I am coming out of hibernation. Actually I escaped from the Northern winter to a Southern beach for a few weeks. The first day of March isn't the same in Durban, but the wind does blow off the Indian Ocean. The last three months I have been swamped by the task of getting two books finished and into the publishers at once; and now it's all over. (I just opened up a group discussion thread on the more exciting project of the two, The Human Economy). In that time I have been watching the OAC slowly grow, but didn't get much involved. But in the run-up to Christmas, I had a couple of ideas I want to raise with you now. Think of it as a harbinger of spring (or the fall if you are in the South)

 

1. The OAC's Mission

 

I like the colourfully anarchic feel of the OAC, the unpredictable way that links are made and ideas shared. Sometimes it seems right just to leave it to take its own course without any attempt to give it direction. But I also wonder if we are missing an opportunity by not identifying a mission for the OAC. I don't mean that everyone has to sign up for a constitution or a program. We are not a political party or a professional association. We have some good general principles and a few minimal rules laid out under the About tab. The best part is that we are truly open, as few organizations or networks are. Yet here we are after less than a year, getting on for 3,000 members, an impressive variety of people from all over the world with some interest in anthropology. So what is the OAC for? What do we want to do for anthropology?

 

This question was actively debated in at least two turbulent patches and I doubt if many want to go back there. But things are a little quiet now, don't you think? It might not hurt to ask what the OAC's mission ought to be. I have some ideas of my own, but it would be good to come up with a bunch of proposals and see if anything consensual emerges. So I am inviting you to say what you think we could aim for. Maybe we can work out how to reconcile the idea of a mission with the freedom each of us already has here. 

 

2. A new window to discuss possible developments

 

The Admins team have been discussing off and on whether we might add a facility to the main page where members who are interested in developing the range of OAC activities could bring up suggestions, ask questions and take part in a more purposeful discussion about how to take the old Coop forward. We don't know if some people out there would like a chance to have their say or to join in future developments. One way of finding out is this Forum post. We don't have anything concrete in mind, but we would really welcome your suggestions and participation.

 

Maybe this is two items rolled into one, but the Mission could be taken as one of the issues to be included under the second. We have had lots of new members in recent months and it would be nice to hear from some of you. 

Views: 418

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Thanks, Keith.

I didn't mean to imply that we should postpone a discussion of a clear statement of purpose here. I agree with yourself and Ryan in trying to organize our efforts with a view towards long-term direction. I'd like any statement of purpose to be a community effort. More feedback would be nice, even if it may only be a few active individuals moving forward.

Keith Hart said:

OK, Fran, thanks. A lot to chew on there. I am more than willing to postpone discussion of the OAC's mission or rather to focus on how that might be reflected in improvements to the home page as a means of encouraging wider participation in its design and functions.

At the risk of caricaturing our brief history, the Admins were accused of being authoritarian and undemocratic at the beginning and now we find it hard to get members to play any part in extending the OAC's activities. So perhaps we should focus on a new window for feedback and wider participation in developing our functions, where at least the few individuals who want to be more actively involved amy come forward.

I am content with a view of the OAC as a largely passive resource for members and others to read as they wish. But Ryan's cotnribution above pointed to the need for a few more engaged members to play a role in articulating decentralized, fragmented and spoaradic activities with an attempt to move the OAC forward in a more coherent way.

Of course, if this appeal for feedback and participation fails, it is then up to those who care to launch a varitey of initiatives on their own. At least it would not then be possible to claim that such people are unaccoutnable to the wishes of the majority.
I don't think we need a "mission statement" per se but I do think we could give the site some vision, perhaps something as simple but profound as Keith's, "We symbolize an emergent world society in our own composition... anthropology could be a way of talking about and studying the principles that might make for a better world." The OAC is probably the most diverse and global anthropological association in existence. Why not make a point about it?

