January 21, 2014

10 Years A Blog

Filed under: On blogging — acagle @ 8:45 pm

Not sure I have a whole lot to say on all this. But I probably will blather anyway!

January 22, 2004. What was I doing then? I was working at King County EMS doing various forms of cardiac arrest research and was three years out from getting my PhD. I’d just had my dissertation published. Probably still working on a Dell laptop with Windows 95. Had also just bought a house a little less than a year before with the soon-to-be ArchaeoWife. I had just entered my 40s. My dad was a year and a half from passing into the Great Unknown.

“Blogging” was relatively new and was mostly in the domain of ‘young people’ who started posting links to various web sites they’d visited. Literally a Web-Log, not necessarily lots of writing and being something of a journalist, as these things have developed. I didn’t have grand ambitions — seriously anyway; I half-fancied I’d be ‘discovered’ here and end up rich and famous from it. Alas. . . — mostly I just wanted to keep up with archaeology while I was doing public health research, and feed my need for attention. Well, mostly I feel somewhat obsessive about writing junk at people. At first I thought I’d link nearly everything I came across that had some archaeological component, something like a clearinghouse for all things archaeological. And I did for a while, grabbing whatever I could from wherever I could.

That was on Blogger.com which I used because I didn’t know how to set up my own web site and it was free. Ended up being more trouble than it was worth when they got all security-panicked and started making me — ME THE FRICKIN’ BLOG OWNER — constantly use capcha things whenever I posted anything. Tried getting ahold of someone there but it was impossible so I said (pardon the French) “Fuck ‘em” and moved over to my own site, which I had up by that time. It’s worked out okay here, except for some security issues, but nothing serious.

Through that time I’ve had many ups and downs. I’ve come to learn I probably have moderate anxiety disorder, which explains a LOT over the last ten years (and much in my life), mostly having to do with not having direction after getting my degree and letting it get the better of me. Actually, ArchaeoBlog was one thing that caused me much anxiety: whenever I switched jobs (and I did a few times in the last decade for this very reason) I’d have conniptions over whether I’d still be able to post at ArchaeoBlog! Sheesh. I almost dumped it a couple times, but felt compelled to come back and keep at it.

So, here I am. I’ve tried to avoid politics as much as possible, even though it would probably bring more visitors (and spam and flames and. . .), but I refuse to let it pollute this little corner of the Interwebs (not that anyone gives a rat’s ass what I think about politics). Honestly, however, unlike probably 99.9% of bloggers I don’t obsess over my hit count; matter of fact, I haven’t looked at how many people visit this place in years. So it could be three of you for all I know. I’ve thought about hooking up with some larger media sites, making affiliating through PJ Media or something like that but I never got up the energy to actually do anything about it.

My greatest ‘problem’ is deciding what direction I should take this. I’d link to other archaeological blogs, but I (he sheepishly admits) don’t really read any on a regular basis. I’d like to link to academic papers, but most people can’t get access to the actual papers, so I think that’s not terribly productive. And summarizing an entire paper takes an awful lot of time. So I restrict my self to mostly news articles and the odd web site here and there. Which I think is probably most useful anyway. I had a professor once who worked on the committee deciding on grant funding for three years and he said that, while it was a lot of work, he’d never felt as plugged in to what all was going on in archaeology. I feel the same way from here: trolling for stories over the years has really given me a wide swath of knowledge about what’s going on out there. In some ways, I find that more fulfilling than knowing what’s going on with just the academic side of archaeology.

And one last note, since I see this is kind of running on (and on and on and on. . .): I think this sort of forum is critically important for archaeologists to participate in. Many many many academic archaeologists would, I think, dearly love to see themselves as The Expert whose word is the final say on anything archaeological and all you yabobs out there in the farfreluches can just shut up and listen to your betters. They won’t readily admit that, but most have egos the size of Montana and think that after getting that “PhD” after their name they deserve some respect. Well, you don’t. You have to earn respect and expert status by always respecting the general public and all their differing opinions and knowledge bases. You have to convince them with decent arguments, not just Shut Up, I Have a PhD and You Don’t. People will listen when you act like a fellow human being out to make sense of the world. There are a few jerks out there (well, more than a few and they often are the loudest), but most are willing to listen and learn. . . .as long as they think you’ll do the same.

So thanks for reading. I’ll try to come up with more fun links. And see what happens in 2024.

January 16, 2014

Joining the carnival

Filed under: On blogging — acagle @ 10:06 am

Apparently there’s a Blogging Archaeology session at this year’s SAAs and I’ve been invited to join a carnival of archaeology blogging. See here. This month’s question is:
What are your best (or if you want your worst) post(s) and why? Compare and contrast your different bests/worsts.

Probably this one:

Seidemann notes that (1) and 2(b) probably would not be substantially affected by the new regulation. However, (2a) “could be substantially affected by the proposed change [by allowing] for the repatriation of items regardless of their cultural or genetic affilation, simply by virtue of their location on tribal lands”; and 2(c) “could allow for repatriation claims by nonculturally affilated groups whose Native American ancestors once occupied the same land as those of a pre-Native American group”.

