Action Group 4 OAC

The purpose of this group is to have a peg in the OAC for people to share what they can do, or would suggest can be done to carry on the usefulness of having 5000 anthropologists linked (however protractedly).


Essentially Occupy it in the sense of bringing more life and meaning to a space.

Location: Canterbury & Online
Members: 43
Latest Activity: Jun 13, 2013






IMO - architects & techies

TIPI - relations to Occupy movement

AGARIC - offline activities

RHIZOME - members outreach

DIDGE - coherent media

Also see this discussion here: WHAT IS THE OAC FOR?

(you may need to repost your comments from the main thread)

Please still feel free to comment on the main wall.


This group has been instigated due to the reading of this by Keith Hart -

This group has two premises that should be answered (in an on-going fashion).

a) that bringing together 5000 Anthropologists is useful

b) that 5000 Anthropologists can both maintain themselves as a community for the purposes of sharing/learning and conversing on great anthropological stuff 

Proposal: We would also like it to grow to be more able at making this learning more of a total social fact outside of an academic or online discourse.

Elaine summary AG4OAC 1 Dec.odt

Discussion Forum

Isolated Anthropologists 8 Replies

Am I alone? I am indeed alone, as the single anthropologist in a University that specializes in management and technology.  This leads of course to a sort of academic isolation and - with the best…Continue

Started by Charles Kirke. Last reply by Charles Kirke Jan 11, 2012.

Suggestions 15 Replies

a place to post suggestionsContinue

Tags: sustainability, practical, suggestions, action, anthropology

Started by Abraham Heinemann. Last reply by Adonia Lugo Dec 2, 2011.

What is the OAC 4? 11 Replies

We have had some discussion on the main thread concerning a possible mission statement or manifesto for the OAC, with some emphasis on an apparent contradiction between the need to clarify what we…Continue

Started by Keith Hart. Last reply by Adonia Lugo Dec 2, 2011.

Comment Wall


You need to be a member of Action Group 4 OAC to add comments!

Comment by John McCreery on November 22, 2011 at 5:58am

Heather, welcome aboard. I stand in support of your proposition that,

"Marketing is an ongoing process that goes beyond acquiring new prospects. It is also about keeping those you already have interested and engaged."

This is a vital point. Attracting prospects and even on-time welcomes aren't enough. We need to develop something, either content or outreach, that pulls in and retains repeat traffic.

Comment by Heather Lynn on November 22, 2011 at 4:57am

I am guilty as charged. I signed up in August and have only logged into the site a few times since. As a lurking, inactive, overworked, undergrad student, allow me to offer my reasoning for my inactivity and apparent apathy. 
One of the things that prompted me join the site was the idea that I could participate and/or collaborate in a project. I was hoping to find opportunities to gain experience and to network. Unfortunately, when you navigate to the "Collaborate" section it says "This page is under construction.". When you scroll down the menu and try to see what projects there are to join, there is only one, the "OAC design and development project". This was a bit disappointing at first. 
One thing that is not especially clear about the OAC upon first glance, is the main value proposition. What can we get here that we could not get elsewhere on the web? I ask this not to be antagonistic. I used to own a marketing and consultancy firm before going back to college to study anthropology so I am thinking of this from a marketing perspective. 
As far as blogging goes, I have a Wordpress blog that gets good traffic and I can monetize if I choose. I simply do not have the time to blog more on another site. 
I also use Facebook a lot and have close to a thousand friends and subscribers. This satisfies my desire to comment on photos and videos and interact with people in a relaxed social atmosphere. 
So what is there to do on the OAC aside from discussion? 
Marketing is an ongoing process that goes beyond acquiring new prospects. It is also about keeping those you already have interested and engaged. I think the OAC could benefit from an evaluation of goals and purpose and decide upon a clear value proposition. As sad as it is, more people are looking for passive media than actual involvement. There needs to be incentive for people to come back to the site. I agree with much of what paulrchalmers has posted below - great points to consider.  
I do not plan on deleting my account because I believe in the potential of the OAC. I think this is a great opportunity to take a step back, and reassess goals and make a plan. I would be more than happy to help and volunteer in any way that I can. I am very excited to see some actual collaboration occurring!