The decentralized group discussions, as well as the rest of the site's activity, already stream to the front of the front page. Maybe we could encourage members to feed their own off-site blogs into their OAC blog, so that its content would appear on the OAC front page under the blog section. I'm hesitant to advocate the streaming of too many feeds from other (non-member) sites, lest we become an RSS reader. It also takes people off site, rather than encourage their participation on it.

Maybe we could also encourage "work groups," groups organized less around anthropological topics per se (e.g. kinship, religion, etc), but instead around a concrete purpose or problem in mind (e.g. water access, terrorism, increasing contributions from anthropology on Citizendium, etc).

We always have a steady stream of new members and daily visitors to the site. The site is not dying. It just seems, like with most discussion and networking sites, folks would prefer to lurk and observe than contribute. And the site too provides an opportunity for members to network and message privately, activities that are of value but don't appear in the activity streams on the front page.

Members are obviously getting something out of the site, otherwise they would not keep coming back. I think the trick for us to figure out what is of value that our site contributes to the growing landscape of anthropology websites -- in other words, what our members themselves value in the site -- and try to augment that.
I think this forum should be a place where anthropologists, student anthropologists-in-training, and those in allied fields who work with or on issues of anthropological import - can come together in the spirit of mutual cooperation and respect to discuss important topics of the day. Discussions should be lively and all sides respected, however decorum should be maintained and people should be respectful in how they phrase their opinions and not done in such a way as to insult other participants. This is not to say that one cannot be passionate about a personal issue or cause but that 'agreeing to disagree' is a hallmark of adult, mature conversations. Opinions should be clearly stated as such so as not to insult others of opposing ones - example "I believe/think/feel that Wowists do better economically than Itists in Wigawam because of the religion prizes educational achievement more." While facts if possible should show their derivation, reference, or original author - example "according to Professor Blah-Blah's 1983 study, 83% of male adults from the country of Wigawam are circumcised."

We should remain "OPEN" enough that people on the internet not in the field and/or not in related fields are certainly welcome to read 'ALL' of our forum dialogue. However, I'm not sure I feel comfortable with people not in our or a related field having full participation rights to post on most forums and some sort of level of 'vetting' should be done so one is not bombarded with trolls, lutz (making fun of people for the alleged joys of harassing them) and other general malignant behaviour - lest we become just as bad as some of the darkest corners of the internet.
Valerie,

This is remarkable. It is evening for you in California, but I just got up early (6.30 am) in France because I had a new idea that wouldn't let me sleep in. It comes out of the discussion in this thread and is a delayed response to Ryan Anderson's suggestion that some individuals should launch initiatives on the home page that could link the many fragmented and largely invisible conversations we have here to their personal vision of what many of us might have in common at the OAC. My idea is to launch a personal blog, keith@oac, and try to keep it up on a regular basis. Anyone else is of course free to post something similar as often or seldom as they like.

So why not launch your vision for discussion here as a thread on the Forum? You could call it Valerie's Forum or whatever you want and the description you give here could be adapted to it. Of course you could moderate it, since the facility exists here. At least I think so. I don't know the settings for the Forum. You could ask any of the other Admins, each of whom is a lot more savvy than me about the technology. If the traffic got heavy you might recruit a helper. What do you think?

The principle ought to be that we encourage anyone with the commitment to launch such initiatives on our home page and each chooses a style that suits them.