Hmmmm. At first glance, we don’t know how 2(a) would be different from what it is now, largely due to our ignorance of the way the law now works. We assume that anything found on tribal lands belongs to the tribe in much the same way that whatever is found on private property belongs to the land owner. We could, of course, be mistaken in this.

Errrrrm, that was when I first started and was using the royal “we” as sort of a joke. That was also when I did a lot of essay-type posts rather than the short link-driven ones I’ve been doing. But as you can see, Instapundit linked to it and my hit-count went from something like 130/day to over a thousand. They used to call that an “Instalanche”. I still like that series of posts on the new NAGPRA wording and don’t disagree with my analysis even at this late date. I was probably a bit naive that the Powers That Be were acting in good faith though. It also got picked up by some other places, at least one of which kind of ripped me for not being wholeheartedly against the change.

Worst one? What?

Okay, one of my first posts I made fun of shell midden side walls. A couple commenters ripped me for not knowing anything (even though I was trained on a shell midden). That made me start to get more detached and not so snarky for a while. I’ve since settled on “Eh, f*** ‘em if they can’t take a joke”. You know.

January 15, 2014

Blast from the past: My addiction

Filed under: On blogging — acagle @ 4:31 pm

A word about my addiction

Gentle readers, I must now confess to you a secret of most profound importance that may forever influence how you read this blog and view its humble proprietor. A secret so deep and dark that I hesitate even as I type this.

It all started in the late 1980s when I was first transplanted to Washington state as a green young graduate student. I didn’t know anyone, no job, no place to live, a complete new start in a new place. The first year or two of graduate school was, indeed, difficult; every nightmare I had ever had about the rigors of grad school came to fruition. Lots of lonely days and nights and weekends spent studying arcane (not to mention boring and pedantic) scribblings on all manner of archaeological trivialities. Stressful in the extreme. Did I belong there? Could I hack it? Would I survive comps? It all made me question the road I had taken, one into a weird profession where future employment was uncertain at best.

So in those times of dark and dreary nights spent pondering many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten archaeological lore, I turned to something that. . .took the edge off a bit. Something that soothed my furrowed brow and made the hours a little easier to take.


September 3, 2013

The Holy Grail. . . . found

Filed under: On blogging — acagle @ 7:07 pm



A spam commenter seems to have accidentally included the entire base code for generating random but vaguely normal-sounding spam comments. Well played sir. . . . .well played.

Much follows the bump:

{I have|I’ve} been {surfing|browsing} online more than
{three|3|2|4} hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours.

{It’s|It is} pretty worth enough for me. {In my
opinion|Personally|In my view}, if all {webmasters|site owners|website owners|web owners} and bloggers made good content as you did,
the {internet|net|web} will be {much more|a lot more} useful than ever before.|
I {couldn’t|could not} {resist|refrain from}
commenting. {Very well|Perfectly|Well|Exceptionally well} written!|
{I will|I’ll} {right away|immediately} {take hold of|grab|clutch|grasp|seize|snatch} your {rss|rss feed}
as I {can not|can’t} {in finding|find|to find} your {email|e-mail} subscription {link|hyperlink}
or {newsletter|e-newsletter} service. Do {you have|you’ve} any?
{Please|Kindly} {allow|permit|let} me {realize|recognize|understand|recognise|know} {so that|in
order that} I {may just|may|could} subscribe. Thanks.|
{It is|It’s} {appropriate|perfect|the best} time to make
some plans for the future and {it is|it’s} time to be happy.
{I have|I’ve} read this post and if I could I {want to|wish to|desire to} suggest you
{few|some} interesting things or {advice|suggestions|tips}.
{Perhaps|Maybe} you {could|can} write next articles referring to this article.

August 8, 2013

“The fact remains that hardly anybody ever reads Melville, whereas nearly everyone has read Twain”

Filed under: Academia, On blogging — acagle @ 3:35 pm

What’s a Blog Post Worth?

But let’s pause for a moment to consider a rhetorical question: Which ultimately does more good—an article or monograph that is read by 20 or 30 people in a very narrow field, or a blog post on a topic of interest to many (such as grading standards or tenure requirements) that is read by 200,000? What if the post spurs hundreds of comments, is debated publicly in faculty lounges and classrooms, and gets picked up by newspapers and Web sites across the country—in other words, it helps to shape the national debate over some hot-button issue? What is it worth then?

My argument is not that learned monographs have no value (of course they do, whether widely read or not), or that blog posts are somehow superior as “scholarship” (of course they’re not), but simply that we might be selling online publications short if we assume they’re worthless purely because they’re online.

Althouse links to this article. It’s kind of interesting, but I also thought the answer (stated in the second quoted paragraph) was rather obvious and has been for some time. Do many/most academics not know this?

BTW, I am still wading through Moby Dick. Parts of it are brilliant and an absolute joy to read, but it’s so filled with uninteresting junk that it takes me a while to force my way through the stupid parts. I think a decent editor could make it worth reading by far more people.

And I’ve only read a few bits of Twain (mostly Roughing It).

July 15, 2013

A bloggiversay

Filed under: On blogging — acagle @ 10:31 am

One that I never visited but here it is: Living online for 10 years.

