Campus Archaeology & Social Media: What We’ve Learned Over the Past Seven Years

UntitledSince its official beginnings in 2007, social media has played an important role in the management of and education about cultural heritage on campus. Social media is part of a larger multifaceted communication plan that has been developed as part of this program for multiple reasons, and is not simply a tool for public engagement. Over the last seven years, we’ve changed, updated, and maintained a social media presence that has been pivotal in our success as a small group in a large university. At the Midwest Historical Archaeology Conference on September 28, 2014- I had the opportunity to present on why our social media presence has been successful and how we have used it. Here, I want to share some of the ways we’ve creatively used social media, and the things that we’ve learned over the last seven years.

Whether its on Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, Flickr, YouTube, or other social media, we have used social media to accomplish four primary goals:

  • Engagement with our stakeholders, including MSU students, staff and faculty, as well as the broader public and MSU alumni
    • We share  updates about fieldwork, we invite people to come watch our excavations, and we share information about what we’ve found and how we’ve interpreted it.
    • This provides the public with knowledge that their shared Spartan heritage is being protected, gives them new information about this heritage, and it reveals the process of archaeology, improving the transparency of the work that we do and making it more accessible.
  • Communication and collaboration with the broader archaeological communities and groups around the world
    • Our work isn’t just for the local community- it is part of the larger public archaeology being conducted around the world!
    • We use social media to talk with other archaeologists about the work they are doing, and we also use this network to get help identifying artifacts, finding resources to aid in interpretation, and learning about new tools we can use.
  • Opportunity for graduate and undergraduate students to gain digital and public engagement skills
    • As our world is increasingly online, it is important for our students to learn about digital tools and how to use them as an archaeologist. We provide an opportunity for our students to learn how to use social media and talk with diverse audiences.
  • Maintain a digital record of our work that can easily be accessed from any computer
    • By keeping digital records of the work we are doing, we can access photos, data, reports, and more from the different social media tools we use. Flickr maintains a photo record, YouTube has a video record, our blog has information about past interpretations, and Storify has records of the Twitter feeds from different events.

After seven years of using social media in this fashion, we’ve learned a number of lessons that will be helpful for those looking to improve their own program’s social media presence.

  • Use a wide variety of social media and digital tools: there isn’t one perfect tool that will allow you to reach everyone and engage with all the different groups. There are different audiences using different tools, which means that you need to find a range of tools that works for you. Often, we post similar things on Twitter and Facebook, because there are different groups reading them.
  • Be flexible and try new things: new types of tools and software are being released almost every day, so you cannot be wedded to one type of approach or a set of tools. We are constantly on the lookout for new ways to engage and collaborate online. Its important to look for what new ways people are using to communicate with one another, and be willing to take up new tools and abandon the old if it no longer serves its purpose.
  • Keep track of analytics: analytics tell you how many hits you are getting, how many people are looking at the site, what posts or tweets are the most engaged with, and more. From this, you can better adjust and maintain the success of your social media. Almost all social media have analytics tools that will help you see what is getting the most attention, and what needs to be changed.

If you’d like to learn more, Dr. Goldstein will be leading a webinar about this topic!

Webinar: Campus Archaeology’s Social Media Approach

Through the Society for American Archaeology

Led by Dr. Lynne Goldstein

Tentatively scheduled: December 10, 2 pm (Eastern)

Look for SAA announcement!

 

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

Day of DH: Perspectives from the Campus Archaeology Team

Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 8.21.03 AMAs part of Day of Digital Humanities (DH), we are going to be sharing perspectives of what doing digital means for various members of the Campus Archaeology team. Digital Humanities covers a large body of work, but primarily refers to the application of digital tools and technology to humanities problems and questions. This page will be updated throughout April 8, 2014 with new posts and updates about our digital tools during the day.

You can visit our official Day of DH page here, and learn more about Day of DH here.

12:30 pm: Katy’s Perspective

My work with Campus Archaeology has been very digitally focused- that is until this year. I’ve done work to help create a more robust mapping system for Campus Archaeology using geographic information systems. As the Campus Archaeologist (2011-2013) I usedFlickrTwitterFacebook and WordPress to engage with the public and share our findings. I developed an Omeka site for Campus Archaeology to create online museum exhibits. But I’ve been a little more analog this year. My current project is to accession all the Campus Archaeology artifacts, which entails giving unique numbers to artifacts in order to keep track of them and organize them by location found.