Valerie Feria Isacks said:
I think this forum should be a place where anthropologists, student anthropologists-in-training, and those in allied fields who work with or on issues of anthropological import - can come together in the spirit of mutual cooperation and respect to discuss important topics of the day. Discussions should be lively and all sides respected, however decorum should be maintained and people should be respectful in how they phrase their opinions and not done in such a way as to insult other participants. This is not to say that one cannot be passionate about a personal issue or cause but that 'agreeing to disagree' is a hallmark of adult, mature conversations. Opinions should be clearly stated as such so as not to insult others of opposing ones - example "I believe/think/feel that Wowists do better economically than Itists in Wigawam because of the religion prizes educational achievement more." While facts if possible should show their derivation, reference, or original author - example "according to Professor Blah-Blah's 1983 study, 83% of male adults from the country of Wigawam are circumcised."
We should remain "OPEN" enough that people on the internet not in the field and/or not in related fields are certainly welcome to read 'ALL' of our forum dialogue. However, I'm not sure I feel comfortable with people not in our or a related field having full participation rights to post on most forums and some sort of level of 'vetting' should be done so one is not bombarded with trolls, lutz (making fun of people for the alleged joys of harassing them) and other general malignant behaviour - lest we become just as bad as some of the darkest corners of the internet.
Justin,

We have already discussed some of these ideas privately. I read Valerie's post before yours because it had just come in. But what you say here reinforces what she and I had been thinking. We need to encourage members to try out initiatives with a broader purpose on this home page. The more the merrier.

Justin Shaffner said:
I don't think we need a "mission statement" per se but I do think we could give the site some vision, perhaps something as simple but profound as Keith's, "We symbolize an emergent world society in our own composition... anthropology could be a way of talking about and studying the principles that might make for a better world." The OAC is probably the most diverse and global anthropological association in existence. Why not make a point about it?

Keith

First, I have to admit that I have been one of the ‘lurkers’ – reading but not participating, as the OAC has blossomed, since the summer of last year. I have been reluctant to join any group and have found the proliferation of such groups difficult to deal with; they narrow the focus of an anthropology that I believe can move beyond narrow disciplinary/temporal and spacial concerns/boundaries – they may ‘close down’ rather than ‘open up debate’ – by classifying and pigeon-holing. Your quote from CLR James (“The distinctive feature of our age is that mankind as a whole is on the way to becoming fully conscious of itself”) and the recent search for a ‘place’ that brings together the proliferation of voices, represented in the huge variety of concerns and interests on OAC, spurs me to finally post some preliminary thoughts.

I have (additionally) attached them as a Word Document. With apologies - I don't know how to preserve hyperlinks in a copied text!

My entire professional career has been associated with anthropology in and of development. I have recently retired from nearly a decade and a half of working in international financial institutions – first the World Bank and more recently the European Investment Bank. Prior to that I worked as an academic to promote an emerging Development Studies ‘culture’. I have struggled with the place of anthropology in such institutions and, since formal retirement, have been putting more effort into enquiries about the place of an evolving anthropology. I believe that anthropology can play a key role in our search to overcome the monopoly over explanations currently exerted by the ‘dubious sciences’ that have emerged since the ‘enlightenment’ – particularly Economics. The recent financial crisis provided grist to that mill. I am particularly interested in exploring the ‘threads’ being woven by authors such as Michel Foucault who “Whenever he hears talk of meaning and value, of virtue and goodness, he looks for strategies of domination.” (from Dreyfus & Rabinow, Michel Foucault; Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics, 1982, p.109). Soon after the creation of the OAC, 'Antropology Today' established its own site. I was invited to initiate a ‘thread’ on Anthropology & Development. The result was the following short piece. It initiated a couple of engaged responses. We tried to open it up to others with no result.
Anthropology & Development. There is a very rich textile to be woven here! I am new to blogging and am coming to grips with the differences associated with interaction in this medium as opposed to that of the formalized text (whether journalistic, fictional, or academic) and that of face-to-face interaction. What I would dearly like to do is to get to the centrality of ‘storytelling’ and the evolving role of anthropology in both public and private business. My story begins with reflections on the role of anthropologists in international financial institutions (IFIs). These are still largely dominated by engineers and economists who have employed linear ways of thinking - with clear outputs and targets to be delivered. As a result of this the role for anthropologists has been defined/confined by these dominant approaches. Anthropologists have tried to overcome these constraints by increasing the centrality of IFI work with NGOs and/or by linking their work to that of enhancing transparency and accountability to the public as well as by contributing to quality enhancement through ‘social audits’ of one kind or another.

