2 years of life of OAC, around 5000 members and still ...nothing is going on as before ...Any ideas ? 

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Well, I think that after two years, we can start by throwing out the same old vague complaints. "Nothing" is going on here? Really? There's something new every time I visit. The site is already an incredible resource and a living entity we can all help to shape. An open, social site with a majority of academic members that has sustained itself for two years without institutional support is pretty rare. Members have put a lot of effort into blogs, groups, forums, media, and the press. Some people come with questions, others return for seminar debates or to share opinions. 5,000 people have taken an interest and many more have shared links around the web. 

Substantial ideas are always welcome, but insisting on "nothing" isn't helpful! Give us something more to work with so  people can get on board and make new things happen.

Francine is right. If things seem a bit slow at present, there are two obvious reasons to consider. The first is end of term and start of summer, a period when all academically related fora tend to go dead. The second is that the usual suspects have exhausted our usual arguments. But the cure for that is what it has always been. Wirte something worth talking about.
As with most networks, the majority of members are onlookers. This is what I have been ever since I joined, which is probably close to a year ago. This is my first ever post /comment/peep of any kind. If you look at my activity you would easily assume that I'm someone who eagerly signed up and then walked away, as I'm sure is the case with a sizeable chunk of members. But I'm probably not the only one who has been checking in daily and "spying" on discussions, seminars, threads, individual profiles. OAC has assumed a role of a shadow Facebook in my life; in fact, I've notice that I consume them together. When brain gets hungry for long form, complexity, deeper curiosity, the mouse switches tabs. It took me a good two years on FB to become comfortable sharing, commenting, knowing how to behave. As good as it feels to receive feedback on one's posts and links, pictures, funny comments, tongue-in-cheek provocations, it can also feel twice as lonely to put out something dear/sacred/important and to get nothing. It’s a learning process, to know how to engage and be engaged, how to open up, how to protect one’s self; digital being comes to some easier than to others. Some people are really good on the phone, some always a bit awkward. But I think it is safe to say that today world-over a great number of people are at this point, well into phone’s second century, fairly comfortable arguing on it, interviewing for jobs, connecting with family, fighting a bank on some unnecessary fee, flirting, wasting time, getting things done.

It’s important that OAC grows, however slowly, however long the silences and slow content creation. Sometimes new content is so slow to come by, one ends up finally reading threads and posts that originally sparked no interest. Many pleasant surprises. Seeing the admin folks greet every new member boosts confidence: it’s still alive, it will survive. As tipping points go, there is a bit of magic to it all that can’t quite ever be pinned down, managed, strategized over. What cannot be denied is that this little corner of the web is unique, that there is a great deal of thirst for it, much more than the actual participation shows. It’s all there just under the surface. As OAC learns to be more welcoming towards non-academics, they will also grow comfortable owning a piece of it.

So, here it is, a small step for OAC, but a giant leap for this non-academic: my first post. Here is to more of me and more of OAC. Happy birthday!!!
A happy birthday to all our readers. We still get a steady 500 unique visitors a day. I would be interested, Boris, in how we could make the OAC more friendly to non-academics. I have been in this business on and off for almost two decades, since I founded the amateur anthroopological association (the small triple a, not the AAA), motto amateurs do it for love and they can include pros and students. It is very easy to deter active participation by seeming to be a closed group of insiders; and I do think that the academic style can drive out a wider membership, even as the obvious appeal of this site is to people who have already made some sort of commitment to anthropology at the universities.

I sometimes wish that the pool of those who are actively involved would increase. But, as Boris says, these are still early days and I believe that the spontaneous accretion of new deposits is the main way the OAC will grow. I am amazed by how truly global our membership is, but I note that the amount of posts in languages other than English has declined in this last year, as has the level of activity of the Groups in general.

I feel that the online seminars have been successful and they feed the publications of the OAC Press. We could do with more volunteers for both. I would like to see more publications in other languages or in translation, but that greatly adds to the editorial burden.

Fran has done a great deal in this last year to improve the look and working of the site. We are getting a good range of blog posts and some great visual material. It remains to be seen if the new forum discussions take off.

We have created an open access site with few barriers to entry and the range of anthropologies on offer is impressively wide. We have some way to go before we can fulfil the collaborative promise of the third term in our title, yet I believe that learning to do things with each other remains the most exciting way the OAC might change how anthropology is done in the 21st century.

