This post is the second question in the Blogging Archaeology Carnival hosted by Doug’s Archaeology. You can read a summary of questions from last month’s carnival on why we blog and learn more about this month’s question on his website.
For December, we’re talking about the good, the bad, and the ugly of blogging. If you’ve been blogging for a while or even just started out, there are parts of this type of media that are positive, there are comments that inspire you, and then there are times when you question whether you should keep blogging. This is an open discussion of all those different positive and negative facets of blogging.
The Good: There are so many positive things I want to say about blogging for Bones Don’t Lie, but I’m going to summarize just a few of my highlights.
- The Audience: This is probably one of the best things, but also one of the most surprising. Throughout writing the blog an amazing and interactive audience of readers (you guys!) has followed my work. My readers always offering their insights and experiences with similar archaeological or historical sites. They also alert me to mistakes and help me correct them. The blog is a learning experience for me as well, so its always appreciated when I receive constructive criticism. In addition to this, my audience has been extremely supportive. I was worried that when I took a two week break to take my comprehensive exams that I would lose readers, instead I got amazing reinforcement and feedback from dozens of you! It really made me feel a lot more confident and was a great outpouring of support!
- Improved Writing: I’ve talked about the benefits of blogging on GradHacker before, specifically how it will improve your ability to coherently critique and write about scholarly works. Having taking my comprehensive exams last month, I am so glad that I have been practicing writing twice a week for the past three years. Blogging has given me the ability to critique a journal article, summarize the key points and write it up quickly. Also, having an audience means you are being peer-reviewed in a way, and that always helps your writing.
- Other Good: There have been some other cool things that have come out of blogging for Bones Don’t Lie. I was contacted by the TV Show ‘Bones’ to give advice about whether a specific bone process can naturally occur (won’t give it away in case it is used in an episode). I’ve been asked to attend conferences based on people who found the blog, and I’ve consulted on books for people who need advice on archaeology or bone-related topics. Finally, I get quite a number of early stage students and undergraduates who want advice on becoming an archaeologist, and I love talking to them about pursuing this field. I am always happy to share knowledge and talk about mortuary and bioarchaeology- never be shy about contacting me!
The Bad: Honestly, I haven’t had much bad come from blogging. In general it has been a rewarding activity and I look forward to new journal articles and discussions. But here are some of the issues I’ve faced once in a while.
- Lack of Material: Some mornings I sit down at my laptop with my big pink MSU mug, and I stare at a blank screen because I have no idea what I’m going to write about. When you’ve been writing twice a week for three years, sometimes you run out of things to say. I find an awesome journal article, and then realize I reviewed a similar one in 2011. It can be tough finding material some days. On that note though- if you have topics you want to learn about or a new journal article you’d like me to review, feel free to ask! I always love when people send me material!
- Time: If you’ve been following for years, you’ve probably noticed in the last few months I’m not always publishing twice a week. Due to my schedule as a grad student, my quarter time job, and two fellowships, I don’t have much extra time. Maintaining a blog is extremely time consuming. There are so many things I would love to add to Bones Don’t Lie, but due to time I’m putting them off. I really want to publish a book version of the blogs for people, I would love to start doing video summaries and interviews, and I think it’d be fun to have some t-shirts or swag- but all this will have to wait until I have more time to spare on extra projects.
In general, blogging for Bones Don’t Lie has been an amazing experience. I am truly grateful for my wonderful audience, and I look forward to expanding and improving the blog in the future!