The Aard Regulars Gallery

We’ve all been talking here on the blog for so many years now, but I don’t know what most of you look like. The other day I emailed the most active commenters of the past two months and asked them for photographs to post in a portrait gallery. So far seven regulars have sent me pics, and Sean has offered to find a pic for me soonish.

Now please keep the pix coming! This gallery will remain a work in progress for some time. I’d be very happy to receive pictures of long-term lurkers as well. You don’t have to have a beard, but if you do, nobody is likely to make fun of you for it.

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De-Lurk

It’s time we had a de-lurk around this here blog! The last one was nearly four years ago. If you keep returning to this blog but rarely or never comment, you are a lurker, Dear Reader, and a most welcome one too.

Please comment on this entry and tell us something about yourself – like where you are, what your biggest passion is, what you’d like to see more of on the blog. And if you are a long-time lurker who has de-lurked before, re-de-lurks are much encouraged!

Twelve Years Of Blogging

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Today is my twelfth birthday as a blogger. 12 / 45.5 ~ 0.26 – I’ve been doing this for more than a quarter of my life! I love writing and being able to publish my stuff without any wait or editorial meddling.

Following the demise of ScienceBlogs.com, I’m now on my third URL in twelve years here. The move to WordPress caused only a 26% drop in my traffic from October to November. Sadly I lost most of the images in older entries.

Blogging is one thing I’m not changing about my lifestyle. But professionally, I’m in transition: from a solitary scholar’s life where for 23 years I’ve subsisted mainly on small grants and (more recently) short adjunct lecturer gigs, to something else. As long-term readers will know, there are several reasons for this.

  • I want co-workers and a steady salary.
  • I’ll be 46 next year, and ¾ of all advertised lectureships in Scandy archaeology are given to people who are below 47.
  • I’ve lost all faith in academic meritocracy and no longer believe in the reward I was deferring.
  • My finances have gotten really badly messed up by a combination of a) almost no adjunct work since 2015, b) expensive home renovations and c) the cost of conserving the small iron finds that are so common on the Medieval castle sites I’ve been excavating in recent years.

So, Dear Reader, I hope you’ll stick around the blog! Expect the usual three monthly entries with Pieces Of My Mind, and also some chronicling of my ups and downs on the archaeological job market beyond the garden wall of Academe’s grove. Because though laurels do grow there, a man can’t live on bay leaves only.

Please Suggest Blog Skins/Themes

WordPress offers me 118 free skins (“themes”) and almost 200 ones with a price tag to choose between for the blog. The differences between them are both functional and cosmetic. You’re currently reading Aard with the Syntax skin.

Dear Reader, please post links to something.wordpress.com blogs with skins that you like and tell me what’s good about them! Or just tell me that Syntax is fine with you.

Migration Completed Successfully!

It is my intense pleasure to be able to tell you, Dear Reader, that Aard’s migration from Scienceblogs.com to WordPress.com went swiftly, got all the text and copied all the images. Some have been rotated, but they’re all here as far as I can tell — all the way from the first entry back in December of 2006! I didn’t have to do any arcane tweaks and no external plugins or scripts were involved. Phew!

One thing that has not been converted is links between Aard’s entries. I’ve done this by hand for the most recent entries.

Sb Has 15 Active Blogs

A year ago I took a look at the surrounding landscape here at Sb, investigating which of the blogs were active – defined as which ones had seen an entry during the month up to 19 Jan ’16. Now I’ve looked at the month up to 24 Jan ’17. The result isn’t great. Four blogs have gone quiet and three have re-awoken, bringing the total down to 15.

A particularly significant loss from the roster is Josh Rosenhouse’s EvolutionBlog. This was one of the original Sb blogs in May of 2006, and Josh’s farewell entry is dated 18 October 2016.

Not one new blog has been added to the roster in the past two years. You may wonder what the Sb Overlords are thinking about this. I sure do.

Here are the currently active ScienceBlogs (apart from the one you’re reading). Check them out and drop them a few comments!

Eleven Years Of Blogging

eleven-clipart-number11-250pxToday is Aard’s tenth anniversary! And 16 December was my eleventh anniversary as a blogger, since I blogged at Blogspot for over a year before I came to Scienceblogs.