The first (and more traditional) approach is one that focuses on ensuring that ‘social safeguard’ policies are adhered to. These policies focus on dealing with involuntary resettlement of populations affected by large infrastructural development projects and on ensuring that the rights and livelihoods of ‘indigenous peoples’ are not adversely affected. From these emerged the need to ensure that widespread public consultation takes place so that the views of ‘affected peoples’ are appropriately considered in project design and implementation. This approach paralleled, and was often subordinate to concerns with environmental conservation and sustainability. A focus on ‘poverty alleviation’, as a development objective, required special attention to be given to empoverishment risks for particular categories of people – women, and particularly vulnerable groups for example – and to issues of governance.

The second approach, and one that is central to much ethnographic work, is to describe and interpret ‘other cultures’. This knowledge is then used (usually by others) to inform appropriate project and programme design. Anthropologists are employed because of their local and contextual knowledge. The Human Terrain System is one controversial example of this. In this case it does reflect a major ethical dilemma for anthropologists. In other cases, such as the deployment of anthropologists in the design and marketing of new products it is less controversial.

The third approach that links anthropology with development and banking is that associated with critiques of development and the exploration of ‘informal’ ways in which people negotiate with outsiders and/or sustain their livelihoods despite rather than because of interventions in the name of the state. Examples of this approach can be found in the work of James Scott, James Ferguson and Keith Hart. Development institutions have sought to use these informal networks to explore what has come to be known as ‘social capital’.

The fourth approach is one that is informed by the new cosmopolitan anthropology and involves the ethnographic analysis of banking institutions themselves – an investigation of the ‘tribal’ cultures within financial institutions (see Gillian Tett's recent book, and Karen Ho's, or the history of the development and deployment of 'social development specialists' in the World Bank. Annelise Riles’ work on the ethnography of international human rights is also noteworthy in this regard (link below).

The fifth approach, and potentially the most exciting one, focuses on the evolving use of anthropology in the purposive pursuit of sustainable livelihood approaches. This has been partially given greater prominence by the global banking crash, partially by the failure of the ‘development project’, partially by the issue of climate change and the need to renegotiate what is of value. It does, more fundamentally, reflect an evolving cross-disciplinary concern to transcend the nature/culture divide, to recognise and incorporate complexity thinking and, to rethink dominant modes of interpretation. This involves crafting our ways through complex engagements and networks; weaving a tapestry that acknowledges and incorporates multiple threads that link the hand to the head, the mind to the body. Anthropology could be much more central to this new engagement because it has been able to negotiate between the lines drawn by other disciplines. As Mary Douglas noted anthropologists are like cockroaches; they are able to transcend the barriers erected by others.

While the Open Anthropology Cooperative has been a source of inspiration over the past few months there seems to be a plethora of groups that I find makes for rather disjointed conversations. I am, perhaps fortunately, at a different stage in my intellectual journey. After 13 years working first for the World Bank and subsequently for the European Investment Bank, I retired from formal employment at the end of 2007. I have spent the time since then exploring ways in which anthropology might provide more ‘value added’ in the pursuit of more equitable and sustainable strategies.

This has involved:
1) a fundamental questioning of the nature of ‘development’ (with many thanks to Keith Hart).
2) a search for a more central role for anthropology in the encouragement of more appropriate practices for organisational change in both the public and private sectors of business (with many thanks to Dave Snowden) – and making ‘storytelling’ the focus for weaving evolving networks together in the search for more sustainable outcomes.
3) an attempt to make more use of complexity theory in the quest to move away from the linear perspectives that have informed much thinking about ‘development’. (see Alan Fowler’s paper on complexity in The Broker) and, perhaps more fundamentally, a re-thinking of the ways in which risk is understood (see Nicholas Taleb’s The Black Swan) and trust in organisations is fostered.
5) and, back to Descartes and Spinoza through the work of Antonio Damasio (here and here).

