The upcoming 2014 Society for American Archaeology meetings in Austin will include a session on blogging and archaeology. As part of that session, Doug’s Archaeology is hosting a monthly blogging carnival, in which participating blogs post on the same topic. I’ve been invited to join this group. The first topic is “why blog about archaeology”. This question has a couple answers.
The primary reason is that the blog provides some small motivation to continue to write and research. In this format, I can post pieces of a larger project. Those pieces get posted as they are completed. Each post thus feels like an accomplishment but also contributes to the goal of finishing the project. The first series of posts that I wrote, on the intensification of fishing, did eventually get formally published as a single piece. The blog was very helpful in developing that paper during the long slog toward publication.
My experience working on that paper and the blog led me to identify some other, related benefits of blogging. Due to space constraints, some material that I developed for the intensification paper was dropped from the final version. The blog provided a venue in which to share those thoughts, if someone should be interested in that aspect of the topic or greater details on the topic. For example, I used the blog to post R code that I wrote to perform some of the analyses for the intensification paper. This experience led me to the realization that the blog was also a great place for small projects that would likely never get formally published. The next series of posts that I wrote concerned variation in burial monument size. It’s possible that some of this material will resurface as a part of another project, but for now those posts were just a fun little diversion.
Other professions, such as economics, have a more well-developed tradition of posting working papers, papers that are pre-publication. Blogs are a great way to develop and further this tradition and to share data and insights that might not otherwise fit within the strictures of academic publishing.