2016 has been a good year for the blog’s traffic: about 540 daily readers which is better than 2014 and 2015, very encouraging! It hasn’t been a great year for me professionally though, with a number of really bad disappointments in academia, mostly related to nepotism, and quite a lot of financial worries. The latter luckily turned out to be unfounded. And I’m pleased with having directed my biggest excavation yet and published my first pop-sci book. Also it’s been a really good year for me as a dad.

Of course, many people will remember 2016 for big triumphs of right-wing populism in the UK and US, and for a sad string of celebrity deaths. I say let’s remember that Austria elected a Green president over a Brown one, and Keith Richards is not only still alive but still touring!

As for my blogging plans for 2017, I don’t foresee any particular changes, largely because I have nothing particular planned for other aspects of my life. As far as I know today I’ll spend 2017 finishing a book on the Medieval castles of Östergötland at 75% while editing Fornvännen at 25%. You’ll find me here, Dear Reader.

Sb Has 16 Active Blogs

A year ago I took a look at the surrounding landscape here at Sb, investigating which of the blogs were active – defined as which ones had seen an entry during the month up to 24 Jan ’15. Now I’ve looked at the month up to 17 Jan ’16. The result isn’t great. Four blogs have gone quiet and one has re-awoken, bringing the total down to 16. Not one new blog has been added to the roster in the past year. You may wonder what the Sb Overlords are thinking about this. I sure do.

Here are the currently active ScienceBlogs (apart from the one you’re reading). Check them out and drop them a few comments!

Ten Years Of Blogging

I’ve been blogging for a bit more than ten years now, having started on 16 December, and today Aard turns nine! I was inspired to begin blogging by my wife who started in October 2005. She worked as a news reporter at the time, and journalists were early adopters in Swedish blogging. I was doing research on small grants and applying for uni jobs.

In late 2005 we were living happily in a three-room apartment in a former council tenement, my son had just started school and my daughter was a baby. Things have changed a bit over these ten years as we’ve moved into middle age: both kids are now taller than my wife, she’s a psychology student and I’m a part-time adjunct university lecturer. We’re in a small house of our own, though very near our old place.

Throughout all these years, blogging has been hugely important to me as a platform to have a voice in my field despite my difficulties in securing post-doctoral academic affiliation. It’s given me complete autonomy of immediate expression in a field where most people are still limited by the goodwill of journal editors and long waits for publication. Blogging has made me a minor celeb in Scandy archaeology. I’ve even seen a blog comment of mine quoted as part of the motto for a major Norwegian conference! Blogging also offered important relief for the loneliness of my solo research years, when nobody except my wife cared whether I got out of bed in the mornings or not. (The funding bodies only checked on me like once every two years.)

Another aspect of why I like blogging so much is how much fun it is to write about whatever I’m thinking about on any given day. And it’s been quite an education to me. I believe an interested reader will be able to tell that something happened to my academic writing as well around 2005-06. I’ve never been impressed by complicated academic jargon. But I feel like blogging really allowed me to develop an English style of my own, aiming for brevity, clarity and accessibility, and preferably a note of humour. A semi-hostile trio of job application reviewers actually commented on this recently: ”His work is characterized by an unusual personal writing style, which seems to mirror a conscious opposition towards traditional dogmas in academia.” This makes me proud. Conscious opposition towards traditional dogmas, indeed!

Taking stock, I find that this is my 2543rd blog entry. That averages to about five blog entries a week for a decade. In recent years of course I’ve been posting less frequently, but longer entries on average as shorter observations now go into my Facebook feed instead. Starting three years ago the best of these end up packaged as Pieces Of My Mind entries on the blog.

Traffic has been fairly steady for over two years, after coming down from the dizzy heights of 2007-2011. For Oct, Nov, Dec 2015, I’ve had about 480 daily readers. Most of them sadly never comment. The uncontested rulers of the comments section are Phillip Helbig, Thomas Ivarsson, Birger Johansson, Eric Lund and John Massey, who can be counted upon to keep up a lively, smart and funny conversation full of interesting links even if I don’t post for a week. Birger and John have actually commented more than I have on this blog!

Thematically, I’ve always described Aard as a blog about archaeology, history, skepticism, books and music. This is borne out by the numbers for the categories I tag each entry with, though humour, tech and Sweden are also big.

So, Dear Reader, I ain’t quittin’. Is there anything in particular that you’d like me to write about? I’d be particularly pleased to hear from steady lurkers such as Ulla Å.!