Three other threads (and I am not sure how these might be woven together) have also occupied me:

1. the work of people like David Mosse and Annelise Riles in their ethnographic analyses of development agencies and projects.
2. the work in ‘science studies’ of people like Bruno Latour and John Law
3. the nature of craftsmanship in the work of Richard Sennett, and the lines that Tim Ingold is drawing.

I do believe that there are ways to make a difference in IFIs and outside the academy – through, for example, the Quality Assurance process, and through strengthening transparency and accountability mechanisms. I think that for Anthropologists, this perhaps requires the transcendence of the disciplinary boundaries that currently constrain us (and all the social sciences). It perhaps also means a more central recognition of particular histories and contexts that can then be jointly crafted into emergent paths. But for me, that is what anthropology (rather than Anthropology) has always been about. I think we need to legitimise ‘anecdotes’ and ‘value judgement’ by foregrounding ‘storytelling’ and identifying the (often implicit) values in all e-value-ations.

I am not sure whether all these threads can be successfully woven together except by telling one’s own story – the inevitable compromises that have had to be made; the line between fiction and fact; the mis-representation of messages; the negotiations with ‘stakeholders’; the evolving encounters with peoples and with ideas; the personal contexts and compromises that rarely get written down but which inform one’s own ramblings through an evolving set of landscapes – and I am still working on that !
I hope this might help in the efforts to weave together the rich variety of threads that make up the OAC. Your thread on the forum and your recent blog input provide the encouragement to make a more structured input.
Attachments:
David Marsden said:
I don't know how to preserve hyperlinks in a copied text!


Thanks a million, David. I hope this gets the response it deserves and it will from me.

You have to insert the hyperlinks again, each time using the chain icon in the row above. If you are copying a Word file and there is a lot of crap in html, you can clean it up, if you have the time, or work round it.
Keith, I like what John McCreery said (March 5). I'm seeking a place "where I can talk about my work to sympathetic colleagues who provide useful feedback and point me to people and sources I don't yet know about but find myself delighted to discover."

Perhaps a Mission Statement could be developed from this?

As for contention, there is something to be said for heated debate. I've found that it often helps to strip away stereotypes so that I'm able to see more clearly the true nature of something.
Because I think where my emphasis was a bit misunderstood I'll define first I guess what I mean by 'in the field.' For 'in the field' I mean using or doing anthropology either as a professor, college student, applied anthropologist, at a non-profit/charity/NGO, using any of the related or subset sciences such linguistics/primatology/forensics/medicine/sociology/evolutionary sciences/environmental sciences/etc. in an anthropological context for their work/studies/ or school-work, using the methodology for the government or private sector, using anthropology in the medical field, using anthropology-based methods for other social betterment organizations (religious or secular), and using methods derived from anthropological research or discourse in any field not mentioned or to be invented in the future. I know this is a very broad concept of 'in the field' but I think it encompasses the idea that anthropology is a growing field and is used in many cross disiplinary aspects - something which needs to be addressed in the definition (but not just in this forum but field wide).

