The Blog Factor in Academia (by M. Revello Lami)
Hosting a blog on a scientific journal can be a source of controversy among academics. It may sound like a frivolous distraction from the real work, revealing a too favorable attitude toward social media. However, as academics we are constantly asked to make our research more relevant to a wider audience, or in other words, to have an impact on contemporary society. Not surprisingly, the impact factor of a research is crucial when assessing the overall value of a project. And yet, much of the academic discourse is still relegated to small conversations among ourselves, professional seminars and conferences, book reviews and specialist hard copy press, inevitably ruling out the possibility of a broader social dialog. As rightly argued by Tim Hitchcock, professor of Digital History at the University of Sussex, “If there is a ‘crisis’ in the humanities, it lies in how we have our public debates, rather than in their content […] we need to remember that the role of the academic humanist has always been a public one – however mediated through teaching and publication. By building blogging, Twitter, Flickr, and shared libraries in Zotero, into our research programmes – into the way we work anyway – we both get more research done and build a community of engaged readers for the work itself.”
Academically a blogpost may well not be cited on its own right but certainly boosts citations for our work. A post reaches other researchers in our specific discipline, and because it is accessibly written, it travels well, gets re-tweeted and re-liked, reaching thus also academics outside our immediate sub-field and discipline, potentially attracting new and more varied audiences to our research.
Encouraging the dialogue between different disciplines, promoting a more socially and politically engaged archaeology and including a wider the audience into the archaeological debate, feature prominently among the objective pursued by Ex Novo. The decision of hosting a blog on our website goes exactly in this direction. In order to have impact, archaeology needs indeed to be public and being challenged beyond the academy.
To launch the ExN Blog we are glad to host the reflections of Lennart Kruijer (Leiden University) about the complex relationship between post-colonial instances within classical archaeology and the sometimes still-colonial practices embedded in this discipline, especially when it comes to fieldwork.
Twitter and blogs, and embarrassingly enthusiastic drunken conversations at parties, are not add-ons to academic research, but a simple reflection of the passion that underpins it.