ArchaeoBlog’s 10th is coming up in February, although I doubt I’ll mark it with anything special, even assuming that I fail to follow historical precedent and let it slip by unnoticed once again.

November 2, 2012

A note on isolation and connectivity

Filed under: Egypt, On blogging — acagle @ 11:12 am

Today I almost got into a session of just clicking around to various web sites to waste time. Imagine that: sitting in a dig house in Egypt futzing around online out of (sort of) boredom. It got me thinking more about the nature of fieldwork and the newfound connectivity we have here. When I came here in 1988 for the first time, we really were cut off from the world. No telephone, no mail, and only a short wave radio for outside information and/or entertainment. I just about went batty. Things weren’t really all that different for me until 2003 when there were internet cafes at least in Maadi (suburb of Cairo) where we were based, so at least at the end of the day I could, for a few shekels, send and receive emails. That was great because I could get news from the home front on a daily basis and keep the project PI informed of what we were doing. It was still a slow connection so web surfing was pretty much out, but the contact was very welcome, but at the same time we were still kind of isolated.

Fast forward to now, and I have 3G nearly all the time so at least as far as sitting in front of a computer is concerned, it’s not much different from being home. I can send and receive email all day if I’m here, surf whatever web sites I want, and actually freely Skype with the ArchaeoWife whenever I want (although it’s pretty much restricted to Saturday or Sunday night for me, due to the time difference).

It’s only the last few days that I’ve been doing more web surfing. I still value just being out of the loop and concentrating just on the tasks at hand. OTOH, in the previous post I related how I was using Google Translate to work through a French publication. I would have been dead in the water before this. Plus, that remoteness can be trying after a while; I think after the third week the novelty of being in a strange place wears off and you start looking for familiar things again.

So, I shall try to refrain from randomly web surfing as I don’t want to end up ‘doing the same things I do back home’; living and working in a very different, and very much simpler environment for a while has doe me a world of good and I want to keep it that way. For five more weeks.

And fer Christsakes at least I can totally avoid any election crap. . . . . .

September 30, 2012

This just in. . . .

Filed under: On blogging — acagle @ 3:10 pm

ArchaeoWife: “Hey, did you know that ArchaeoBlog was ranked in the Top 30 Archaeology Blogs of 2011?”

Me: “How many were there, 31?”

Narrowly edging out Billy Bob’s Archaeology Blog.

Mr. Ego. . . . .

April 4, 2012

On “Biblioblogging”

Filed under: Biblical archaeology, On blogging — acagle @ 6:51 pm

Scholars Aim to Bust Archaeological Fantasies

On February 28, archaeologist James Tabor and documentary filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici held a news conference in New York to announce the discovery of a first century tomb in the East Talpiot neighborhood of Jerusalem—and the publication of a book suggesting a connection between the tomb and the family of Jesus. Reaction was swift.

Andrew Vaughn, the executive director of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR), named Eric Meyers, an archaeologist at Duke University, and Christopher Rollston, an epigrapher at Emmanuel Christian Seminary, as guest editors of the ASOR blog for the month of March, to provide a platform for scholars to react to the Talpiot tomb story.

That’s a great use of blogging, IMO. Not really “popular” as in a short, edited magazine article, nor a long jargon-filled journal article, but a nice way for experts to argue with one another in an informal way that the general public can follow.

January 14, 2012

Great minds think (pretty much) alike

Filed under: On blogging — acagle @ 10:17 am

It’s Althouse.Blogspot.com’s birthday! #8 to be exact, and she beat ArchaeoBlog by a mere 8 days. I wonder if I’ll remember this blog’s birthday on the 22nd? Probably not, I think I remembered it once before this. OTOH, now that I’ve actually looked it up a few days in advance, maybe I’ll do something special. . . .like, inserting a jpg of a birthday cake. You know, something special.

FWIW, I’ve been working on my second survey report. The place I’ve been doing some work for has been letting me (ha! more on that later) write up the reports on some of the projects I’ve done — in addition to acting as the field supervisor or only person doing it — and the first couple were monitoring things so the reports were fairly brief. I learned on the last one that survey reports need to be much more detailed and have a LOT more background, though they tell me that eventually all of them will probably need to be quite extensive, this coming from the State office. So, there needs to be background on the local history, prehistory, geomorphology and soils, geology, blah blah blah, in addition to the data from the actual shovel probes. My first one I kinda screwed up — well, scratch that, I did screw it up — by forgetting to insert the actual probe data and leaving in the old data from a different project whose final report I was using as a template. And it got submitted! Oops. So this one I’m doing now is taking a while because I’m making sure every i is dotted and every t crossed. Part of the problem with the last one was, in addition to it being my first full survey report, I had a couple other projects going at the same time and it was a bit much for a newbie. But, eh, that’s part of the learning process, I guess.

Anyway, congrats to Althouse! Another Badger in the blogosphere. Maybe we should call it the BadgerSphere!

UPDATE: Comment by a reader: Lastly, as someone who has tried, and given up numerous times- I salute your dogged ability to keep writing….everyday. Even with a day job. :)

Ha! It’s also known as OCD. . . .

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