I still care about blogging

Yes, it’s true. Despite having dropped out of various social media universes this past few months, I still maintain that it’s critical for archaeologists and other professionals to blog. I should practice what I preach.

Aside from the fact that I’m crazy busy, my reticence about writing here lies in the fact that I’m spending a lot of time working on other blogs.

I’m managing two separate sites, including a blog for the Department of Archaeology here at Flinders University where I teach. It’s a moderated group blog, but they require management and time. I really like the way that this site is going though; most of the content is from students writing about their thesis research, work placements, field schools and so on and I’m happy to say that this is entirely unique in Australia, at least for an archaeology department. You should follow us, I’m really excited about this project, particularly as we transition to a self hosted blog later this year which will allow us to incorporate features that allow us to do more interesting things with teaching and learning.

I’m also spending an increasing amount of time preparing a new site for the Australian Archaeology Association (an update is long overdue) and also managed by WordPress. We do have web developers, thankfully, but I’m seeing a lot of the WP dash as we approach a launch in December.

In any case, I’m a little over WordPress at the moment.

I’ve been reading Scripting News regularly. It has nothing to do with archaeology but I enjoy the short-format style and Dave’s thoughts on US politics and the web. One point he makes regularly is the importance of owning your content so I’m shifting away from ‘3rd party services as content repositories’ to ‘3rd party services as distribution tools’ (for my content). In other words, I want to post/store more here and distribute it elsewhere. That way, I control my content.

So you can expect to see a lot more short posts, thoughts and ideas in Dave Winer style.

 

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Change in scenery

Over the past few years I’ve been based in Cairns, far north Queensland, working as a heritage advisor for Aboriginal community groups and developers. However the past several months have seen a bundle of changes in my life which revolve around a new position in the Department of Archaeology, Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia.

The new position involves lecturing in archaeology and cultural heritage management topics. I’ll be coordinating Indigenous Heritage Management, Cultural Heritage Management and an Indigenous archaeology field school over the next year (and no doubt a few others). Although I’ve only been in the role for a few weeks, I can see a lot of potential for linking some of my long-standing research interests with teaching activities and student research projects. We already have a graduate student to work on one of my community based heritage projects at Weipa, which I’ll encourage her to write about soon.

I doubt that I will formally meld my blogging interests with my teaching duties, largely because we use a Uni wide implementation of Blackboard. However, I do think that being in a fundamentally different head space will benefit my blogging. This is particularly the case because in order to teach well you need to read widely and engage with various debates and ideas in much more substantive ways than you can when you are a solo contract archaeologist. I also note with interest that the Department has a blog which boasts some of the work being carried out by students in the graduate programs in archaeology and cultural heritage. I hope to inject some social media into this equation in time, so that the work of students here gets more widely promoted.

I have also recently been reading a little on communicating archaeology and the importance of engaging with the public. It’s not something that I’ve explicitly set out to do here in the past – indeed this site has had one long identity crisis – however on reflection I think that it needs to become more oriented towards non-specialist audiences interested in things that interest me. It’s no fun writing if you don’t engage your readers. And Australian archaeology and Indigenous history is somewhat poorly represented and understood by non-professionals. As Lilley (2005: 100) has recently suggested, unless professionals become more active in this area, the discipline risks becoming “stuck in a groove, communicating only with an ever-decreasing circle of like-minded professional colleagues while continuing to bemoan public ignorance and lack of support”. Apt words indeed in the age of massively social media.

References:

Lilley, I., 2005. Archaeology and the politics of change in a decolonising Australia. In Object lessons: archaeology and heritage in Australia. Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, pp. 89-106. 

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Hello world!

Well, if you happened across this site during the past few days you will have received a ‘website not found’ error of some sort. My apologies for this: the reason is that I encountered some problems during a transfer from the site’s former home at wordpress.com to a self-hosted installation of wordpress with Laughing Squid. The problems seem to have been easily fixed, thanks largely to the wonderful tech help at Laughing Squid.

So what’s changed? At this stage, only the theme which is called ‘Amazing Grace’ by Vladimir Prelovac and which I think is quite stunning both in terms of design as well as backend functionality. There will be problems with my earlier posts, namely formatting errors and I suspect a lot of dead links and I will be working to fix these over the next week or so. Hopefully from here forward there will be no significant issues and I can get on with the task of writing and improving this site.

In terms of future plans: well not a lot will change in the short term. I’m eventually aiming to include more content on my business/consulting services and to redirect visitors here from my (poorly maintained) business website  (http://culturalheritage.com.au). I think it’s  more sensible to have one website, it certainly is a lot easier to keep content updated and tidy. Importantly, the content and motivation for this blog will remain the same, as described in About, and the blog will remain as the frontpage.

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An update

My apologies for the lengthy hiatus between posts on this site;  as followers of my twitter feed would be aware I have recently submitted my Doctoral thesis for examination, and the final stages of completing that needed to take precedence over blogging. However, with that behind me now I have time to start writing here again: there have been quite a few research papers published recently that I will endeavour to post as soon as possible, as well as a few half written posts that have been waiting to be completed.

Update: 15 October 2009

In the past week or so I have made some changes to the aims and purpose of this site and you can read all about those in the About section. I have also moved to a new domain (mickmorrison.com) and also have imported selected posts from my old blogger site. Before I can start posting again I need to edit these, this should be completed in the coming days.

I will also be adding separate permanent pages for each of my current research projects as well as details on publications, seminars, reports and so on.

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Fieldwork blogging hiatus

Because I’m not set up to blog whilst on fieldwork there may be a series of hiatus’ between posts over the next few months due to extensive fieldwork commitments. You see, here in north Queensland it is the late dry season, a lovely time of year that is often rapidly followed by the wet season when the monsoon moves south from the equator and it literally buckets down. It means that most archaeological fieldwork is difficult if not impossible between about January and April as creeks flood, roads are cut and grass everywhere grows about 1.5 metres in height.

From a fieldwork point of view it is good to get as much as you can done in the late dry season before it starts to rain in the wet and so I have scheduled quite a lot of fieldwork between now and December, both in Cape York, the Cairns area and in south western Queensland. It’s mostly work-related fieldwork however one of the research projects I am working on with Darlene McNaughton and Justin Shiner is an AIATSIS funded project investigating Indigenous wellbeing in an early 20th Century Presbyterian Mission. We are using oral history and archaeology to understand more about the impact of the mission on peoples’ wellbeing and plan on doing around 8 days on the site this year before it rains. We are working with the Anhatangaith Traditional Owners and have a few volunteers as well, so it will be a good trip.

I will try and write new posts as time and internet connections permit. I would recommend that irregular readers or people who have discovered my little blog for the first time subscribe using the link on the top right hand side. That way, next time I post, you will recieve it via email.

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Introduction

Welcome, this is a blog about all things archaeology and in particular, those that interest me and which relate to my research. I hope to use this as something of a record of my various and ongoing research projects as well as to share information which I think might interest others working on similar issues or areas.

I’ve been reading blogs since about 2003 and have had a couple of attempts at setting up and running them. Each time they faltered because they were too hard to maintain in terms of their subject content. But I think they’re good and important, particularly as an early career researcher. As far as I can tell this is the second archaeology blog by an Australian archy, the other being of course the long-running Space Age Archaeology which is run by one of my PhD supervisors at Flinders University – the great Dr Alice Gorman. Check it out – see my links list in the sidebar.

So if you happen to stumble upon this site then let me know what you think, what you like and dislike, and even consider starting one yourself: I hope this site can go some way to demonstrate the usefulness of blogging to academics and archaeologists.

So enough introductions, on with the blogging.

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