Comment by ryan anderson on November 22, 2011 at 3:52am


"Some excellent ideas Ryan, I like the idea of a weekly column, could this be more of a blog function though, or should it be a contribution from someone amusing up for writing on a regular basis?"

I think it could be done in a number of ways.  There could be some regular blogs about certain themes or issues (like open access fridays or something), and there could also be days when readers post responses to events, ideas, or discussions.  So there could be weekly or bi-weekly or even monthly prompts that ask readers for short reactions, opinions, etc.  The key is getting more regular content AND participation.  I think some regular authors/columns might go a long way.  I always like to use the Daily Kos as a good example of a site that generates a TON of content and participation, and I have always thought that OAC could get some inspiration from such a site.  They have lots of solid authors who write on the front page, and also have a place where members/readers can post their own blogs/diaries.  It's a pretty good model, and the key is that content is always moving there--and in several different ways (author columns/posts, open threads, and member diaries).  Anthropologists definitely have plenty of material to bring to the table--we just need to do it. 

Comment by ryan anderson on November 22, 2011 at 3:46am



that's a good point about shrinking the room to increase the heat.  i like that way of putting it.  and you're right on the mark about it being difficult to find people and content on here.

Comment by paulrchalmers on November 22, 2011 at 3:41am

I´d also like to observe a couple of lessons from Facebook

- Relating to my last post, facebook started very simple and adds new features one by one, because it is very hard to grasp a complex site all in one go - or at least people lose interest.

- Facebook have basically done away with groups because it turns out no one interacted within them, they just clicked them to have on their profile.

Comment by paulrchalmers on November 22, 2011 at 3:37am

Yes I did quite a bit of posting when I first arrived, but stopped, half embarassed, when no one seemed to reply. 

With these things you need a critical mass of activity to bring people back, so it isnt so long between comments that they get out of the habit!

I just took a look round the site - and can I suggest that there are actually too many ways to interact. It is unclear what is the main way. I think it is quiet because OAC is a very big space, and no one can find each other! I realise there are 6000 members, but realistically maybe the room should be shrunk to build up heat.

Sorry to hammer it home but these seem to be the options to look, speculatively for content, or to choose, speculatively, where to put it in the hope that it reaches someone. . .


Discuss- forum, blogs, chat

Share - photos, videos, events

Collaborate - offer something, wiki, join a project

OAC Press - e seminars, working papers, book reviews, interventions

Groups- of which there are a couple of hundred

Suggestions for cutting down the space:

-´Collaborate´ and ´OAC press´ really could have their sub headings aggregated.

- If parts of the site such as the collaborate options are ´"under construction" indefinately, it would clean up the site just to delete them

- What´s new, if it was comprehensive and bold, could be the core from which other parts of the site are accessed.

Comment by Elaine Forde on November 21, 2011 at 9:46pm

Some excellent ideas Ryan, I like the idea of a weekly column, could this be more of a blog function though, or should it be a contribution from someone amusing up for writing on a regular basis?

Comment by Elaine Forde on November 21, 2011 at 9:44pm

Hi all


I suggest that we use part of this space to have an open discussion between all members about the direction of OAC. I offer to collate the responses at the end, in a similar vein to the thread "harvested suggestions". I have put it to Keith that there could be a way to make it open to all members, and to contact them about it, rather than restricting discussions to members of one group.


I suggest we keep a discussion open for a set time- maybe til end of the year, then produce a document collating the vibe for the admin/ tech team to work from. I see this is starting to happen organically, but, as a hefty contributor, (a maker of hefty contributions not hefty contribution-maker) I have also asked John Mc to be involved and to keep this important thread going throughout the following weeks.


I hope members approve making this almost a formal process; treating this as a timed brainstorm then closing discussion and working with what has been said seems the sensible way of getting round to action.


So, please, carry on commenting,

All the best, Elaine

Comment by ryan anderson on November 20, 2011 at 8:34am

It's good to see more activity here again.  I still think this site and the whole OAC idea has tons of potential.  One of the snags seems to be getting more people to take an active role.  So what about encouraging more contributions from the 5000 members, but in small ways?  This could include encouraging people to comment more, but also maybe creating certain threads/posts that specifically ask for short responses/reactions from readers.  This might be a way to draw people in some more, get them to take a more active role in daily discussions.

