Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Blogging Archaeology - the Good the Bad and the Ugly

It's December! That means I need to be thinking about a new micrograph of the month for your viewing pleasure, but for now here is my response to the second round of questions for the Blogging Archaeology blog carnival. Click here for more info and my response to the first round in November. Very interesting to see the range of responses to the last lot. I recognised a few of the blogs taking part, as well discovering some new ones to add to my reading list.


The Good- what has been good about blogging? 

I love writing and putting together images, and my blog is a great way to keep up with that in a way that is less time consuming and stressful than writing articles and lectures. Aside from the pleasure of simply writing, it's also great fun looking at my viewer statistics. It is quite satisfying to see where my audience comes from. Sometimes I can guess who it is, for example when my relatives in Oregon have been reading, and I also get a lot of views from Edinburgh, York and Reading, the three places where I have worked, which I assume is from friends and colleagues who find my blog posts when I link to them on Facebook. And then there are the totally random views - Malaysia, South Korea, the Dominican Republic! Keywords people have searched for are also great fun - one of the funniest being Who is the Queen of Coprolites? Let's just hope they weren't actually searching for me with that one.

The Bad (and the Ugly!)

I've been lucky, no bad experiences so far. For the future I hope that I will get more interaction on my blog. I have started doing 'critique' posts where I share my thoughts on recently published articles, with the aim of getting a discussion going. Despite getting between 40 - 100 views per post (according to Blogger stats), I've only ever had 1 or 2 comments, from people I know. Most of the time I don't get any response. Maybe I am not interesting enough, or maybe I am not reaching the right audience? It's a little frustrating, but it doesn't bother me too much. For now I am blogging for my own pleasure, and hopefully over time I will get some good discussions going!

I wonder if one reason for the lack of interaction is that many people are unsure about posting opinions publicly? Unlike anonymous peer review, you are putting your name to your comments, and that can be quite daunting. I was in two minds at first whether to start my critique posts (e.g "Phytoliths don't cut the mustard?"). But if I am willing to critique papers during peer review, I should be willing to support my views publicly, right? Constructive criticism is a very necessary part of academic pursuit. I do worry that anything 'negative' I say could receive a bad reaction, but I would hope most people are willing to have an objective discussion. I think having a blog-based dialogue between opposing views could actually be more effective than blind peer review?

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