, this transparency provides a grounding for the general public to understand what real archaeology is, rather than what is portrayed on the silver screen.

Our goal for the CAP blog is exactly along these lines. We want to keep the public, and the University at large, informed of the history of MSU, through our archeology and blogging. Our research projects and public outreach revolve around the archeology of MSU’s campus, and we strive to disseminate our findings, while encouraging a strong sense of stewardship. We hope, that the more you know about the history of MSU, the more you’ll want it protected.

References:

Caraher, W. 2008. Blogging Archaeology and the Archeology of Blogging. Archaeology Magazine Online http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/blogs/index.html

Clark, R.C. and R.E. Mayer 2003 e-Learning and the science of instruction: proven guidelines for consumers and designers of multimedia learning. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.

Williams, J. and J. Jacobs 2004. Exploring the use of Blogs as Learning Spaces in the Higher Education Sector. Australasian Journal of Education Technology 20(2), 232-247.

*Excerpts for this blog were taken from Frederick, K. 2012. Blogging Archaeology: Experiences from the Morton Village Field School. Paper presented at Midwest Archaeological Conference 2012, East Lansing, MI

The Future of Blogging Campus Archaeology

blogging-archaeology-e1383664863497

This is the final blog post in a series of larger blogging carnival posts hosted by the blog Doug’s Archaeology. The previous posts have focused on why we blog, what we blog about, and the potential issues of blogging. For the last month of the blogging carnival, we look to the future. For the full question and answers to last month’s questions, check out the post here. Today’s post is written by Katy Meyers and Lynne Goldstein.

“The last question is where are you/we going with blogging or would you it like to go? I leave it up to you to choose between reflecting on you and your blog personally or all of archaeology blogging/bloggers or both. Tells us your goals for blogging. Or if you have none why that is? Tell us the direction that you hope blogging takes in archaeology.”

Campus Archaeology is a unique type of blog. It isn’t run by an individual, though it is overseen by Dr. Lynne Goldstein. There isn’t a single individual who writes the content- though oftentimes the Campus Archaeologist, the head of daily operations for the group, blogs more than other individuals. There is a wide range of voices on the site, coming from a wide range of backgrounds. Some are sixth year graduate students studying bioarchaeology, others are freshman undergraduates who are just beginning to understand what archaeology really is. The tone of the writing, the focus of the posts, and the goals of the blog are constantly shifting with the various Campus Archaeologists, graduate research fellows and undergraduate interns. I believe that it is this diversity which keeps the blog interesting- even if we touch on similar topics, it is from a different perspective. While I would love to predict the future of the blog, a lot of it depends on who the Campus Archaeologist and rest of the crew is at that moment in time.

There are however some specific goals that we hope to aim for and things we would like to introduce into the blog.

Filming for the AAA video of the Campus Archaeology lab

Filming for the AAA video of the Campus Archaeology lab

1. Video: We would like to add more video interactions into the blog. Archaeological work can be very active and dynamic, and adding more visual aspects like video would be a major benefit to communicating our work to the public. We hope to begin in the next month taking video of our work at MSU’s Science Fest with local children, and from the summer construction projects we will be working on. We don’t intend to create complete video blogs, but hope to use the medium as a supplement to the writing. For example, if we are discussing stratigraphy on Michigan State University’s campus and how diverse it can be in different areas, we could include video of someone pointing out the layers of a unit in one area and layers of a unit from a different area. It would give us a chance to demonstrate methods, or show 360 views of what certain historic buildings or artifacts look like.

2. Theme Months: We started our first ever theme month for March, focusing on Women and Archaeology. The hope with introducing these themes is that we can increase discussion and engagement of the public with the blog, as well as focus on the fact that there are many different tasks required to meet one specific goal. For example, we have individuals working on archival research, educating children, creating type collections, accessioning materials, and conducting lab and field work. By having themes, we can highlight how the wide range of archaeological activities are all related to one another, and how they each help us learn more about the past and educate people in the present.