Another idea that I wrote on Keith's other thread: what about having some sort of regular features here on OAC--even some weekly threads or columns that readers can look forward to? We could seek out a small group of authors who are willing to write on at least a semi-regular basis--that might be one way to keep bringing people back to the OAC. I really think that some regular authors would go a long way here--and this might help to bring more of the members into an active role in the network.

Last thought: there have been a lot of discussions about institutional repositories lately. I did an interview with Jason Baird Jackson for Savage Minds, and this was one issue that he talked about a lot. Here's the link:

I might be going out on a limb here, but would it be possible to use OAC toward that goal? Just an idea.

Comment by Keith Hart on November 18, 2011 at 2:49pm

OK, it has taken me some time to get my act together because, while I welcome this new initiative of Abraham's and the other members it has brought me into a new round of discussions about the OAC's present and future, I have needed to consult my colleagues on the existing Admins team, at the very least to try to get some continuity between what we have done before and may do now.

We all have lots of ideas, ideas are cheap. What matters is to devise a new social form that is better suited to expressing those ideas. This is likely to change over time and this is why we are here now. The old form needs refurbishing for new purposes and circumstances. The issue, it seems to me is to clarify the relationship between routine servicing of the OAC's daily needs and finding ways of renewing our mission and functions, of developing the OAC.

It emerges that the group which founded the OAC and has run it since (the team of Admins -- me, Fran, Paul and Justin, lately augmented by Nathan Dobson who takes an interest in disseminating activities on the home page) combined these two roles, but don't have the time or will to do more than routine maintenance tasks. I founded the network on behalf of a spontaneous group of collaborators and have been more prominent on the OAC's pages, but a lot of the work has been done invisibly by my Admin colleagues, all of whom are more technically adept.

Being an administrator means that you have the status to modify the site in ways not available to other members. It need not mean that you are in some way responsible for coordinating the OAC's collective affairs. I propose that we establish an ad hoc group whose public face could be this one and whose declared aim is to renew the facilities and direction of the OAC at this time. I propose to coordinate it, since without some secretarial function we could end up going round in circles. In any case I know more about this pace and its history than most, I am Network Creator and I have experience of coordinating loose-knit networks of this kind. We will also need private communications since not everything can be discussed in public view and I suggest that we use email not Ning messages for this.

It turns out that the existing Admins are happy to sit out new developments while retaining a routine interest in maintaining the OAC. Any of them who wishes to join our deliberations more actively is welcome at any time (and because of the AAA meetings I don't yet have a definite response from all Admins), but a space has been opened up for new energies without the old guard's collective presence inhibiting them.

You have volunteered, Abraham, and I am happy to work with you ASAP. Your interests and capabilities overlap with with Fran's who has done most to tweak the site. She even got her PhD from your department. So it will be important, once we have agreed on priorities, for you to stay in touch with her.

What to call this new steering group? A development committee, action group, politburo, OAC council? Names are important, but not essential. In the meantime, we have to devise ways of allowing tentative participation without demanding open-ended commitment. Some individuals may just want to play a very specific role, others may be willing to take up a more general interest in the OAC's development. We need to allocate tasks to individuals, pairs and trios.

I have avoided saying what should be done. But it is worth noting why we might be doing it now and here. The first reason is negative: the original head of steam that brought some people to form this organization has run out of oomph. Second,  and this is my personal take, I do believe we are entering a period of unusual political potential and can draw inspiration from the movements of 2011. Third, the OAC has an open form and a global membership, but this is not being made good use of yet. There are all sorts of reasons why not. But what matters is our belief in the power of a common interest in anthropology at this time.

The OAC has never had a mission, although we had heated discussions of such a thing once. It can't be just one thing. I would like to know more about the thousands of members who do nothing but maybe read. But what matters is that those of us who do care should start fresh growth at as many points as we can. We do need leadership here and I am too old and tired to supply it alone. That's another kind of political discussion and it had better do for now.



OAC Press



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