It is February (still), which means that it’s the 4th month in the blogging archaeology carnival initiated by Doug’s Archaeology blog (you can see how to take part here; and you can read the answers to January question here).
Usually, there is a specific question to answer, but this month we had the liberty to write about anything blogging archaeology related. Coincidence (or not), a relevant case came up a week ago: a paper in the American Journal of Human Biology, Engaging Bodies in the Public Imagination: Bioarchaeology as Social Science, Science, and Humanities tackling the blogging in Bioarchaeology issue, a paper followed by a reaction of some of the main figures of Bioarchaeology blogging (read more here).
The reason I chose to re-mention this, for the purpose of the Blogging carnival, is that I would like to stress one aspect brought forth by the whole “incident”: the relationship between the classic written media (a journal article) and the blogging environment. There are not too many instances in which blogging archaeology (or any other social media as a matter of fact) hit the “serious” journal articles. Therefore, the good part of this paper was the reaction it stirred and the ”dialogue” between a printed piece in traditional media and the on-line community (I wished only that this situation became known a little better, as I think it is a very relevant topic for debate).
On the other hand, this also highlighted the gap that exists, in most cases, between those involved in “real academic” work and the ones doing the popular science stuff, often through blogging. More precisely,”real” science is still associated with the classic means of communication- journal articles, intended for one’s peers, while “popular” science is associated with the more modern means of communication, like blogging, media etc.There are several reasons for this, but the most important I think is that we (in the academic community) have yet failed to embrace the whole “going public” responsibility. Thus, because each of these means of communication has a different audience and employs a different language, they are viewed as holding various degrees of respectability. It doesn’t even matter that blogs such as Powered by Osteons, These Bones of Mine, Bones Don’t Lie, Deathsplanation, Doug’s Archaeology, Digital Public Archaeology or Field of Work are written by PhD students or scholars involved in academic/field work- they do not count as “serious” stuff (because popular science is not as important as the other one; read more about this here)
We shall see what the future has in store for us, but I think the open access on-line journals (such as the Present Pasts Journal or AP: Online Journal in Public Archaeology) are the step forward which will contribute decisively to closing the gap, by moving the whole academic content on-line, making it accessible and available for a broader audience.
Credit: the credit of this blog post’s featured image goes to These Bones of Mine.