Posted by: Johan Normark | April 28, 2011

Dealing with the public view of the Maya: pt. 1

Yesterday at the Nordic TAG in Kalmar I presented a slightly extended and modified version of the paper that I also presented  at the SAA in Sacramento less than a month ago. Here is the first part (and even this version is modified in order to suit the blog form):

After the symposium about “Blogging Archaeology” in Sacramento Michael Smith at Publishing Archaeology categorized archaeological blogs into six categories:

1. Blogs for rapid communication to involve the public in fieldwork.

2. Blogs for less rapid communication of the results of fieldwork and scholarship to the public.

3. Blogs for communication of broader ideas and themes to the public and/or media

4. Blogs for communication and discussion of professional topics with a professional audience.

5. Traditional author-centered blogs.

6. Blogs for teaching and student training.

Michael categorized my blog as number 3. That is only partially true. The blog primarily deals with Mayanist research and a branch of archaeological theory that is influenced by the neorealistic turn in the social and humanist sciences. A secondary topic is the so-called 2012 phenomenon, which is a mixture of new age, conspiracy theories, pseudoscience and wild speculations that distorts the academic view of the Maya.

Hence, my blog fits under several of Michael’s categorizations. It was originally intended to be solely a blog for communication and discussion of professional topics with a professional audience. Two years later my blog does cover categories 2 to 5. I began to blog as part of an attempt to fill a gap that I still think exist in the archaeological blogosphere, and that gap concerns theoretical discussions. I soon came to primarily use the blog to communicate my ideas regarding neorealistic ideas rather than theory in general.

All media environments affect the way we think, feel, and behave. They structure what we can see, say, and do. We are expected to follow the roles the media environment set for us. The medium, the blog itself, is not just a vehicle for content, it also influences content. This is obvious when we look at how leading Mayanists have confronted the 2012 phenomenon.

2012ers as a collective usually circumnavigates academia while at the same time they attempt to legitimize themselves by referring to the academic research if it suits their agenda. The 2012 phenomenon feed upon connections between heterogeneous components such as aliens, numerology, the apocalypse, the transformation of consciousness, etc. pretty much like internet connects heterogeneous components of people. The 2012 phenomenon has therefore capitalized on the heterarchical/rhizomatic structure of internet.

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