Overall, our hope is to continue to engage with the Michigan State University community, the broader public and other archaeologists through blogging. Blogging is a fantastic tool for learning, teaching, sharing, and discussing archaeology in an approachable way. We want to make our blog a place where folks come to learn something new, discuss archaeological topics, and appreciate the past.

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.

Campus Archaeology in June, 2009

Campus Archaeology in June, 2009

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.

Campus Archaeology September, 2012

Campus Archaeology September, 2012

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.

 

Campus Archaeology June, 2013

Campus Archaeology June, 2013

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!

Blogging Archaeology: January Questions

blogging-archaeology-e1383664863497

This is the third 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? and our second post: The Good, Bad and Ugly

This month, our blogging archaeology carnival question from Doug’s Archaeology examines the best of posts. He leaves it up to us to define ‘best’, but suggests we look at number of views, most comments, best conversation created, or went the most viral. You can read about this month’s question and see the answers from last month’s question here: #BlogArch: Responses to Good, Bad and Ugly of Blogging.

This is a difficult question to answer since we have a large number of ever changing bloggers, and what each may define as their best post would probably be different. We are going to look at our favorite posts by different criteria, including the ones that started the most conversation, the ones that are most viewed, and the ones that are the most revealing.

Conversation starters: Our most popular conversation starters are the posts that tell university students, faculty and staff more about the historic university and the people. They like hearing about who lived in the university, what students in the 19th century were like, and how this relates to the archaeology we are doing today. A great example of this is the work by past intern Eve, who wrote about finding the heart of campus. Her posts talked about how what is perceived as being the focal point of of the university, whether that means what people see as the symbol of the campus like Beaumont Tower or the rock, or the area that is the literal center of activity. Another example is the work of intern Paige, who connected archival text from the university to artifacts that we had excavated. She was able to show why combining these two resources is so important, and also link tangible items to behavior in the past.

Most views: Our posts that consistently receive the most unique views are the ones that review topics in archaeology and artifact identification. The Archaeology 101 series started by Terry included posts on reading stratigraphy and doing shovel test pits. It isn’t surprising that these helpful and general posts are the ones that are viewed more frequently. Second to these are posts about specific artifacts which receive quite a few comments. These posts demonstrate the research that goes into identification of artifacts, and hopefully makes it easier for future research. We get numerous comments on these posts asking for more information and details! Some examples are the post on the paperclip, dairy bottles, makeup containers, and nails.

Most revealing: There are two posts that had surprises on campus, and that I would think are some of the best. The first is when Terry determined that a piece of plaster found near Beal Street was a portion of a wall from College Hall. This answered the question of what happened to the demolished remains of the building- they were used to build up the banks of the river to prevent flooding! The blog post he wrote explained how they were able to use artifacts to fill in archival information. The second big surprise on campus was when construction crews found a building under East Circle Drive. The blog post I wrote describes how we figured out what the building was and the excavation of it.

On a personal note, my favorite two posts have been the Halloween ones. I loved Amy’s post on how Halloween has been celebrated on campus, and I loved writing my own post on where campus may be haunted. Enjoy!

Dairy Bottles Found on MSU’s Campus

Michigan State College Creamery Bottle from Brody-Emmons Dig

Recently we’ve been looking at the history of sustainability practices at Michigan State University. Part of being ‘green’ is reducing one’s food miles. This is the distance of the production to the distance of consumption. Food transported long distances or across continents burns up fossil fuels and contributes to global warming. In recent years, prevention of this has led to increased emphasis on growing and eating local foods. Michigan State University is currently trying to be more local, but also has a long history of sourcing food from the area and producing our own.

One way of examining where our food came from in the past is by looking at the containers that they came in. We have a number of milk bottles from the Brody-Emmons surveys that have occurred. The site dates to the early 20th century, when there was increasing long distance travel due to the introduction of automobiles. Milk bottles can show us where students and the community were getting their dairy supply, and how far the dairy traveled to reach us.There are three types of milk bottles that we have found: Arctic Dairy, Lansing Dairy, and MSC Creamery.