My dropbox for applying for site numbers, collaboratively done by using the cloud

My dropbox for applying for site numbers, collaboratively done by using the cloud

Despite the fact that the bulk of my project is analog, we’ve made the process easier by sharing documents about sites in Dropbox and our database of artifacts is all digital. I’m also helping others to make their work a little more digital. I’ve been working with intern Josh to improve the GIS by adding more attributes and adding all the survey points. I’ve also been helping with Dig the Past, this past weekend I volunteered at the event and tweeted throughout the it. By keeping track of these tweets, I was able to create a Storify version of the day.

So even though I’d say I’m not doing digital projects, digital tools are still an essential part of my workflow and help to organize my work with Campus Archaeology. I still find it fascinating of how helpful new technology is for understanding the past and engaging with the public.

11:30 am: Campus Archaeologist Kate’s Perspective

Kate screening while shovel testing under sidewalks for Campus Archaeology

Kate screening while shovel testing under sidewalks for Campus Archaeology

Field blogging has become commonplace for archaeologists; creating field journals that describe the day-to-day happenings of the field season. Blogs allow the archaeologist 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 create a transparency for excavations which encourages public trust. 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. Field school blogging has become an ever more popular tool used to insure learning.

Blogging has the power to strengthen a student’s field experience by encouraging the student to be fully engaged in every aspect of the field season, by allowing the student to share his/her experience with a wider, captivated audience, and by creating a system the ensures the student is understanding the archaeology. While classroom blogging fosters interactions between students, blogging in the field fosters interactions between the student and the excavation. By encouraging the student to think critically about what the artifacts and features are saying about the site, blogging lets the student interact intellectually with the archaeology. While the typical non- digital field journal is used to remember numbers, depths, coordinates, etc…the field blog is a less formal format that gives the student an opportunity to be creative and think outside of the box…or in this case the unit!

11:05 am: Digital is all around us!

Campus Archaeology Tweet

10:30 am: Erica’s Perspective

Dig the Past

Dig the Past

When I first heard about April 8, Day of DH, my first thought was, “What is DH?” Similar to anyone with access to a computer, email is second nature to me and I have fun playing on my Facebook page, but this is where my technology experience ends. When I learned about Day of DH, I wondered, “who are a digital humanists and what do they do?” This is precisely why I would like to participate in Day of DH: to explore, to experience, and to understand what DH is all about.

Recently, I became active in a public outreach program, Dig the Past, which introduces people of all ages to what archaeologists do through hands-on activities. Participation in Dig the Past enabled me to join MSU’s Campus Archaeology Program, the parent program of DTP. By being an active member in CAP, I am learning how various forms of social media are used to educate the public about the important work that archaeologists do. I am excited to participate in Day of DH and write about my new experiences using social media to communicate about Campus Archaeology activities.

9:30 am: Adrianne’s Perspective

Dig the Past

Dig the Past

My work for the Campus Archaeology Program has largely involved creating and overseeing the “Dig the Past” monthly series of hands-on educational workshops that CAP hosts at the MSU Museum. “Dig the Past” is an education and engagement project sponsored by the Campus Archaeology Program in which kids learn what archaeologists do by doing it. Workshop participants dig, sift, and sort their way towards learning about how archaeology builds knowledge about the human past. The program involves hands-on activities targeted towards children as well as adults which promote learning and disseminate information about the history and archaeology of MSU and its campus. Because the program is, very intentionally, about physically interacting with cultural material and hands-on learning activities, my digital heritage activities for the project have not been particularly in-depth. I have used social media platforms like Twitter (@archaeoAD) and Facebook to promote the program and to connect with other content experts and public programmers interested in informal learning. I’ve written a few blog posts describing and reflecting upon aspects of my experience working with the program, which can be read on the CAPBlog. I have also created a Flickr account to archive photos taken at Dig the Past sessions, which can be viewed here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/97088955@N02/sets The blog posts and photo archive are valuable records of the activities, especially as they have evolved since Dig the Past started, and will complement the wealth of other content developed for the program since its inception.

8:30 am: Amy and Nicole’s Perspective

For our Campus Archaeology projects, we rely on the MSU Archives to supplement the artifacts we find during excavations on campus. Fortunately the Archives have digitized some of their collections, which can be found on their searchable website “On the Banks of the Red Cedar”.  This site contains oral histories, documents, newspapers, and photographs detailing early campus life. The Archives also has a public flickr account which includes many photographs from MSU’s early history. An upcoming exhibit by Campus Archaeology on the origins of research laboratories on campus will be featured in Chittenden Hall, which will soon be the new home of the MSU Graduate School.

In order to benefit future researchers interested in the historic campus, we catalogue all notes regarding historical documents, photographs, and artifacts in a digital reference database. Campus Archaeology uses the Zotero software to share and disseminate this information. Our integrated project demonstrates the usefulness and importance of combining archaeological excavations and archival research to further our understanding of MSU’s rich academic and social history.

