A Digital Morning

As per usual in the digital humanities, I am up early wrangling my blog into shape. I find that blogs are the most tender and tasty when they are harvested early in the morning before fatigue and cynicism set it.

My post this morning will be on my current writing project which is titled “Blogs to Books” and reflects on the interplay between blogging and the next generation of academic publishing in my field of archaeology. It’s being co-authored by my friend and visionary publishing guru, Andrew Reinhard, who is the director of publications for the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

Yesterday, I posted an awkward little summary of my thoughts on the intersection of blogging and community. I have this idea that bloggers function as a community of practice defined by the interaction of habits, medium, and genre of blogging. The community of archaeological bloggers define themselves by linking to one another’s work, contributing to scholarly discussions of blogging

Today, I’ve been playing with the idea of speed in the context of blogging in archaeology. Traditionally, academic archaeologists have moved rather slowly to publish their findings. The reasons for this are complex. Some of this comes from the expense and complexity of graphically involved archaeological publications. Some of this comes from the slow pace of collecting data in the field and the limited time allowed for this process. Reducing friction and costs from publication has begun to change expectations for how archaeological projects communicate the knowledge that they produce.

I am arguing that the lack of both institutional and technological friction in the publishing of blogs has allowed archaeologists to publish directly from “the trowel’s edge”, present ongoing research to an audience in an exploratory mode, and to circulate pre-publication manuscripts to the community. These changes in practice have begun to the place and pace of scholarly communication in our field, but have also produced well-know challenges. Academic institutions are still unsure what to do with digital products some of which are the process of research as much as the product. Host countries have likewise struggled to balance control over their cultural property in digital media and the need to publish archaeological finds promptly and efficiently.

So despite a decade and a half of blogging archaeologists, certain challenges remain and the potential of the platform and the medium remains unfulfilled.