The response to my article on Blogging Archaeology has been great. It was my first tentative step in to the vast gray area of academic publishing -- not quite reviewable for tenure, but not entirely insubstantial either -- and I can report that the response to my contribution has been gratifying in large part because the results of my labor were almost instantaneously visible. While I have not queried the folks at Archaeology for their page view or hit data on my piece, I have tracked the number of readers who were interested enough to click through to my blog. This metric is perhaps, in some ways, a more interesting one as it presumably samples those readers who were sufficiently interested to at least click through to some of the content in the article. (The data gleaned from over the last fours presents a nice small-scale study in the kind of super-small, micro-history possible and perhaps even necessary in the fast moving and ephemeral space of the internet) In the four days since my article has been live at Archaeology, I have had about 350 hits on my personal blog. My average four day total is about 100 hits; so I am well above average since the article has appeared. According to my Google Analytics report 28% of my traffic comes from Archaeology.org, another 7% comes from History New Network's blog post on the article, and another 5% comes from Chuck Jones kind announcement of the article on the Ancient World Bloggers Group blog. The other hits come from either Google searches or direct links. The average number of page views is 1.84 and the average length of time on the page is a little over 2 minutes (people who link from Archaeology.org tend to only spend about 1.15 on the site). I have a bounce rate of 67% which I think is pretty good for a blog with lots of links. It would be valuable to know whether other bloggers have experienced an increase in traffic and where their hits come from. In other words, is it simply from people reading the Archaeology article or is a knock-on effect of sorts from more people being in the network of blogs. I suggest that blogs work in some ways like social networking sites: that once people enter the system through a particular blog, they can pass on within the blogging network and read other blogs through blogrolls and links. I have no real idea if this works in practice.
Coincidentally, several interesting pieces related to academic blogging have recently appeared. Over at the Center for History and the New Media, they have released their first episode of a new series of podcasts called THAT (The Humanities and Technology). The first episode was an interview with Matt Mullenweg the founder of WordPress. The interview is a bit raw, but interesting nonetheless. One thing that is particularly telling is that Mullenweg had no idea of how academics might use his technology or how academic users might benefit such open source blogging software like Wordpress.
The other interesting post that appeared just recently was over at Henry Jenkins' Confessions of an Aca-fan in which he announced his return to blogging after a month long hiatus. Jenkins is one of the most prolific academic bloggers around, and his populist style shows a real sense of audience for his own work. In his recent post, he sets out some of the pressures of blogging and gives some good advice for someone starting out. None of it is beyond what a good academic might guess: set a writing goal, anticipate an audience, et c. Jenkins also commented on some of the benefits of academic blogging. In particular he described the effect of his well-known blog on his academic program at MIT. He noted that it not only attracted graduate students to the program, but helped students maintain an attachment to the program after they left. These are both goals that would seemingly warm the administrator's heart -- especially the latter as folks who keep an attachment to a program are more likely to give to it later. One would think that the popularizing aspects of some academic blogging might make it attractive to administrators, and their interest in promoting it would gradually trickle down to departments (as so much in academia these days) as they make decisions on tenure and promotion. If you like Jenkins' style, be sure to follow the link to one of his earlier posts which set out a manifesto (of sorts) for his kind of academic blogging.