Some of you will have been following the Forum discussion ‘What is open anthropology?’
. This has recently been concerned with a controversy over the name of this network, Open Anthropology Cooperative (OAC), in response to blog posts by Max Forte - here
. We acknowledge his complaint and wish to address it in ways that reflect our own commitment to this site and its members.
Max Forte was one of the founding members and administrators
of this network. Issues between us concerning governance arose in a context of spontaneous excitement and haste as each of us brought our different ideas and expectations to a process that took off in a few days. You can read more about this network’s beginnings here
Early conversations via Twitter, email, blogs and The Memory Bank Forum, before and after the establishment of the Ning network, included the administrators as well as other contributors and observers (Max Forte among them). In the early stages, we floated ad hoc lists of the attributes that might make up a useful site for anthropologists (a place to share ideas, to collaborate, to raise questions, to publish and discuss, etc) and several possible names. No-one then raised the possibility of a conflict of interest or a significant threat to other sites or projects on the web.
This creative process of formulating a dedicated philosophy and purpose for the OAC seemed to reach a provisional consensus. The agreed title ‘Open Anthropology Cooperative’, which came out of pure brainstorming, was chosen for its friendly and encompassing tone which for us encouraged limitless cooperation in the field of anthropology. Max agreed to act as administrator with this title in place and did not contest its usage. Then, following his advice, we tried out Ning as a possible site for developing our idea. Several of us expressed our admiration for his pioneering work as we laid the groundwork for the OAC Ning homepage. At this stage, Max sent the following private message to the rest of the admin team as part of a discussion in which he was an active participant:
“Some of you have been referring, I think, to this page on my site, http://openanthropology.wordpress.com/about/
. It is rather long, and a lot of it will be very contentious for many people in this network. I am not sure which parts of that page attracted people the most, but you can feel free to cut and paste and reword as you like
, if it helps to move things along quickly. Michael MD Fischer has already taken me to task on the blog for the ways I use ‘open’...so there will be some debate about “what does open mean”
(I think some understand it to mean *wide open*).” [emphasis added]
We are not aware when this offer was rescinded or other conditions put on it. Having said that, the admin team acknowledges Max’s current wish to distance himself from this project and would welcome discussion from all members regarding a possible name change for the OAC, in order to avoid confusion with his Open Anthropology project.
The admin team does not claim to own this network any more or less than the other 1500+ members. Our role is to provide assistance and guidance, where necessary, while seeking to maintain a comfortable atmosphere for sharing and discussion within the framework of our own published statement of purpose. We wish now to move forward with the consent of current members.
We therefore ask you to consider the problem and make suggestions on how to proceed.
Should the OAC change its name in light of Max Forte’s complaint?
Alternatives suggested so far include:
Open Anthropology Cooperative [no change]
open anthro co-op
Online Anthropology Cooperative
(The) Anthropology Cooperative
Worldwide Anthropology Cooperative
Feel free to suggest others.
The best way to improve the OAC is for all interested members to make their voices heard. We strongly request that all sides refrain from attacking and defaming the character of others. This is a serious and unwarranted offence. Let us rather try to maintain a collaborative spirit in our exchanges. A debate on the Open Anthropology Co-operative’s future should hardly be otherwise! We look forward to hearing from you.