Hi Dan. I am a student in the program at UCL mentioned above. Would suggest you give an overview of this branch of anthro, include examples of topics that it may focus on (ex. ewaste, digital divides, social media, etc.), other disciplines involved with its study (STS, CMC, computer science, etc.) and perhaps a reading list of some interesting work currently happening in the field. For example, Jerome Lewis's work developing handheld GPS units to combat illegal logging (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7218078.stm) or UCL fellow Stefana Broadbent's work on digital intimacy (http://blog.ted.com/2009/07/session_3_runni_1.php and http://www.ted.com/talks/stefana_broadbent_how_the_internet_enables...). Hope this helps.
I'm TA'ing for Anthro 101 this semester and am tasked with lecturing to the class for one entire session. I'm interested in presenting something on digital anthropology and/or anthropology of the internet. I don't have any lecture prepared for that topic. Any suggestions on what a good topic would be considering this is just one lecture in an intro to cultural anthropology course? Suggestions are greatly appreciated.
I think there is a tendency for American anthropologists to focus on culture while British anthropologists tend to be more interested in social relations/organization, but one of the nice things about coming from a more peripheral place like Stockholm University is that we perhaps have greater freedom in looking at both, e.g. the social organization/distribution of culture (a la Hannerz). Still, I think Boellstorff's and Kelty's work are excellent, not least since they dig deeper into on-line social forms than Miller and Slater did. Thus Kelty actually says something meaningful (some pun intended) about the culture of the Internet, based on the values and beliefs of the open source community (which certainly exists empirically), which is a topic that Miller (unfortunately) stays clear of.
Would love to hear more about the Asian and African work. References to share?
Beck J said:I was wondering, do you think there is a tendency for American academics to think culture and European academics to think social and therefore the Americans go off searching for cultures like in SL and WOW cultures and Europeans go off looking for self sustaining networks and what people do? Aquestion from my teacher btw. Also I am trying to read some Asian and African approaches to the Internet to see they have produced anything better.
Oh btw just to reply to the digital label, I know that the digital thingy is a big part of it all - discrete packets/pulses but so too is all the other stuff such as developments in material science for example. The problem I have with digital is that it is a marketing tool used to sell things so now everything is digital, but my use of my ipod or phone is not digital.
Beck J said:yes I have copies of Boellstorf's and Kelty's works that you mention. They differ from Miller I think in that Miller is adamant about placing Internet use in a place which appeals to me. I think Postill from the UK is another anthropologist who worked in Indonesia or Malaysia, I cant remember which, who also seems to want to come at the internet from the perspective of place, I maybe wrong there. Boellstorf's and Kelty's work is interesting but its focused on online and I am not sure I think of it as anthropological in the way Ithink Miller's is. I kept wondering when I read their works - where are all the people? I also found Kelty's work loaded with ideological baggage - treating the open source group as if itis a group. I like Miller''s approach because he takes a real group of people that he knows and tells us a little about how they are using the Internet andprovides a way that we can use to compare across places.
Yes that report is bizarre the more I think about it. I am thinking that perhaps the academics had little control over the final production and that might be the problem. Funny, it could be about ownership of content. We just had Rupert Murdoch(the owner of News Corp) attacking free content providers like BBC and ABC (Oz) and advising the Chinese to control piracy and limit free content. The head of the ABC here in Oz has criticised Murdoch as being out of touch. I think Murdoch might be the one on the ball somehow - because I can't see capital just leaving the internets alone. But I dont know.
Paula Uimonen said:I use the term digital anthropology to capture a wide range of digital technologies (and the process of digitisation that Keith elaborated on, which makes a fundamental difference). You could say these technologies are also broadly defined as ICTs (which in itself tends to be loosely defined), if the term incorporates things like digital photography and VDO, or digital television as you mention, which I like to include in digital anthropology.
I am working on a definition of digital anthropology along the lines of "the anthropology of the development and use of digital media and communication technologies in different social and cultural contexts." Would appreciate comments on this as it is work in progress.
I am also disturbed by the Digital Anthropology Report, and my guess is that unless anthropologists speak up equally loud and clear, with an empirically grounded critical voice, this telecom report of dubious quality will function as a canon for various decision makers and possibly the general public.
As for the suggestion that nothing substantive has been produced by anthropologists in this field since Miller and Slater's book of 2000, I beg to differ. To substantiate my point, may I start by pointing to two excellent books published only last year:
Boellstorff, Tom. 2008. Coming of Age in Second Life. An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Kelty, Christopher. 2008. Two Bits. The Cultural Significance of Free Software. Duke University Press. Online at http://twobits.net
I'd be happy to share my reading list in Digital Anthropology as Keith suggested, but need further advise on where to post it.
Beck J said:I have a question as someone who is not yet completed studies but wants to work in anthropology of ICts field. Why are people referring to this field as digital anthropology? For instance, Paula Uimonen called her course "Digital Anthropology" and this discussion is called "Digital anthropology" yet all the content refers to ICTs and specifically Internet and mobile technologies and more specifically everyday usage of them - I think. Should we be including digital television in these discussions, as well as interfaced objects such scanners, robots, locators and so on.
Hi Paula and Keith,
I;m currently junior researcher in center of anthropological studies university of Indonesia. I always put attention in this kind topics since I'm finishing my undergraduate thesis about the multiplicity and ambiguity of identity among Indonesian Hackers.