Changing the Way Archaeologists Work: blogging and the development of expertise

Sara Perry

Department of Archaeology, University of York. UK. sara.perry@york.ac.uk http://orcid.org/0000-0002-9694-000X

Cite this as: Perry, S. (2015). Changing the Way Archaeologists Work: blogging and the development of expertise, Internet Archaeology 39. https://doi.org/10.11141/ia.39.9

Summary

While blogging in archaeology has a genealogy that can be traced back nearly two decades, the relationship between such practice and the constitution of disciplinary expertise has barely been probed. Arguably directly relatable to early web-based efforts to reconfigure the archaeological interpretative process and redefine professional identity (e.g. as evidenced in Cornelius Holtorf's 1998 hypermediated PhD dissertation), blog work has long been drawn into the exercise of crafting skilled bodies and accredited knowledge bases. In the last 10 years, however, it has increasingly been applied to the academic classroom, where it is used as a formal teaching tool at all levels of university education. The implications of this pedagogical phenomenon are profound, yet the epistemological consequences for the professionalisation of archaeology are hardly understood.

Here I combine a critical analysis of students' experiments with blogging in my own undergraduate archaeology courses with an overview of comparable classroom-based and professional weblog work elsewhere. I draw upon evidence collected through survey, interviews, course assessments and reflective reports to make a case not only for blogging as a meaningful creative exercise, but as a mechanism by which the very nature of archaeology itself can be prodded, extended and perhaps even fundamentally reconfigured. Although often fraught with tension, blog work is an influential intellectual tool for the discipline. I outline here how it promises both to narrow the gap between archaeological theory and practice, and simultaneously to hone and empower emerging professionals.

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