A burnin’ ring of fire: Four Stone Hearth 115

Ring of Fire / Johnny Ainsworth

Welcome everyone to the 115th Four Stone Hearth Blogging carnival! (my apologies for the Johnny Cash reference).

For the uninitiated, the Four Stone Hearth is:

a blog carnival that specializes in anthropology in the widest (American) sense of that word. Here, anthropology is the study of humankind, throughout all times and places, focussing primarily on four lines of research:

  • archaeology
  • socio-cultural anthropology
  • bio-physical anthropology
  • linguistic anthropology

The Hearth is an important institution among anthropology bloggers, and dates back to somewhere around the early Holocene (2006) when anthro blogging began to get serious.

It’s an interesting exercise to browse through some of the earlier editions of the Hearth, which were run by many bloggers who are still around today: Anthropology.net, Afarensis, Aardvarchaeology, Hot Cup of Joe, Greg Laden, John Hawks and many others. If you’re not familiar with the Hearth, I would urge you to browse through some of the earlier editions to get a taste of what it’s all about.

Some say the Hearth is diminishing in its appeal, and if so I’m not exactly sure why. I suspect part of it is due to a more diverse social media that has reduced the need for anthro bloggers to congregate and chat around a central Hearth, so to speak. This edition is relatively strong and I hope it continues this way into the foreseeable future. It’s too great an institution to let it languish .

We have a range of topics today with contributors reflecting on themes as varied as space archaeology, Christian religious rituals, stone artefact caches, gambling, and much more. Please take the time to read through what our contributors have to offer; I’ve tried to keep my overviews of their posts  short in the hope that you visit their blogs and read what it is that they have to say.

So please enjoy!

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Four Stone Hearth 115 this week

A gentle reminder about the upcoming Four Stone Hearth blog carnival that I’m hosting here this week. The post will go up on Wednesday/Thursday Australian time, so please try to get your contributions to me within the next few days. I’m collating them now, so if you have something that you have written yourself, or a post that you have found that you think should be included, contact me on twitter or via my contact form.

This is the first time that I have hosted 4SH here. I briefly toyed with the idea of a themed carnival however it seems to have been a proposal that regular contributors either missed or may not have agreed with, so I am looking forward to seeing the usual diverse range of posts from across the anthropology ecosystem. If you have a post that you would like to promote that relates broadly to anthropology (in the American sense) please consider posting it here. It’s very easy and takes no time at all…

To be frank, I’m a little ambivalent about 4SH and I wonder if the carnival is diminishing in its appeal. I suspect this is in part due to changes in the way anthropologists are using the web; a few years ago, blogging was the key mechanism that anthropologists used to build and participate in online communities however an increasingly diverse social media has perhaps diluted the importance of these kinds of carnivals. Does 4SH need to shift a little to keep up?

In this edition I’d like to include contributions in the form of collections of twitter posts. Thus, if you’ve been using a hashtag to tweet about a  conference, field trip, or project that you are involved in please point it out to me or (even better) write a blog post that pulls them together.

Four Stone Hearth – a themed anthropology blog carnival

Four Stone Hearth is a long running blog carnival that focuses upon anthropology in the American sense: that is, archaeology, bio/social/cultural anthropology and linguistics. I am hosting it here on the 30th March.

In this edition of 4SH I am considering asking for contributions around a theme of broader interest and importance to anthropology. However, rather than being too prescriptive, I am thinking of this as something like a special edition of a journal – in blog form – that is loosely focussed around the theme. I certainly don’t want to discourage people from contributing the kinds of posts that they would normally submit to 4SH so if you would rather use 4SH just as you have always done, I will happily include contributions that are wildly off-topic!

Part of the challenge will be to identify themes or issues that are of wide relevance and interest. I have some preliminary ideas, however as we have a little time to spare I thought I would see what other people think. Here are my thoughts:

1) The future of the Hearth. There have been some concerns raised about the carnival declining a little in popularity. Is it, and if so, what do you consider to be the key problems and opportunities associated with 4SH? Where did it originate, how it be improved and what contribution has it made? I’d like – in part – to pick up on some of the issues raised in Krystal D’Costa’s recent post as well for people to reflect on the history and the future of 4SH.

2) Digital innovations. How have you incorporated digital technologies into how you do what you do in terms of collecting, managing, analysing and interpreting your ‘data’ (whatever that may be!). The Paperless Archaeology approach is one that many archaeologists have become interested in, so what new or perhaps not so well known digital approaches have you taken on board in your work? Tell us!

3) Marginal issues in anthropology: One of the values of blogging is the relative freedom writers have in terms of what they write. I suspect all of us deal with problems that receive little in the way of attention in traditional academic literature or in public debate. They might relate to a management problem at an important site or place; funding constraints around particular topics; a pertinent local, regional or global research question or problem; methodological difficulties; issues with academic publishing models, and so on. What are the marginal issues or stories in anthropology that you think deserve more attention?

I would prefer to focus on one specific question, so if you have any thoughts on these suggestions or other ideas entirely, please forward them on. I would like to try and pin something down by Wednesday the 23rd if possible so that I can drum up some interest for 4SH next week (and would appreciate some help in that regard as well)! Failing that, I can always revert to the old 4SH format.

There has been quite a lot of discussion about blogging and archaeology recently and so I think that this may be a topic best left alone for now.