Posts Tagged With: blogging

Debunking, Blogging, and Public Outreach: Blogging Archaeology Carnival 2014!

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Sadly, I won’t be making the SAA‘s in Texas next year. Neither will my friend Doug over at Doug’s Archaeology, but he came up with a great idea for those of us who can’t make, something called a blogging carnival and he’s hosting the first round of questions for November (Which is also Movember, so get to growing guys).  If you’re a blogger focused on archaeology, you should definitely head over to his post about the carnival and join in. As for me:

To Blog or not To Blog.

I’m not sure I’ve ever done a whole post explaining this. It’s kind of hidden all over the blog in the About sections and such.  I started this blog 4 years (going on 5) ago now because I got really excited about the Skeptical and Atheist movements on the internet. I started with making videos on YouTube, which take a lot of time to make and edit. I didn’t really like it, and personally, the Atheist and Skeptical communities on YouTube started having issues and I didn’t really want to be part of the in-fighting, so I bowed out. I’m a writer anyway. Blogging just seemed like a natural choice to jump too.

When I made the decision to open this blog I realized I had to revamp the way I was doing things. I original wanted to create a space where people could come and get solid information on topics that are often avoided or not thought about by professional archaeologists.  Blogging is a great place for this; citations appear in-line, references are written out, you can link to important sites, also the text of the blog is searchable, and you can link things together easier. Blogging was just the better medium for a topic as difficult as debunking.

Blogs also allow for better organization of topics. I handle several reoccurring topics here, the two biggest being Women in Archaeology and Weird Archaeology which both branch into subtopics like Mother’s of the Field and The 10 Most Not-So-Puzzling Ancient Artifacts. I can group all of the individual posts together to make them more readable as groups, not something easily done on YouTube at the time.  I also have more control over the blog. I can moderate the comments better, respond quicker, and in general have better conversations with my readers.

You Haven’t Left Yet?

Why am I still blogging? Because I feel I am filling a gap in the archaeological community.

We archaeologists tend to forget that there are people out there who are not archaeologists, and who don’t understand why we say the things we do. There are a lot of blogs out there in the topic of archaeology and CRM that mainly focus on discussing the topic among educated archaeologists. I learn a lot about sub-fields and new research techniques, all of which is perfectly understandable to me because I’ve done this a while now. But if you’re just a random person with an interest in archaeology and you don’t want to be talked to like a 1st grader, there isn’t a whole lot out there aimed at you.

I’m not knocking websites and organizations that try to teach kids about archaeology, I even do it in my spare time. But a 30 year old isn’t a child.

Carl Sagan mentioned in his book Demon Haunted World how he got picked up at the airport by a driver who was completely ignorant of science, yet loved the topic. The only sources of information on the topic of science this driver had access to were pseudoscience and woo. Sagan didn’t blame the driver for his lack of formal education, he blamed the scientific community for not providing better access to real science to the lay person.

We have a very similar problem in the Archaeological community. Because we are not more accessible to the public we have issues with aliens, Atlantians, ethnocentrism, looting, and validating our field of study to governments. The other side of this coin is that we so rarely prepare students and professionals to talk with members of the public. We’re great talking to each other and presenting papers and posters, but when was the last time you genuinely explained to an individual outside of our community why we don’t dig for dinosaurs or pan for gold? People don’t know how we know what we know, and they are earnestly interested. I’m not saying things aren’t improving as time goes on, but it’s not where I think it should be yet.

Kenneth Feder in a recent article in the SAA’s membership magazine made a call for archaeologists to really step up to the plate. He took the responsibility of knowing bad archaeology from good away from the lay person and placed it squarely with us. We need to answer the awkward questions about the unintentional racism in ‘alternate  explanations’ for the building of Native earthworks. We need to answer the strange questions about ancient alien technology. We need to explain simple terms and concepts to  lay people because they don’t know what we do. We need to do this with a touch of humor and a lot of solid information, people like information.

So that’s why I’m still here. I like tackling psuedoarchaeology, it’s always entertaining and it’s a great way to teach critical thinking. I like talking about women archaeologists because it’s a giant hole in our history and it helps show people that there is more to archaeology then a bunch of stuffy old white guys (nothing against the stuffy old white guys in archaeology).

