I was asked by my good friend (actually, one of my very best friends!!) Colleen to be on a panel about blogging at the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) meetings next April in Sacramento, California. This will be my first time presenting at a professional conference, although I suspect it will be a lot more casual than if I were to be presenting about an actual project, with data and research and all that. I did do a paper for the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research meetings back in 1993 (yes, I’m old), but that was about the Sendero Luminoso movement in Peru (ah, my fiery young idealistic self…coincidentally the leader of the movement was arrested about two weeks before my presentation, after I had finished my paper and research).
Anyway, I had to cut my abstract down to 100 words for the submission site, but here it is in full:
“In the practice of archaeology, engaging with the public is an important element. By doing so, archaeologists can help to explain the value of protecting cultural resources and the important data “in the ground.” However, this interaction can also benefit the work of the archaeologist, in understanding the perspective of other stakeholders, as well as revealing sources and data not readily apparent otherwise.
Blogging, although in many ways more of a soliloquy than a dialogue, is one way that archaeologists can and do reach out to the public. By sharing data, pictures, and stories, the everyday work of an archaeologist is exposed to any who are interested. The information is more personalized, and the exchange more dynamic, than a static presentation of results.
For American cultural resource management (CRM) professionals, blogging presents a challenge. The projects are often small and unexciting, and negative results are the norm. State and federal laws are a consideration when discussing site finds. Clients may have non-disclosure contracts associated with a project, or monitor the Internet for any references to project details and negative comments. Often, there’s a sense that you’re trying to reach out to a public that just isn’t there, or isn’t responding. The work is unpaid, and finding the energy to write after a long, hot field day can be a challenge.
However, blogging should become a more important part of the practice of CRM. Publicly funded projects in particular often require a public outreach component; blogging is a way of doing this real-time, and being more inclusive of the participants.”