7:15 am: Good Morning and Happy Day of DH!

Campus Archaeology Day of DH tweet

6:00 am: Doing Digital Campus Archaeology: Andrew’s Perspective

One of my functions within Campus Archaeology is to monitor and disseminate scholarly archaeological content via our social media outlets.  While tangentially related to DH, it does bring the field or archaeology, from various perspectives on various subjects around the world, to our readers who might not otherwise have found the same content. As professional archaeologists, it is our connection to the scholarly community which allows us to bring interesting and informative content to readers who may not be professionals, in a way that is easily understood and accessible.

Happy Digital Learning Day!

Digital Learning Day Logo, via DLD Website

Digital Learning Day Logo, via DLD Website

Digital Learning Day was started by the Alliance for Learning, in partnership with the National Writing Project to celebrate innovative teaching practices that teach digital skills to students in order to improve their opportunities in the future. Digital learning consists of any instruction that uses technology to strengthen learning. Campus Archaeology has always been committed to using digital tools as a way to reach the public and explore the past. Students work with Geographic Information Systems to do spatial analyses, OMEKA to create online museum exhibits, and social media to share their work to the public.

Last year for Digital Learning Day, we hosted a workshop to teach social media and digital identity skills to students and faculty within MSU’s Department of Anthropology. The event was a major success, and many students came away with a new found knowledge of how to use digital tools to improve their networking, research, and teaching.

We decided to follow up last year’s event with a more informal brown bag discussion and hack session. Today, on Digital Learning Day 2014, a group of Anthropology students got together to review digital identity management, update their social media profiles, learn new technologies that appeared within the last year, and help each other develop their digital skills. At the event we reviewed the basic principles of maintaining a digital identity, answered some questions regarding use and best practices for employing different tech tools for research, and updated our online profiles. It was a very successful event with great discussions.

Campus Archaeology had another very successful Digital Learning Day, and we are looking forward to next year!

Engaging with social media: an exercise in self-reflection

For many, engagement with social media is a daily practice (in some cases, people engage multiple times per day).  Many people do not even think about it or consider it a ‘task’ to be undertaken.  They tweet, they post on Facebook, add random (or non-random) content to Pinterest, but do the social media enthusiasts among us really stop to consider what they are adding to the limitless, undefined space that is the internet?

Social media outlets are meant to be a means for people to engage with one another; to share common interests.  The question then arises: what is of interest?  To figure out how to engage with social media, an internal discussion must come first.  I will use myself as an example.

Within the sphere of archaeology, we all work on that which is the past of humanity, however we do not all actively engage with all parts of the history of humanity.  For my part, I generally engage with the past of humanity in ancient Egypt.  My skew within archaeology is toward the very ancient (approximately 6000-4700 years ago), and toward mortuary practices.  I do not often engage with the every-day lives of the ancient Egyptians.  In point of fact, I only reflexively engage with their lives through the disposal of their dead.  I also do not engage with the recent archaeological past of Egypt.

What does all of this mean?  I had to mitigate within my own mind the engagement with what I would consider very modern history.  Michigan State University has obviously not been around for thousands of years, or even hundreds of years.  We count our history at MSU in terms of decades, not centuries.  This is a concept very foreign to me with regard to archaeology.  How old is old?  Does something have more gravity if it is 5000 years old than if it is less than 100 years old?  Is something more interesting if it is 5000 years old?  After having been a part of CAP now, even for a short period of time, I would have to answer “no” to that last question.  The archaeological history of MSU is unique, interesting and quite extraordinary in the grand scheme of archaeology.

So, I have been circling the airport, and now it is time to land.  My point, though it may have been obscured by the clouds through which I was navigating, is that finding the unique and interesting quality of the subject matter with which you engage is the first step to actually spreading that interest to other people via social media.  The history of MSU represented by the physical, tangible remnants of our Spartan history, is extremely interesting, quirky, and draws all people, whether alumni, current students, faculty, staff, or simply the interested observer to our little corner of the internet.  This is the place where the rusty nail, the corroded spoon, the broken ceramics and the bits of construction debris return to the discussion of “what makes MSU?”

I invite you all to be personally engaged with this topic, the way I and all the members of CAP are engaged with it.  Ask us questions via Twitter or Facebook!  For us to better engage you, we need to know how you, our followers engage with the history of MSU.  Let’s start a conversation!  What do you want to know about the archaeological history of MSU?

As always, follow us on Twitter or “like” us on Facebook! Join the discussion about the interesting and unique past of Michigan State University!

