The journal American Anthropologist, flagship journal of the American Anthropological Association, just published a brief essay on anthropology blogs:
Price, David H.
2010 Blogging Anthropology: Savage Minds, Zero Anthropology, and AAA Blogs. American Anthropologist 112:140-142. ((Available through Anthrosource, IF you subscribe; the AAA is quite regressive on Open Access))
My first reaction, when I heard about this on Savage Minds, was positive. Wow, a mainstream, academic peer-reviewed journal was giving attention to professional blogs. But most of the paper is a rather low-level discussion of internet discourse--things that any academic who has spent more than an hour online will know already. (blogs are current; writing can be sloppy; they can make academic work known to a wider audience; etc.; This goes in the "Wowie-zowie, leapin' lizards, Mr. Science" department).
Then there are three paragraphs on Savage Minds, which is a great blog, probably the blog I check most regularly. One paragraph is devoted to Zero Anthropology (very political and critical), and one paragraph to the American Anthropological Association's blog (yawn). In all, American Anthropologist has devoted five paragraphs to anthropology blogs. The discussion of Savage Minds is interesting and gives an idea of what is found there; for the others, it is hard to get much information from a single paragraph. But even for Savage Minds, the paper does not have space for any kind of critical analysis of its content, how it relates to intellectual production in other parts of the discipline, what its influence might be, etc. etc.
My conclusion is that American Anthropologist is not giving much respect to blogging. If this was considered a serious topic, they would have given more space for analysis, and they would have published a paper that focused on the blogs rather than devoting most of its space to a bunch of irrelevant tutoring for the internet-challenged.
I was going to post comments like this as a comment on Savage Minds this morning, but the comments on their original post (which used the AA piece to talk about "public anthropology") formed an extensive, vibrant, and exciting exchange on public anthropology (so comments like this would be off-topic). The discussion is a great example of the way an academic blog can be a true intellectual venue, a place for interesting and important exchanges of information and opinion. Just the comments on this one entry provide a better comment on the potentials of academic blogging than the whole AA paper.
I haven't seen anything remotely similar in archaeology. AWBG occasionally gets some interesting discussion going, and I've seen a few interesting discussions on other blogs here and there. I often post things on Publishing Archaeology that are deliberately provocative, hoping to generate discussion. But almost all of the interesting responses I've gotten have come in the form of emails to me, NOT comments on the blog. People want to respond, but evidently don't feel comfortable doing that in a public venue.
I don't have any grand conclusions, just a sense of disappointment that archaeology doesn't yet seem to have a vibrant and exciting intellectual venue on the internet. But anthropology sure does - check out Savage Minds, its great.