Yesterday I posted my 400th post. Now, some of those posts were not the most substantial things, but I pride myself on some degree of regularity (bordering on obsessive consistency), so maintaining this blog for now over 400 posts does give me a degree of satisfaction.
I began just this morning to reflect a bit on what I am doing with this blog. In particular, I was thinking about its origins. It began as an effort to document the goings on the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project. The goal was primarily to extend what I do to a broader audience and maybe even to impart a modest sense of community among those individuals who shared a common interested in our project on Cyprus, Mediterranean archaeology, and North Dakotiana. It's hard to evaluate how successful I have been at achieving those goals, but I have met many interesting colleagues through my blog and am occasionally (and pleasantly) surprised when I meet a well-respected colleague in my field who knows a something about my work and my interests through my writing here. (I am also pleased that, with one or two rather minor exceptions, I have stayed out of trouble!).
As the blog has developed, however, my interests and goals have changed. Beginning with a well-received article on Blogging Archaeology, I began to think more explicitly about the intersection of archaeology and the "new media". Over the the life of this blog, I have continued my tinkering with digital video (in collaboration with Joe Patrow), digital audio (via podcasts), and group authored explorations of the archaeological experience (though our "sister" blogs). This work has made me more aware of the way in which the accessibility of the new media has started to open the doors to new ways of thinking about not only the past but also those processes that allow us to document and explore the past.
Next month I am going to give a talk on the first 6 years of fieldwork at Pyla-Koutsopetria. I've divided the talk into three sections. The first one sets out the the basic historical questions that our work has sought to answer with a particular emphasis on those relating to Late Antiquity. It's a public talk so some of this will need to be simplified, but I start with a critique of the idea that Late Antiquity was a time of decline and settlement contraction, and then go on to place Cyprus in the context of a prosperous Late Roman world. The second part of the talk discusses archaeological method and methodology. I set out our tiered approach to the sit and explain how we used intensive survey, geophysical prospecting, and targeted excavation to address specific research questions.
The final section will draw at least part of its inspiration from this blog. I will bring in our efforts to encourage reflexive thought about the archaeological process and to document this reflexive critique in real time. Our earliest efforts at documenting the reflexive habits have been top down in the spirit of traditional media. Project directors, team leaders, senior staff wrote blogs, a video documentary organized and funded by the project directors documented many of the day to day activities of the project, and I orchestrated a series of podcast interviews. These top down approaches presented only a fairly rarified perspective on archaeological decision making and hardly captured the spirit of the new media which has emphasized the democratic nature of the discourse (think: wikis, youtube, et c.), the ability to produce mash-ups that juxtapose different perspectives and visions, and the ultimately the instability of any authoritative discourse. So, the paper will conclude with a look toward the future where it will be easier to produce kaleidoscopic and multipolar views of the archaeological experience.
Low cost digital video cameras can produce better images than expensive "pro-sumer" models available just 5 years ago. Server space for blogs, photographs, and video and audio is now inexpensive and widely available for the storage and distribution of new media content. The 1+ years and 400 posts on the blog have begun to outline my interest in the opportunities and challenges provided by new media approaches to archaeology. Hopefully the next 400 posts will begin to embrace more fully the potential of new approaches to old stuff.