Secondly, I really don't want a 'separate forum' as I'm sort of also concerned by it being too fragmented already. I also think what I'm talking about when it comes to 'trolls' might have been misinterpreted by some. What I'm talking about here is non-anthros coming in and posting away glibly and spitefully - thus ruining the forum. There is a popular interest in anthropology by those not in the field especially by those into popular cultural studies books like those by Geographer Jared Diamond; fictional Forensic works like the TV shows CSI and Dexter, plus books like the Temperance Brennan series by Forensic Anthropologist Kathy Reichs, Science Fiction programs with an anthropological element to them (BBC's Primeval, Indiana Jones, Star Trek), and in popular Agnostics/Atheist books such as those by Evolutionary Biologist Richard Dawkins - all of which bring me to the future potential of "trolls." I am not really concerned about those who are 'not in the field' but interested in reading our discourse - I am all for them educating themselves in how we go about debating these things and getting a real understanding of the science. My concern is IF they start actively posting there is the potential for this forum to turn into a "free for all." Such people - often because they are not in the field - ruin a forum by rudeness (why they are called "Trolls" in internet speak) and/or excessive questions that anyone with a few college level courses or better (aka a student anthropologist) easily knows the answer to. I do feel those who are not 'in the field' as defined previously, especially can benefit from having a place to discuss anthropological topics, but it should NOT be in our main OAC forums. I have seen MANY internet forums be brought down by such people and I wish to prevent that in the first place by stating my opinion here and in my first statement. However I do not want to be in-charge of any new forum for these 'potential publics' to borrow a term from my marketing days as I rather they remain just reading and NOT participating in the main forums. If this does become a cause for concern or their does develop in the future an interest from people not in our field or allied fields to join the forum then maybe a different category of membership - which is only allowed to email questions and NOT post on the forum - should be created for them at that time.

Now on the other hand if someone who is in 'our field' (as widely defined previously) wants to just lurk about and read as well - that is up to them. Obviously they have the right to participate as a member of our field if they wish but I don't think it should be enforced or anything as people get busy with family concerns, they get sick, they go out to other countries with crappy internet, they get busy with university concerns - making or grading papers - so don't have the time to post, etc. all valid reasons to be gone or have limited participation.

Afterall I'd rather we all concentrate on the real world - which is so in need of our help and our methodology - than the forum, which albeit interesting and fun - doesn't really help our survival prospects as a people. Does this make sense now?

Sorry for typos as I didn't have time to run this via Word or other spell check.
Thanks for clarifying your position, Valerie. I half thought you might be talking about general policy rather than one more talking shop among many. But It would be hard to impose such a view on the whole cooperative and, in my view, undesirable. For the time being and indefinitely, the open character of our cooperative makes it inevitable that our efforts will be more fragmented than unified. For the same reason we prefer open access to moderated commentary, even if this leads to having to cope with some spammers. Part of this thread has raised the question of how we might inject greater coherence into what is already highly diverse and decentralized. I don't think we can or should move to a single centralized model.

You make quite a strong division between those who have a professional interest in anthropology and the rest. I am sure that the vast majority of our members will fall into the first category (including students). But I strongly reject the idea that anthropology belongs to a self-appointed guild and believe that we have a lot to gain by embracing a wider definition of our community and its component visions. The professional associations of the twentieth century already tried to stitch up that constituency and I think we can do better.

Even more contentious is your claim that trouble-makers are more likely to come from outside the "field" than from within it. We all vary in what we understand by a nuisance, but in previous periods of let us say animated contention, almost all the most violent attacks came from people whom you would consider to be "in our field". I don't know if you have carried out any informal analysis of this problem, but I can't think of any "troll" so far who wasn't part of anthropology inc. in some way. Of course, it is hard to tell who these people are when they conceal their identity and that is why the Admins have consistently asked members to provide adequate information about themselves and their relationship to anthropology.

I hope that you will treat these comments as personal disagreement with some of your premises and not as an official putdown. The issues you have raised are very important and I hope they provoke more discussion by our members.

Valerie Feria Isacks said:
Because I think where my emphasis was a bit misunderstood I'll define first I guess what I mean by 'in the field.' .
I was talking mainly in my experiences in other forums where people not part of the main targeted audience or at least something closely related totally ruined the experience for so many that longterm, valued members stopped participating. I've been in a few forums and social sites that have basically imploded this way. I did tally at one point as I am oft to do - out of 13 sites that imploded (closed or have hardly anyone on them compared to peak use) that I was a part of (including a few anthropology/social science ones) - 10 were full of negative comments by people outside the target audience, 2 were full of negative comments from people inside the field, 1 was beaten by a better designed website that thousands of ex-users of the first site went too - one could even call that a cyber-diasporia if one were so bold.

