#13: Best Posts of the Last Year

This post is in response to Doug Rocks-Macqueen’s Blogging Archaeology Carnival, in preparation for the Blogging Archaeology session at the 2014 SAA meeting in Austin, Texas. Read through some of the fantastic responses to past questions here.

For January, Doug asked us to write about what we think our best posts are, however we want to define “best.”

“The idea for this month is simple- reflect on what you consider you best post(s) and why that is. Also, think about what others might think is your best post however you want to measure that (views? comments? etc.).  Then share your thoughts.”

Off the top of my head, I can think of a few ways that I’d define best: posts which are popular or useful, although that may be conflating two categories. I assume if people are resharing a post, then they found it at least useful enough to read it. The post with the most “likes” ­– now that our culture has decided that the “best” way to show approval is with a simple thumbs up or thumbs down, social media is one way to determine what people find interesting. Finally, there’s my subjective “best,” or the posts I personally like the best or got the most out of writing. Let’s start off the rundown.

First Popular/Useful Post:

#6 Archaeology Digital Data Tools

The first post I wrote that really gave me an indication that people read and responded to my blog was a quick post I wrote because I was coming up against my self-imposed deadline of a post a month. Pressed for time, I collected together a bunch of applications I had researched that were either designed for, or I thought were of use to archaeologists. This included software like the FAIMS project and ArcheoLINK, two programs for which I later more in-depth reviews. It was exciting to see people start to respond to the post, and I especially got a little charge as my little social media buttons slowly incremented their counters. The counters topped out around 12, which is admittedly not that high, but it was the first indication that someone besides myself and those friends to whom I sent the link were actually reading my blog and cared enough to reshare it. The post has become a central point for my blog, as now I add new programs to it as I come across them and then insert links to my review posts once I get the chance to install and test each program.

Most “Likes”:

#10 Advice for New CRM Archaeologists: Keeping Busy During Downtime

Looking at the counters on my website, the most popular link in terms of reshares has been the post I wrote on “Keeping During Downtime.” I wrote the post in response to an episode of the CRM Archaeology Podcast on the 2013 Government Shutdown that I couldn’t attend. Listening to the great responses from the other panelists in the finished episode made me so fired up that I had to go home and write down my own thoughts. Usually, I end up thinking that my responses on the podcast sound rushed and rambling, so I really appreciated being able to take the time to carefully think though and organize my thoughts through writing the post. As it stands, I’m also pretty proud of what I wrote and, although it just represents my own experiences and what I’ve found useful, I hope that the post helps at least one new archaeologist figure out how to make ends meet or keep from getting cabin fever during what can be long and lonely winter months their first year or two or when shovelbumming doesn’t always provide a winter job.

My Personal Favorite:

#5 Digitizing Fieldnotes through Crowdsourcing and Games

My personal favorite post so far has been the article I wrote on using crowdsourcing and games to digitize documents. I wrote the post after attending a ContentDM conference here in Seattle last year. I met a librarian who had access to lots of primary documents from John Muir and other notable figures, but who having trouble figuring out how to get funds to cover the cost and time it would take to digitize them all. I gave him my business card and told him to contact me so that I could send him links to a couple unique digitization projects I had read about, namely the UrCrowdsource and DigiTalkoot projects. The UrCrowdsource project harnesses the power of people volunteering their time online to transcribe original fieldnotes from the archaeologists who first excavated the Mesopotamian city of Ur back in the 1920s and 30s. The second project was using custom made video games to recruit members of the public to double check and correct text from library collections that had been run through optical character recognition (OCR) systems. Essentially, imagine if playing Angry Birds resulted in better transcriptions of historic documents rather than just giving players an understanding of cartoon physics and providing a little stress and boredom relief while waiting for a bus or in a doctor’s waiting room. My favorite parts about this post are that it a) required me to do some research into some of the innovative things people are doing out in the world to combine technology and the past and b) hopefully it opened up someone’s mind to the possibility of using similar technologies to start their own innovative transcription project. My goal with this blog is to highlight some of the ways that archaeologists and other scientists are using technology in our work, and this post is a good example of the kind of post I intend to write more often.

What have been your favorite posts? Have any helped you find a new tool or a new method for using archaeological data? Post your thoughts in the comments below!

Until next time,

 Cheers!

-Russell

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