The hierarchical structure of academic Mayanist research is ineffective when it deals with thoughts emerging within the 2012 phenomenon. Most Mayanist academics that attempt to confront this phenomenon do it through traditional media, such as peer-reviewed journals and books and conferences. They therefore inhabit another media environment than the ones they wish to confront although the 2012ers also publish books, their ideas primarily spread on blogs, forums and other websites.
What is the main contrast between the traditional media ecology that most academic Mayanists inhabit and that of the blogosphere? It is probably the sorting process that selects who gets an opportunity to express oneself. According to Levi Bryant internet and blogs work differently than traditional media. Traditional academic texts are found in academic journals, presses, and conferences such as the SAA’s and Nordic TAG and seldom are they read outside the academic sphere. Editors of journals, presses, and the organizers of conferences have a substantial amount of power in defining topics, discourse, legitimate thought, and content, etc. In this media environment one accesses other research through the journal and press. This hierarchical media environment therefore defines who gets to participate.
Blogging challenges this traditional academic mode of knowledge-distribution and reproduction. Topics, trends, and legitimate discourse no longer reside only with editors and organizers of conferences. Other topics and styles of thought emerge outside of these traditional mediums, even among academic bloggers, such as myself.
Journals are able to maintain strict disciplinary boundaries targeting specialists in a particular field. Academic blogging break up academic disciplinary boundaries, similar to what occurs within the 2012 phenomenon. My blog posts about 2012 have been commented by a musician, an ethnographer, a philosopher, a political activist, and some fellow archaeologists as well. Blogging therefore undermines academic hierarchy which I see as a positive effect (in most cases).
I often receive a differentiated set of opinions and therefore also a highly differentiated quality of comments compared to that of peer-reviews. Comments from 2012ers are often written to reject me, but that has also happened in at least one peer-review. At least I have an opportunity to respond to the critique on the blog.
I primarily see my blog as an important tool to post my thoughts much quicker and to a much broader audience than a fairly limited academic circle. As a medium I use my blog as:
1. An on-line notebook and research site where I can share and organize notes and ideas from my own reading or fieldwork and hopefully get some feedback to refine my ideas.
2. A didactic site where readers can learn something about archaeology, the Maya, etc.
3. Learning how to write better (in Swenglish though). Most of my readers are located in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia.
4. An open-ended project where some of the purposes emerge in the process of blogging other topics.
It is this last point that is in focus in this series of blog posts since my dealings with the 2012 phenomenon was an unintended outcome of my blogging activity. Most traffic to my blog comes from people searching for something related to this phenomenon. I am therefore also feeding on the phenomenon that I criticize and dislike but is my own research affected by my blogging about the 2012 phenomenon? It has perhaps made me a bit schizophrenic. In my posts on my own archaeological research I am often critical of Mayanist research whereas when I deal with 2012ers I have become somewhat conservative and a defender of ideas that I usually criticize. In a way I am unintentionally trying to maintain the academic hierarchy.