Archaeology in the Electronic Age

Social media has become so interwoven with our lives that it is difficult to imagine not having access to Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, or Instagram on a daily basis.  These outlets for creativity, networking, community-building and information dissemination have had a significant impact on the way we see the world.  Here at Campus Archaeology, we too are part of this network of social media–through our website, blog (which you are reading right now), Twitter, and Facebook page.

This year, I will be focusing on expanding and refining the social media presence of Campus Archaeology.  Our goal is to increase public awareness of our projects which help to illuminate the past of Michigan State University, and to promote the understanding of archaeology as a discipline.

I would like to invite those of you involved at other colleges and universities in on-campus excavations to get in touch with us here at MSU Campus Archaeology contact Andrew Lopinto (lopintoa@msu.edu) or Kate Frederick (hammon85@msu.edu) . Tell us about what you are excavating on your campus and what you have learned about the history of your alma mater!

With the interest of all of you out there who are reading this blog, checking our Twitter feed or who have “liked” CAP on Facebook, we hope to further build our social media presence and present an interesting and informative network of media.  Stay tuned for more updates!

DLD2013: Social Media for Anthropologists Review

This year, in celebration of Digital Learning Day (Feb. 6), we decided to host a workshop for anthropologists on how to use social media for their research, networking and teaching. At Campus Archaeology we use social media all the time to connect with the public, to share our work and to collaborate on projects. So we know the value of having social media skills in this field. In the workshop yesterday we taught a group of graduate and undergraduate students why they should be using social media, the basics of some social media platforms, and some of the creative uses for research, networking and teaching.

Digital Learning Day Workshop in Progress, Photo by Lynne Goldstein via Twitter

Digital Learning Day Workshop in Progress, Photo by Lynne Goldstein via Twitter

The workshop began with some of the principles of maintaining an online identity, including keeping a consistent image and description of yourself across all platforms and tools, and awareness of privacy and copyright. Next we introduced some of our favorite tools for networking, research and teaching. These included Twitter, Facebook, Academia.edu, LinkedIn, Zotero, Flickr, Pinterest, and designing a personal website through platforms like WordPress or Google Sites. Then we discussed the different ways that you can use these tools for networking, research and teaching. Following this segment, the participants had a chance to play with some of the tools, set up accounts, and begin networking amongst themselves. Overall we had a great turnout and wonderful group discussion over the merits of these tools.

Some of the discussion included: how can you use social media effectively in the classroom without it being a distraction, what should I be tweeting about, how do I use visual sites like Flickr and Pinterest if my work is highly sensitive and my informants can’t be photographed, what is an appropriate photo for my account, should I use my real name or not on accounts, how do I make accounts like Facebook more professionally appropriate?

We also had some great advice from participants on how to get started using these tools and what worked for them. One stated that she didn’t know what to post on Twitter or how to interact, so she started following people in her sub-field, watched their interactions, and then when she felt comfortable joined in with them. Another mentioned the benefit of having a personal website as a homespace that all other accounts and social media tools could point to, and how it serves as a more expanded CV.

It was a very successful Digital Learning Day, and hopefully the participants will be able to put their new digital skills to use!

 

Campus Archaeology Program at Michigan Archaeology Day 2012

Next weekend, on Saturday, October 6th, Campus Archaeology Program will be making a special appearance at the State Historical Museum’s yearly Michigan Archaeology Day. The theme for this year is “Hot Iron and Cold Winters,” and will highlight the Fayette Historic Town Site, an immigrant iron town in the Upper Peninsula founded by the Jackson Iron Company in 1867. This time period is analogous with the foundation of our university.

From 11:00 am to 3:00 pm, there will be presentations, demonstrations, and exhibitions from different universities and societies to show what archaeologists are up to in the state of Michigan. As you make your way through the museum, the exhibition tables are set up chronologically according to time period in human history.

I had the opportunity to see the behind the scenes construction of the event and was able to go into the private rooms where there are human remains and a Native American weapon that was found in the Upper Peninsula and was carbon dated at 20 AD. Everyone is working very hard to make this an informative and interactive day.

The Campus Archaeology Program’s graduate fellows will be there with our exhibition which will have some of our best prehistoric and historic artifacts from MSU’s campus, a poster showing who we are and what we do, a visual activity for children, and more. This is a great opportunity for the public to learn about thousands of years of Michigan history and for us to show the important and interesting things that we are uncovering on our historic campus. We look forward to seeing you there.

Click here to visit the event’s official website.

Our Facebook event page is here.

Michigan Historical Museum’s Facebook page is here.

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.