We like to have an open discussion twice a year of what might be done to improve the OAC, so let's use this opportunity for another one.
Happy b-day OAC and thanks, Keith.  I have been on a hiatus for another reason.  I'm training to become a garde manger sous chef for a five star hotel in Cali.  Even at work,  there's anthropology I can't avoid.  The French are anal, the Italians are loud, the Japanese are fastidious, the Americans are showy, the Chinese are hardworking, and the Indians are still argumentative.  Hehehehe.  Well, the Mexicans are exploited.

Happy birthday to all members! It looks like we'll soon have 5,000 members here. Great!

Though this is not our first birthday, I remembered one traditional custom practiced at the very first birthday party while searching for a good picture to attach here. Koreans set a table with several things on it, and let the baby pick up one of them and predict how the baby will grow up by seeing which one the baby picks up first - a yarn for longevity, a brush for scholaristic works, a bow for braveness (for boys), a thimble for dexterity (for girls), money for wealth and things like that. I was later told that I had picked up the pencil (a substitute for brush). No wonder that I chose to become a scholar. Haha. Wonder how and if other cultures do a comparable celebration event.

I hope all of them for OAC members and attach a picture of the table here. :D

Happy Birthday OAC!  I was there when Keith slapped its bum and we heard the newborn OAC's first cry.  It's still going after 2 years, and with almost 5000 members.  I'm not sure what I expected, but this is good by any measure.

 

My personal wishes for the OAC's future:

 

1. I would be very excited to see the site used to launch and coordinate a collaborative research effort.

2. The work of the OAC Press more prominently and permanently featured on the OAC home page

3. Links to "partner" efforts on the main page.  E.g. The Anthropologies Project.

4. An archaeologist now and then?

Paul, I agree with all four of your birthday wishes. I'm always trying to think of ways to add new content to the main page and your 2nd item just gave me another idea.

I'd also like to encourage those with ideas for partner efforts to post them in the Projects forum, even in their early stages. I often get emails in private with great ideas mentioned in passing, but they don't need to be filtered through site admins. Just throw it out there and see if it sticks ...

Anyone else have wishes to add to the list or - even better! - ways to make them happen?


Paul Wren said:

Happy Birthday OAC!  I was there when Keith slapped its bum and we heard the newborn OAC's first cry.  It's still going after 2 years, and with almost 5000 members.  I'm not sure what I expected, but this is good by any measure.

 

My personal wishes for the OAC's future:

 

1. I would be very excited to see the site used to launch and coordinate a collaborative research effort.

2. The work of the OAC Press more prominently and permanently featured on the OAC home page

3. Links to "partner" efforts on the main page.  E.g. The Anthropologies Project.

4. An archaeologist now and then?

Paul, I think this is a very interesting idea. I remember in the past we've discussed organizing efforts toward Wikipedia and Citizendium. Are you holding anything specific in mind? I'd be very curious to hear yours and others thoughts on this. Thanks!


Paul Wren said:

1. I would be very excited to see the site used to launch and coordinate a collaborative research effort.

 

Happy Birthday OAC, absolutely!

 

This site is vital, and seemed to me a godsend, the first time I came across it - though I've been off it for too long. No longer!

Like Heesun, I too must have picked up the pencil. It's great to be able to communicate a passion for anthropology in a place like this.

 

For what it's worth, Paul's suggestions strike me as very sound.  

 

 

By a "collaborative research effort," I am referring to a group of people here on the OAC forming a team, identifying an interesting research question to pursue, and then using the OAC as the electronic platform to coordinate efforts, post interim data, discuss issues, co-write drafts, etc.

 

I haven't thought it through completely-- identifying a methodology for using OAC to coordinate a geographically separated research group would be an interesting challenge in itself.

 

I don't know if the research group would want to create two Ning groups: A private one for work within the team, and a public one, where members of the OAC could see the research in progress and even comment.

 

Here's one example:

In archaeology, there are are a lot of data available from excavations.  A lot of interesting questions can be posed that would allow for original research that would be built upon these existing data.   I could imagine working with other archaeologists to attack such a problem, and none one of us would need to go into the field to collect data, nor would we ever need to meet in person.  The OAC could be our conference and work room.

 

Just thinkin' out loud...

 

Paul

Also just thinking out loud -

People are busy fighting copyright laws to make books freely available online but there are already a few out there with relevance to anthropology. I was wondering if we could tap into this somehow. For a start we could have a list but there might be more we can do.

It doesn't seem possible to search something like "Capital" using the search on google books and get, for example, an accurate list of all the mentions of "solidarity" but I was thinking along these lines... all the times that Locke writes about _. Some sort of index.

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