Milk Bottles Collected from Brody-Emmons on MSU’s Campus, From Left to Right: Lansing Dairy, Lansing Dairy, Artic Dairy

Arctic Dairy was founded in 1908 by Alfred Foster Stephens. The first plants were opened in Detroit, but they had factories later in Grand Ledge, Grand Rapids, and Hastings. In 1922, the company had forty-five trucks and thirty five wagons, and employed an average of one hundred and fifty men. In the 1930’s the company was bought by Detroit Creamery, but the name was retained. The company still exists today, but it only produces ice cream. Campus Archaeology recovered a number of these bottles in different sizes, suggesting that Arctic Dairy had a fair amont of popularity in the area.

Lansing Dairy Company was started in the 1920’s as a co-operative organization for area farmers. From a a Milk Dealer’s journal printed in 1922, we see that the group’s goal is to produce primarily fluid milk, using the leftovers for by-products. When it was started the company was lauded for using the most up to date technology for sanitation and production.

Michigan State College Dairy Products Delivery Truck, via MSU Archives and Historical Records

Finally, we have a number of bottles from the Michigan State College Creamery. Due to the campus beginning as an agricultural college, it isn’t surprising that there is a rich history of dairy production here. The first dairy classes began in 1895 at MSU. In 1914 a new dairy building for study and research was opened on campus, and in 1929 the new dairy was erected as part of a generous donation by the Kellogg family. It is unclear when milk started being delivered or when it stopped, but we have evidence of the bottles from the 1920’s East Lansing landfill and bottle caps from their milk bottles dating to the 1950’s. The MSC creamery exists today, but as the MSU Dairy Store where you can buy fresh MSU milk products, delicious ice cream, and on Mondays get the best lunch deal in town!

The fact that most of our milk bottles come from a limited region shows that people were buying local, but not exclusively East Lansing or Lansing products. Increasing use of trucks allowed people to buy milk from Detroit or Grand Rapids instead of the relying on the two closest dairy producers.

Works Cited

MSU Archives. Dairy. http://msuarchives.wordpress.com/?s=dairy

MSU Dairy History. http://www.kbs.msu.edu/research/pasture-dairy/dairy/dairy-history

Milk Dealer: National Journal for City Trade 1922, Vol. 11. http://books.google.com/books?id=j6YzAQAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

Hill House History, Artic Creamery. http://www.coventrycrest.com/history.htm

Day of Archaeology

Day of archaeology logoToday is the Day of Archaeology, a day where 400 archaeologists from around the world share what they are doing on a normal day in their life. Campus Archaeology has done a joint contribution from Dr. Goldstein, Chris Stawski, Kristin Sewell, Grace Krause and me, Katy Meyers. The blog posts show the wide variety of archaeology being done in the world, and also the wide range of activities that take place within archaeology.

You can see Campus Archaeology’s post here: A Day (or 2) in the Life of the MSU Campus Archaeology Program

For the main site, visit the Day of Archaeology

SAA 2011: Blogging in Archaeology, Week 4

This post is week 4 (and the final post) of the Blogging in Archaeology questions posed by Colleen Morgan of the blog Middle Savagery.

Question: Consider the act of publication for this blog carnival. How could we best capture the interplay, the multimedia experience of blogging as a more formalized publication? What would be the best outcome for this collection of insights from archaeological bloggers?

The MSU Campus Archaeology Crew

As a finale to this blogging month, we discussed this week’s question as a group and voted on what we thought would be the best way to ‘publish’ this collection of blog posts and discussions. We came up with three ideas that we all like.

First, we think that the SAA should put the “discussion” on their website. This could be done a couple of different ways – as a “static” item, or as something dynamic (we prefer this).

Second, we think that it would be useful to publish a version of the posts and the process background as an article in the SAA Archaeological Record. This would reach people who might not see the blogs in another form.

Finally, we suggest a blogroll as a potential way to both continue the conversation and expand it, as well as expanding access to the blogs of those who participated.

An official peer-reviewed article is also a possibility, but there was not general agreement on the form or nature of this option. The above 3 ideas seem logical to us.

Thanks for allowing us to participate! We’ve had a lot of fun!

SAA 2011: Blogging in Archaeology Week 3

This post is week 3 of the Blogging in Archaeology questions posed by Colleen Morgan of the blog Middle Savagery.

