I just read an article in WIRED magazine about how the best blog entries, the ones that go viral, the ones that people read and cite and share and come back to, are the longest ones, with the greatest amount of analysis. The days are gone, the article alleges, of blogs that simply provide links and cursory analysis.
Well, the article makes a compelling argument. Certainly, I have seen it myself. And it makes sense – why link to and share the brief blog post with a link when you can share the link itself, the longer article pointed to? … Perhaps it is because of my relative lack of analysis, and my preponderance of “quick links” posts, that my blog gets as little traffic as it does. (Actually, I continue to get a surprising amount of traffic, over 100 hits a day, despite only getting a very few comments, nearly always from the same loyal readers and friends – I love you guys.)
But, while I find this NY Times article today quite interesting, I’m afraid I really don’t have all that much to say about it. So, please, follow the link, read the article itself, and don’t worry about the fact that this post here on my blog won’t be going viral any time soon.
In an article entitled “Museums Should Dig In,” Bernard Frischer argues today that museums can and should combat the difficulties of dealing with the illegal trade in antiquities by returning to a practice they once engaged in a century ago – namely, sponsoring and organizing archaeological excavations.
I do not know the details of the arrangements, but the Metropolitan was, I believe, involved in Howard Carter’s excavation of Tutankhamun’s tomb, and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts has, in partnership with Harvard University, played a major role in excavations at Giza.
Dr. Frischer suggests that, rather than risk contributing to the problem of international illegal looting of archaeological sites and the black market in antiquities by relying upon the market to provide artifacts for acquisition by museums, the museums should get together with governments and organize arrangements by which the museum might provide funding, experts, or other aspects of a project, and would receive rights to borrow and display some portion of the artifacts uncovered.
It seems a brilliant idea. I don’t really know where any museums are going to get the money, or the staffing, to organize expeditions in today’s economy, when some are selling artworks just to keep the lights on and the doors open, but one supposes there is always the possibility of generous philanthropic gifts from anonymous donors. Legitimate excavations would yield legitimately acquired artifacts, acquired in a manner that records and maintains intact to the greatest extent possible the context in which objects were discovered, and other attributes valuable to archaeologists, information so often destroyed when an object is looted out of the ground.
A compelling argument, to be sure. But I guess we shall just have to see if anything comes of it.