Friday, November 29, 2013

Blogging Archaeology: Why do I blog?

Blogging Archaeology
The Society for American Archaeology's 2014 conference will have a session dedicated to archaeological blogging.  As a precursor to this session, bloggers with archaeology themed blogs have been invited to participate in a blog carnival hosted on Doug's Archaeology. Each month a new question will be asked and bloggers can participate by writing a post dedicated to exploring that month's question or questions.  All of these blog posts will be collected and linked from a monthly wrap-up post on Doug's Archaeology.  For November, the questions and my answers are:

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

Original Elfshot Blog Banner
I started this blog in 2009 for several reasons.  One of the main reason's was a growing sense of detachment from my static website that was dedicated to my archaeology-themed flintknapped artifact reproductions and jewellery, called  My business name is simply Elfshot, but when I tried to register the domain name it was already taken, so I added the word "gallery" to recognize that the website would be acting as a sort of online portfolio or gallery of my work.  At one time I was comfortable programming in html and working with FTP clients to update and share content on the website, but over time it became a chore.  At the time I was heavily involved on the board of the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador and we were encouraging members to start blogging about their work.  It seemed like the quick and easy way to maintain a web presence that I was looking for.  So I started this blog for myself and my business, Elfshot.

Some of the first reproductions
profiled on this blog
I suppose I could say that I started the blog to communicate about the archaeological past with a public audience, but that's kind of a given.  The whole point of archaeology is to share what you find.  The truth is that I started this blog to fill several roles and all of them were selfish.  I wanted a portfolio of  Elfshot's artifact reproduction and jewellery work to show future clients.  In a similar vein, I wanted one place to link all the different online articles or profiles that may have been done on Elfshot in the past.  I'd also noticed that I didn't have a very good system of record keeping when I made a new type of reproduction and found myself repeating the same mistakes over and over again because I couldn't recall what did or did not work in the past.  When I start a new project, much of my process is trial and error, so I wanted to use this blog to record the things that I learned along the way so that I would not have to repeat the same mistakes the next time I worked on something similar.  That's still how I approach the majority of the blog posts that deal with making artifact reproductions.  I generally record the techniques or references that I think I'll need to know or remember the next time I work on a similar project.  Knowing that there are people other than myself reading the blog means that I make these notes in slightly more detail and plainer language than I might if I knew that I'd be the only person reading them.  

Why are you still blogging?

Still whittling away
I'm still blogging because I'm still working, I still have a poor memory and I still need to refer back to earlier posts for current jobs. This blog is still an ongoing notebook of experiments that either work or fail. Its evolved since I started and there are a handful of loyal readers who comment and who I learn from. The blog has lead to opportunities and contacts that I would not have had otherwise. More often than not, when I hear from someone new about some aspect of archaeology or inquiring about artifact reproductions they make reference to seeing my work on this blog. It still fills its role as a personal notebook and a marketing tool.

Its drifted over the years as I've done more fieldwork and Elfshot has been able to focus more on one-of-a-kind artifact reproductions and less on wholesale jewellery. Which I'm happy with. I enjoy exploring archaeological topics and meeting archaeologists through blogging.

Same old calendar
As a self-employed craftsperson through most of the year, I also appreciate the structure that blogging adds to my workweek. I force myself to blog every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, which creates a framework that I can hang the rest of my week on. I can not begin to count the times where the only reason I accomplished something in the workshop on Monday morning was so that I would have something to write about on Monday afternoon. Blogging keeps me accountable and on task. Some days it feels like I have a boss looming over my shoulder demanding progress and updates, but at least it keeps me focused on my job and gives me deadlines in a job where deadlines can be few and far between.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

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