But I don't know if my personal experience mirrors the larger whole of the internet or anthropology forums in particular - and my sample size is crazy small too so I'm not going to call this a 'survey' or research but merely a 'tally' of my personal experience.

It obviously doesn't mean that you can't have it where it is someone within the target group (this case anthropology) ruin a forum as well. I wonder if anyone has done a proper survey of those who participated in forums or social websites that went and imploded - not my subset but would be a fascinating read notheless - nes pas!

Actually, I didn't find this argument/thread insulting or upsetting at all, merely academic. To be honest as a fomer member in several religious orders of several different religions - in particular eastern and newer ones - I was probably more upset about your assumptions in the 'organic' religion thread. This is why I always try to put that topic in terms of Émile Durkheim's more scientific framework - I don't want to force my 'truth' down others throats because what may be adaptive for me might be maladaptive for them. I also believe strongly in their right to respectfully disagree with me as long as it doesn't prevent me from doing what I want to do with my life and body. So yeah this wasn't really heated to me as no personal stake here as I'm cool with the level of moderation and can easily avoid the areas I might find contentious or a timesync.
Returning to this thread after a long break, I note that, while phrased in different ways, we are still mainly talking about the desire for openness on the one hand and the danger of fragmentation on the other.

There have been proposals advocating more stringent membership criteria and more active moderation that would not only contradict the desire for openness but also impose an additional burden on administrators who already have more than enough to do. I would like to suggest, instead, some measures would reduce fragmentation while preserving openness and may (here I can only throw myself on the mercy of the more technically competent here) be relatively simple to implement.

1. A proposal I have made before — a simple sunset rule. If there is no activity on a group for X number of days (X=a week, 10 days, a month, whatever), the group is removed to an archive. I don't know how or if this can be done in Ning, but as a programming chore it is theoretically speaking a rudimentary task: the system notes the time when a group was last visited, compares that time to its internal clock, if the difference between the two times is greater than X, it automatically throws the switch that starts the delisting and archiving routine. The ability to start new groups would remain intact; but those that don't go anywhere or get stuck will automatically disappear. The effect will be a continual pruning that leaves only the flourishing branches of the tree visible, together with room for new growth.

2. An announcements area, combined with a fiercely enforced rule against spamming groups with announcements of general interest. It is nice to know that X is planning a panel at the AAA or that Y has recently published a book or article or that Z is looking for colleagues or data for a certain project. But finding the same message in multiple groups is tedious and off-putting. An announcements area, especially combined with the kind of index system that Francine Barone has set up for the groups would be much appreciated.

3. A centralized files area. This would be for people who want to upload materials. Currently, at least in my experience, this means attaching a file to a message attached to a group, which means that if I recall a paper I want to retrieve I have to remember not only who but also which group, then read through the messages to find the one to which the file was attached....Again unnecessary tedium. I am thinking of a facility like that in BaseCamp, which allows files to be attached to messages but also makes the files accessible through a central files repository, accessed through a "Files" command. I would like to be able to say to someone, "Did you see the piece that X uploaded and point them to the file without sending them on a wild goose chase through a group in which they may have no other interest.

4. It is hard for me to see a functional difference between Forums and Groups. Is it necessary to have both? Why not go with one or the other?

All of these suggestions are made in the spirit of the great American housewife humorist Erma Brombeck, author of such classics as The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank McGraw-Hill, 1976, and If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits? McGraw-Hill, 1978. Discussing how to clean out a refrigerator, she proposed a simple rule: "When in doubt, throw it out." The aim is not to rebuild the refrigerator, only to freshen it up a bit and make its contents easier to access.

Reply to Discussion

RSS

Translate

OAC Press

@OpenAnthCoop

Events

© 2020   Created by Keith Hart.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service