Matt Thompson over at Savage Minds has been working hard to initiate a renewed Open Access effort in anthropology. His initial idea is to create a "Digital Anthropology" interest group in the AAA to start conversations and discussions within that particular organization. The main goals at this point are to open up a conversation about publishing, communication, and fostering connections between anthropologists. Check out his latest post here:
In the comments section, many people have expressed an interest in this project, but want to see something that extends beyond the limits of the AAA and US anthropology in general. I agree. The AAA interest group can, of course, be one step as part of a larger effort. Anyway, I wanted to bring this discussion over here to the OAC to see what people think here, and if there is an interest in working to foster more connections between anthropologists (and others) who are interested in making anthropology more available, more open, and more accessible. As I see it, the OAC is already a key part of this overall effort. There are a lot of people with similar ideas working on and highlighting their ideas in various parts of the world (and the internet), so what might need to happen is a more concentrated and concerted effort to link up and create more relationships between these various efforts. Interested? Ideas? Comments? Suggestions? What say you, members of the OAC???
I thought long and hard on this: Anthropology will never be open unless those in the academe who are professionally and formally practicing it will shed their fear of losing their relevance. Anthropology, unlike medicine or engineering, can be done by anyone interested in human society, behavior, and culture. People in theater, social work, and marketing use ethnography and participant-observation without getting degrees in anthropology. Poets, fishermen, and poker players, who can speak, read and write, can do the same stuff too if culture interests them.
I always believe in negotiation and appropriate as important intellectual processes in making any proposal or project reasonable and successful. Let the professionals stick to professional anthropology, comparative studies, theoretical frameworks, citation, bibliography, MLA format, abstract writing and other academic stuff and the newbies and the freelancers do the informal anthropology where raw sets of information are gathered, shared, and expressed without tints of exclusivity, elitism, and condescension. OAC will be more successful if we are more open to diaries, poems, narratives, images, doodles, thoughts, ideas of people who are still unaffected by wild theories and writing styles of the elitist anthropology.
OAC can also be an avenue where surveys and focused group discussions are done. Researchers who wants to study Karma, Dharma, and Puja,for example, do not have to fly to Nepal or India. They can just log in here. The big problem is the active participation of respondents, informants, and participants. I have always maintained that anthropologists who deny employing subtle bribing for information in their fieldwork are lying. There is always give-and-take manifesting in different forms in the field. The same thing should happen on OAC.
Maybe free theater tickets, used books, typing service, bibliography list can be some of the incentives for participants. As there is an exchange of information, there should also be an exchange of favors. This will only happen when anthropology students can no longer afford travels and fieldwork and when universities have limited funds for social sciences. I think they will happen. I mean the outsourcing of data-gathering and the online cross-checking and validating.
I haven't posted much in the past but I have been around reading here and there. I just wanted to join in on this discussion because I think this one is quite interesting & important - though I'm honestly not quite sure how to begin to formulate my thoughts here. As it has been said before, OAC certainly has huge potential as a meeting point and resource center as well as a host of other things. I would like to see OAC go further and reach a lot more active participants.
As Keith said further up this discussion:
If I were to hazard a guess why the OAC has been mostly silent about Matt Thompson's initiative, it would be that the members who got the place going lost interest and newcomers are literally lost in the maze we have created. Moreover this maze feels more like an archaeological site than a living community. We are mostly reduced to sporadic discussion on the main page and the aim of becoming a Cooperative is further away than ever.
I find a lot of truth in this statement. I've often felt quite lost at OAC. I'd even say hesitant to chime in at times due to sheer volume of conversations and threads. I joined OAC some time back and have remained optimistic about this kind of open space. When the 'collaborate' tab opened, I have to say that I was quite hoping for a larger development there. I saw this mentioned in Fran's first post on this chain, but perhaps the element of action and offline meeting & collaborating opportunities are missing from the community? I can't be sure about that or how it plays into the overall aim of OAC, but from an applied & public anthropology perspective I wonder what kinds of social projects anthropologists could launch locally & collaboratively - beginning here on OAC? Seems there are some good things going on over at OAC Press as well.
A couple of points were made in regard to young graduates. Being one of these recent graduates (with a degree in applied cultural analysis and moving on to unemployment), I'd really like to see OAC flourish for the sake of openness and collaboration between academic and non-academic actors, among other things. Part of my own goals is to work with the bridging of academic knowledge and methods with social issues outside academia. I am thinking to myself, why not here?
I wanted to voice my support and continued interest in this place, and will chime in with John's initial sentiments and say thanks for all you do here. I will be following with interest.