Archaeology, Academics and Social Media
Last week, I woke up to find that AIRC’s twitter account @AIRomanculture has surpassed 500 followers. In an era where celebutantes, actors, sports heroes and gun-toting-fathers rack in thousands a day, 500 followers (in a few months) is merely a blink of the eye. It’s not really even a number. But for us, its a big deal. Why? Aren’t archaeologists, classicists, latinists and any book-toting academics stereotypically nose-deep in text all the time?
Maybe. Maybe not.
Take a glimpse at my archaeo-academic desktop on any morning.
My mornings mean connecting and researching in a world that used to be a bit hard enter into, if you aren’t on campus or at a conference. Reaching 500 followers means we are doing our our job to promote cultural heritage– in other words, getting the word out there, keeping up a continuous dialog and searching out/collaborating with/introducing new people. My world of colleagues and better yet friends has exploded out of Rome and into your computer. I may not know what you look like, but I know what you like and I like what you’re talking about.
Social Media is an incredible and relentless asset for the AIRC. We’ve connected with former students, professors and professionals to find out what they are doing and where they are going, we help in keeping issues current (protecting Greece’s cultural heritage) and we’ve connected with people interested in many of our interests from our academic projects in archaeology, communications and Latin (just take a look at “Latin Tweet Ups”, Pipiatio Latina: aka a lot of people “speaking” Latin on twitter)– to our personal interests such as sustainability in Rome, how Ancient Rome appears in pop culture, gastrotourism, sci-fi literature and art crimes.
So yes, we’ve jumped head first into a kind of contemporary archaeology where history is happening instantaneously. To be honest, I can’t keep up with everything we are “supposed” to be doing or not doing. @Airomanculture has committed the twitter faux pas of following more than our number of followers, but I am pretty sure that we are truly reading everyone we are following– and that their tweets are great. And yes, we do enjoy retweeting information because there are a lot of great people out there on Twitter and Facebook (and I guess Pinterest now) who are sharing great information? Does that make us less personable? I don’t know and I hope not. What I do know is that all of this is good for us, for any academic who may be shy (like me) or not have the time, money, resources, connections, patience to stumble across something new, useful and otherwise mind-blowing. And here’s an update: thanks to Twitter, signatures to stop the proposed landfill next to Villa Adriana,aka Protect Hadrian’s Villa petition, will hopefully surpass 2000 as of March 12, 2012. Sign if you haven’t!
What do you think?