Question 3: Most archaeological blogs that I read have very little in the way of dialog through comments. Often on this blog, I feel like I am talking to myself, which in a way is catharsis, but if an archaeology blogger writes and no one reacts, are we really changing opinions or moving the field forward? I would add to this, how do you attract readership? Without too much in the way of SEO chatter, who is your audience and how do you interact with this audience? What do you want out of interactivity by means of blogging about archaeology?

Katy Meyers:

The issue of readership and effect on the broader archaeological world is an issue that I think often plagues the blogger. Are we adding to the general conversation, forwarding archaeological knowledge, and revealing an alternative perspective? Or do our thoughts get thrown into a digital void, passed over for print journals and more traditional scholarly methods of communication? The blog provides a unique way for any level of archaeologist to interact with the discipline and get in on the conversation- but how do we ensure that what we write is actually making a difference?

The solution to this problem is to begin cross talk between bloggers, like what this discussion is doing. Blogs are a way to open debate and create constructive criticism that can forward the discipline, but only if we use them this way. Perhaps what we need is to use blogs as more interactive forums, begin posting more on other people’s blogs, open up the dialogue between ourselves. Blogging has been a solo, self-focused activity, but it doesn’t have to be. If we are putting our ideas out into the digital world, we hope that it makes an effect or opens up dialogue, but the only way we can start this is by beginning to comment on others ideas. Instead of blogs acting as a presentation of data, we need to make them a roundtable discussion. Just as conferences have shifted to the open dialogue of unconferences, perhaps what we need is an unblog- focused on discussion and debate rather than personal opinion.

Grace Krause:

I see this issue not necessarily as one of readership, but participation.  Personally, I enjoy reading blogs, but actually responding to the entries is not intuitive to me.  I know many others that find blogs interesting resources, but they are likewise disinclined to put forth the effort to react either through comment or a blog entry of their own to stimulate dialogue.  The problem is similar to a classroom, where participation is partially dependent on the teacher’s ability to inspire students to think creatively.  It is a learning process, and I think blogging is undergoing a similar change as archaeology moves deeper into the digital world.  Interactivity and accessibility are two aspects that give blogging unique potential to change minds and blossom fresh ideas, but the audience must be encouraged to react publicly, which can be especially difficult if readers do not have blogs or other online outlets of their own.  For interacting with the blog-savvy audience I agree with Katy, activities such as this discussion where questions and answers are stimulated by the response of a group of bloggers provide appropriate dialogue for new ideas.  For interacting with the non-blogging readership, however, interaction is more challenging and requires more linkage with the real world, such as CAP’s augmentation of public events through blogging.

Lynne Goldstein:

While I agree that communication, audience, and impact can be problems, I think it is similar to the problems we have always had in getting the message out – the format is just different and the potential audience wider. I think it is important to realize that the idea of: “if you build it, they will come” has really never been true. Publicizing and encouraging has to be part of the plan. In order to be successful, you have to figure out your audience (or who you want your audience to be), then determine what will motivate them to take part. In addition, you have to realize that reading and not commenting is not a bad thing – you may well have an impact, but it will be hard to measure. I agree with Grace on this point.

When we blog on the Campus Archaeology site, we always “advertise” it through CAP’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. Individuals associated with the program promote the blog post on their personal Twitter and Facebook feeds, including “liking” the link on Facebook. This guarantees exposure to a wider audience and the fact that people will at least know the post is there. For Campus Archaeology, our audience includes a wide variety of folks, and if the post is something that I think is especially relevant or shows some amazing work, I email links to specific people, like the President of the university, the Provost, etc. They always check it out and respond back, and they often tell others.

But, I want to get back to the point that you don’t always know the effect that a post has (just like you don’t always know the effect anything you write has) until later, or maybe even never. I’m not sure that that is a bad thing. There are ways to check how many people looked at the post, but effects are very different. I think you have to forge ahead with the understanding that someone may or may not read and comment, but the information is out there. Then, when you discover that your work has had a positive (or any) effect, you can be pleasantly surprised and pleased.