I’m going to keep at this too, for basically the same reasons, expanding the focus of this blog as I go. I’m thinking T-shirts…

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Categories: Archaeology, Blogging, Rants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Obligatory Happy Post-Apocalyptic Greetings!

I’m pleased to see so many of us survived the Mayan Doom Day known far and wide as the day the Mayan Calender ended, and then nothing of note happened. I hope despite that disappointing climax we all managed to have a happy holiday and new year. I saw the New Year in with an excellent Roller Derby match, but our team rocks so it wasn’t hard to have great match.

Traditionally, the new year is a time to have your fortune read so you know what to expect in the upcoming year, and since we here at Archyfantasies are big fans of astrology and ancient fortune telling methods, lets see what the stars say is in-store for us this year.

2013 is the year of the Snake in China, specifically the Water Snake. According to BILL HAJDU over at Astrology.com:

“Snake is the Yin to last year’s Dragon Yang. That said, Snake does not settle for mediocrity, either. We’re likely to see significant developments in the area of science and technology this year. Research and development are apt to flourish. his is a Water year as well, the element most closely associated with education and research, making 2013 a very special year for scientists and scholars.”

Lucky me, this year I’m working on research in several different related areas. Good to know the universe is with me in this. Should make things easier.

But wait! Wizzley.com has a different story:

“The Mayans got it wrong. It wasn’t 2012 that was going to be a year of disaster but the year of the water snake. Snake years aren’t the best in the calendar for most; and it’s definitely the year lucky charms are going to be a must. Some zodiac animals will navigate the water snake year more smoothly than others. For most it’s going to be a very slow moving year with unexpected obstacles surfacing at the most inopportune moments.”

Oh those silly Mayans, they can’t get anything right. Apparently neither can the Chinese. Or maybe it’s just the people trying to predict the future biased on fables, who knows. Either way, we’re going to accept the first set of predictions, they’re much more friendly, and look at what Archyfantasies has coming up for real.

Look to the year to be filled with a variety of different posts. On top of my random Tales of Grad-School, we’re going to enjoy a more regular posting scheduled filled with more fun debunking of pseudo-archaeology. Next week we’ll have the first in our new series “Columbus was Second-ish: Who Discovered America Anyway?“. In it we’ll be going over the various claims from different cultures about who really got to this rock first. Was it the Vikings? The Chinese? The Polynesians? Aliens? (I’m pulling for the Vikings!) The real winner might surprise you.

We’re also going to flesh out the Women in Archaeology category, focusing the first part of the year on Mothers of the Field. I had a lot of great responses to the Mary Anning post I did last year, and I really want to build on that. Sometimes it’s hard to find information about the early mothers, but even if it’s just a paragraph, it’s worth the effort to illuminate the sometimes hidden contributions of women in the field of archaeology.

New-ish this year is the Weekly Round Ups. I read a lot during the week, and some of it is pretty interesting, so I thought I’d share. I really started this in December, but there’s not reason not to continue it. You can also send me your favorite articles, I like sharing!

The really new stuff is going to happen over at the ArchyFantasies YouTube Channel. I’ve been unhappy with the format of the channel for a long time now, so I’ve sat down a re-thought about it and I’ve come up with some great ideas. We’re going to keep our usual videos that cover our Weird Archaeology and current series, and I’m adding videos about the Women in Archaeology series.

One of the new shows we’re planning is Experiments in Archaeology. Fun little experiments that break down archaeological concepts into understandable pieces for people. I may even have a few special guests over the year. I’m pretty excited about this, on top of being fun I think they will be very informational.

Lastly, We’re rolling out a Q&A video twice a month. If you’ve got a question about pseudoarchaeology or pseudoscience, send it to me at archyfantaises@gmail.com and I’ll do my best to answer them. You might even spark a new Weird Archaeology video/post.

So with that, I hope the year of the Water Snake is more like Bill’s prediction for you, and if not, maybe you just need to get your chakras balanced…or something like that.

Categories: Columbus was Second-ish: Who Discovered America Anyway, Rants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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