I'm amazed at the number of people who have joined and added content to OAC here on ning. Truly awe-inspiring. However, I have to say that I worry a lot about the platform. I never liked Facebook much and Ning seems like a poor imitation of Facebook. Will OAC devolve into people answering quizzes: "Which anthropology network am I?" I personally prefer Google Groups because of its simplicity, and the fact that people can use it as they like: via e-mail, via RSS, or via the web. I find that something like Google Groups encourages conversation in its simplicity, whereas Facebook/Ning seem designed to create walls: Why do I have to invite "friends"? Why do they have to acknowledge my "friend request"? Do I post content as a blog post or a forum entry? It seems that layers and layers of unnecessary complexity have been added to what something like Google (and Twitter, which I also like) makes simple: conversation.

And yet, the tremendous activity already here seems to belie my concerns, so maybe Ning doesn't suck as much as I think it does?

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Comment by Keith Hart on May 30, 2009 at 10:38am
Kerim, As for worrying about people being put off by the Web 2.0 atmosphere of this place, I think a larger number of individuals join to see what's up and then go away never to return, leaving their unmodified profile to clutter up our list of members. I like the fact that Max has now moved Groups into greater prominence on the home page. Some of these will not get off the ground; but if some do, that would be a greater justification for OAC than any design features.
Comment by Hülya Demirdirek on May 30, 2009 at 5:21am
Although Lenin was supporting centralism in the pamphlet entitled "One step forward two steps back" I like the sound of this "retrogradus: principal ( a bit like the "Mether" musical band of Ottomon Empire). It is good to take those two back steps and with your comment I think you did Kerim.

In her response to Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg criticizes Lenin's vision and supports the "revolutionary movements" and their spirit but not the central committees. Of course there is no "movement" here, there are only people with their various potential networks. Still there is an unknown potential. I left Facebook after a 2 hours of membership but I wanted to see where does this all go here. I already find myself in need of sending people message and saying "please change your settings so that we do not see it each time you change your profile or when you get a new friend unless you really want this to be visible to the others". And I want to say "after you are friends with someone please send a message direct to them after the initial contact, there is enough exchanges of that type". I feel this way because although I am interested in this "platform" I do not want to get drawn in to the inflation of chats and loose my chance to pay attention to the issues I deem relevant. If I do this, it will be my political choice and I will hear what other people have to say. (Here I am cheating of course by saying it this way!)

In the same place Rosa Luxemburg (Revolutionary Socialist Organization 1904) says that historically the errors made by a revolutionary movement is more productive than the most clever central organ. Surely as Keith says some will vanish some will take other shapes. I now put myself into this I would like to try to influence the direction of some parts of it. It is politics yes and it is very interesting to see the speed of accumulation. I feel we are "seeing" but we are not just "waiting". I was tempted to write to you but was thinking "no I do not have time" after your last comment I lost to the temptation to the desire of communicating.
Comment by Kerim Friedman on May 30, 2009 at 4:11am
I suppose if people are using it, the platform doesn't matter. But I worry that everyone will simply join, get dismayed, and then not bother to come back. If activity sustains over the long run we have nothing to worry about, so perhaps wait-and-see is the best approach?
Comment by Keith Hart on May 30, 2009 at 3:09am
Thanks, Kerim. These questions should be asked and soon enough. I have been taken by surprise as much as anyone. I stumbled into what I thought was going to be a small experiment featuring mainly those of us ho began the conversation on Twitter and then my website forum. I helped to create the gigantism by emptying large chunks of my address book into the invitation function. Now, after less than two days, we have 250 members and it's hard to think how we might get out of here without doing damage to the network.

So that raises a question put to me privately yesterday by Carole McGranahan and we tabled it for discussion soon. Do we need all this Facebook 'friends' stuff? Could we diable that and some other features we don't like? Shouldn't the members be consulted on what they want and what mechanism would we have for resolving a serious split?

I don't know what principle if any we should use for deciding this issue on the Blog or the Forum. But this network has grown fast enough for it no longer to be easy for a handful of us to decide what we find aesthetically or socially pleasing. Obviously some of the diverse activity that has already been launched will end up withering away. But other unexpected developments are likely to flourish.

It's a political issue now, isn't it? Probably always was, but size and dynamism make a differncne.


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