The Not Quite Adventures of a Professional Archaeologist and Aspiring Curmudgeon

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Those two or three of you who still check in on this blog on a semi-regular basis are probably wondering why, after months, there is finally a new entry.  This Night of the Living Dead blog action is brought to you by Doug's Archaeology, who has organized a monthly blog carnival in the lead-up to the Society for American Archaeology annual meetings next year.  I will attempt to participate next month, as well.

This month, Doug has asked two questions, which I will attempt to answer, assuming that I can keep my natural blathering tendencies in check.  So, without further ado, the questions:

Why blogging? – Why did you, or if it was a group- the group, start a blog?

This blog did not originally start out as an archaeology blog, per se.  It was, and on those rare occasions when I update it, still remains a blog onto which I post pretty much whatever happens to be bugging me on any given day. Archaeology is a frequent subject simply because I am an archaeologist, and as a result it is often on my mind.

Blogging offered me an opportunity to do a few things:

1) Tell stories: Field work can be wonderful and exciting, but it is, at least as often, stressful and frustrating (at least if you are a supervisor). I realized that I had the opportunity to do a lot of things that other people could not, but I was often so stressed that I wasn't enjoying it. However, I found that even the worst field experience became considerably more tolerable when I realized that it would make a good story later. Blogging gave me an outlet for storytelling any time I needed it, which allowed me to better deal with stress, which, in turn, helped me focus on my job and be a better archaeologist.

2) Vent my spleen: As anyone who reads through my previous entries can see, I am something of a curmudgeon. I can be grumpy, and I am frequently irritated with the nonsense, pseudoscience, and pseudo-intellectual posturing that passes for public discourse on a variety of subjects. Having a place where I could develop my arguments and explain my opinions allowed me to better articulate my position, typically with less venom, when I was face-to-face with someone espousing dubious views. It also forced me to articulate my opinions, which often resulted in me thinking them through more carefully and sometimes changing my mind.

3) Entertain: I never had a huge following, but I did pick up some regular readers who seemed to enjoy what I was writing. Knowing that there were a few people out there who enjoyed my writing was, well, fun. It made the writing exciting. This is why many of my entries were completely humorous.

4) Inform: Archaeology is often misrepresented in the media, even by journalists who are genuinely trying to get it right. I enjoyed using this blog as a forum for trying to better explain issues. This was especially enjoyable with recent potentially pre-Clovis finds, where I found that I got a good deal of positive feedback from people who had been confused as to the nature of the issue and who didn't know who to believe.

I enjoyed blogging, and found that it made me a clearer thinker and better archaeologist.

Why are you still blogging?- or - Why have you stopped blogging? 

I have never formally stopped blogging...I just kind of haven't been doing it.

During the life of the blog, my reasons didn't change so much as shift. The numbered reasons above are in order of their original importance to me. If the original order was 1, 2, 3, 4, by late last year, when I stopped posting regularly, the order had probably changed to 4, 2, 1, 3.

As to why I haven't been posting regularly, well, the biggest reason for that is documented on this very blog. Becoming a father has taken up much of my free time, and what little free time I have left I have generally spent doing things other than writing.

In addition, I don't have quite as great a need to write. I still enjoy entertaining people, and I probably could stand to routinely research and write out my positions on various subjects (I realized recently that I have become a bit of an ideologue on a few issues - while I think that my position is correct and justifiable, I have a hard time understanding the opposing position, and therefore could probably stand to write things out).

However, the need to tell field stories as a way to deal with stress has become less important - I am a more seasoned and confident archaeologist, and no longer need to have quite the same outlet to deal with stress. While this reason for blogging became less important to me, it was nonetheless an impetus to continue writing. I have had a number of field experiences that make for great stories over the last year, but I no longer stress out over them the way that I used to, and as such don't have to re-frame them in my mind in order to maintain productivity.

I do enjoy writing, though, and keep promising myself that I will return to regular blog entries.  I just don't know when.