Last month we told you about an exciting monthly blogging event held on dougsarchaeology.wordpress.com. Each month Doug is asking fellow archaeology bloggers to post their responses to questions about their experiences with blogging. He’ll be compiling a list of all the answers each month (See November’s responses here) leading up to the Society for American Archaeology’s conference in Austin and its session on Blogging in Archaeology.
This month Doug is asking for posts on “the good, the bad, and the ugly of blogging.”
The Good–Blogging for our company GRA has turned out to be a really great experience in unexpected ways. While the blog has increased exposure for the company and radio show, it has also increased our exposure to the larger archaeological world. Researching topics and looking up other archaeologists on social media venues has made us more aware of archaeological discussions going on in these spheres, as well as conferences and events. It’s also proven to be a great way to let others in our team know what we’ve been working on and share some of the research that often goes unrecognized. Creating a narrative about the artifacts has been a lot of fun and researching the context for the narratives has actually shed more light on the artifacts themselves.
The Bad–We’re relatively new to the blogging world so we haven’t yet suffered to much frustration or disappointment yet. It is very difficult to know or understand how people respond to the blog or to get feedback on what we could change. When the blog started, there was a small obsession with the stats page, and it’s always a little disappointing to see a post you are particularly proud of not fair as well. Overall though, it’s been a great experience.
That is the summary for blogging as GRA. As an intern with the company who is currently in charge of maintaining the blog site, I thought it would be interesting to add my own personal Good, Bad, and Ugly remarks.
The Good–It turns out that blogging is a lot of fun. Starting out with an artifact and figuring out a story, context, or way of presenting it that makes it interesting and engaging has taken me down a lot of fun paths. Reading, interacting, and tweeting other bloggers has shown me how great social media has become for professional development and keeping up on conferences and debates. I’ve made a lot of new friends and contacts doing the blog and learned a lot about different aspects of our projects and the company. Even though I’ll be leaving soon to work on my dissertation, my short experience with blogging has made me want to start my own (now I just need some ideas!)
The Bad–Blogging is hard. It’s a different form of writing that after so many years in grad school doesn’t come naturally. It’s easy to let it fall to the wayside when report deadlines, exam grades, and chapters come due, and leaving the blog even for a day can be very addictive. It can be challenging coming up with new material sometimes but pushing through that challenge has actually helped me in my everyday writing. Forcing myself to write blog posts on days when I’m scrambling has shown me the power of sitting at the computer and just doing it (a skill I imagine will be helpful during thesis writing.) Sometimes people don’t understand why I would spend time blogging, and the issue of how blogging is perceived as useful and engaging but still radically undervalued in the profession is one I’m sure many other bloggers will touch on. Blogging in the carnival though has shown me that there is an ever growing contingent of archaeologists interested in blogging and promoting it as a useful and necessary tool of our profession.
The Ugly–I haven’t had any real experience with this as of yet, but I know that I often struggle with maintaining a voice on the blog that represents the company, rather than myself. Social media is tricky, since many social cues like facial expressions and tone are removed. Whenever I make a post or tweet, there is a part of me that is nervous that the humor or opinion will be misinterpreted, which is especially serious when representing a company. I’ve been treading slowly with our social media and blogging experience, searching for new, relevant topics while maintaining a critical eye to my own posts to make sure the right chord is struck for readers.
There you have it! Make sure to follow #BlogArch on Twitter for all the responses and check Doug’s blog for the round up.