I was very saddened to learn about this policy, and it pains me to have to hide my posts, because I see this blog as an ideal way to engage the public and all other stakeholders in my research. I strongly believe that engaging all stakeholders is an important component of doing archaeology in an ethical manner. I strongly dislike the tendencies within archaeology and other academic disciplines to hoard data and to distribute archaeological findings only within academia. Indeed, the Society for American Archaeology Principles of Archaeological Ethics includes the following:
Principle No. 4: Public Education and Outreach
Archaeologists should reach out to, and participate in cooperative efforts with others interested in the archaeological record with the aim of improving the preservation, protection, and interpretation of the record. In particular, archaeologists should undertake to: 1) enlist public support for the stewardship of the archaeological record; 2) explain and promote the use of archaeological methods and techniques in understanding human behavior and culture; and 3) communicate archaeological interpretations of the past. Many publics exist for archaeology including students and teachers; Native Americans and other ethnic, religious, and cultural groups who find in the archaeological record important aspects of their cultural heritage; lawmakers and government officials; reporters, journalists, and others involved in the media; and the general public. Archaeologists who are unable to undertake public education and outreach directly should encourage and support the efforts of others in these activities.Of course, blogs are not the only way I engage with the public. I interact with the local public through site tours and talks, for example. Blogs, however, make it easier to interact with the public on a national and international level.
And of course, INAH does not forbid the use of blogs altogether. Once the reports are in, I may distribute as much data as I would like on the blog. But I enjoyed the ability to share with you readers our latest and greatest or mysterious finds. I think that including on-going finds is one way to more effectively engage the public. There is something about the immediacy of it that is important, that is lost in annual or final reports or even articles.
I do think that archaeology as a discipline is moving in the right direction. Every year more and more researchers include blogs and other forms of public outreach in their projects, and scholars are coming up with new ways to engage stakeholders using the wonderful tool of the internet. I think it is only a matter of time before such efforts are more widely appreciated. In the meantime, I will do what I can.