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"The future is a distant memory" Anthropology • Web • Media • Society • Ethnography

Last Build Date: Tue, 06 Mar 2018 07:44:21 +0000


The Essential Conditions of Good Anthropological Fieldwork

Sat, 23 Jan 2016 16:15:00 +0000

The anthropologist must study the whole of the social life. It is impossible to understand clearly and comprehensively any part of a people's social life except in the full context of their social life as a whole. Though he may not publish every detail he has recorded, you will find in a good anthropologist's notebooks a detailed description of even the most commonplace activities, for example, how a cow is milked or how meat is cooked. Also, though he may decide to write a book on a people's law, on their religion, or on their economics, describing one aspect of their life and neglecting the rest, he does so always against the background of their entire social activities and in terms of their whole social structure. 

Such, very briefly and roughly, are the essential conditions of good anthropological fieldwork.

Evans-Pritchard, E. E. 1951. Social Anthropology. London: Cohen & West. pp. 77-80.

Learning from failure: The case of the disappearing Web site

Sun, 09 Aug 2015 12:46:00 +0000

This article that I wrote with David Zeitlyn and Viktor Mayer-Schönberger based on the digital ethnographic research I did for the Oxford Internet Institute/Oxford Anthropology in 2014/15 came out in May 2015. I've been traveling and working in Europe this summer and haven't had time to post it until now. Read it online (for free!) at First Monday: Learning from Failure: The case of the disappearing web site.

Abstract: This paper presents the findings of the Gone Dark Project, a joint study between the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology and the Oxford Internet Institute at Oxford University. The project has sought to give substance to frequent reports of Web sites “disappearing” (URLs that generate “404 not found” errors) by tracking and investigating cases of excellent and important Web sites which are no longer accessible online. We first address the rationale and research methods for the project before focusing on several key case studies illustrating some important challenges in Web preservation. Followed by a brief overview of the strengths and weaknesses of current Web archiving practice, the lessons learned from these case studies will inform practical recommendations that might be considered in order to improve the preservation of online content within and beyond existing approaches to Web preservation and archiving.

There's a PDF download available on my Academia page. Feel free to follow.

Are any other anthropologists working on digital preservation? Let me know in the comments.

Survey for Anthropologists

Wed, 19 Mar 2014 16:20:00 +0000

The Open Anthropology Cooperative exists because back in 2009, a group of like-minded anthropologists from around the world came together to create something genuinely new using a combination of free and open technologies, social media and self-government. In 2014, we're now looking at a fairly altered media landscape. Anthropology has also moved on, with greater awareness of open access, public anthropology and academic power imbalances, all originally sources of the OAC's founding philosophies. We were occupying academic anthropology before it became mainstream!

The OAC homepage has nearly 8,000 members. Our Facebook group is catching up with almost 4,000 members joining in the first year alone. What's more, some (probably a lot) of those new FB members do not have an account or profile at the OAC network. How can we unite the two audiences and encourage more participation between platforms? What are your most meaningful interactions at the OAC and how can your experience be improved? It's time to re-evaluate, grow and develop the site. For this, we need your help.

Take the brief survey here: OAC Member Survey 2014 (Survey closes March 31, 2014)

This survey is part of an effort by a team that includes Keith Hart, Ryan Anderson, Kate Wood and myself (Fran Barone). If you're up for the challenge, you can always join the team.

You can also post any comments or questions about this survey or your ideas for future site development in the OAC forum.

Not familiar with our Facebook page? Explore the OAC on Facebook.

Global cities: digital urbanisation in the 21st century

Sun, 02 Mar 2014 16:51:00 +0000

Full details about my panel at IUAES/JASCA Inter-congress 2014 are now available. View the complete list of accepted papers and abstracts here. The conference will take place from 15th to 18th May 2014 in Chiba City, Tokyo, Japan. Please share and attend!

The overall theme of the conference is The Future with/of Anthropologies. Registration is open. Follow the link for information and fees.

Global cities: digital urbanisation in the 21st century (Commission on Urban Anthropology)

The landscape for Anthropological investigation is changing rapidly with the approaching ubiquity of digital communications, the social relations forged on these, and the material outcomes of distributed social networks and processes that emerge on a global stage. Digital relationships must not be viewed as a 'special' aspect of people's social lives, but as increasingly central in day to day life.

Late 20th Century thought anticipated a homogeneous global culture occupying a virtual global village. Instead, digital social relations increasingly are critical elements in the social networks of formerly locale based rural and urban populations. Rather than moving towards a mono-cultural global village, we find an increase in local heterogeneity, with individual fractions spanning a global venue. We are seeing great changes in the organisation and operation of urban and rural locales, whether we are considering people in the remote Pamir Corridor in Tajikistan, or Silicon Valley in the USA.

At the turn of the 21st century, the concepts of place and space are being revalued, and the relation of people to places and spaces is being reconsidered mainly within experiential and phenomenological approaches. The connection of people with places acquires new meaning in the context of digital networks, where a sense of place is rapidly being displaced and altered by new technologies. These new technologies attribute increased significance and value to places through 'opening up' places to a world net-based audience and by enhancing the specific and unique character of each locale through provision of direct comparators.

Gone Dark Project: Preserving the vanishing web

Fri, 28 Feb 2014 20:01:00 +0000

The Oxford Anthropology "Gone Dark" Project on web preservation is now on Facebook. "Like" the page to join us. You can also take part in further discussion at the Open Anthropology Cooperative: What happens when websites die?My request for reviews and link to Dallas eyeglass mogul H. Doug Barnes' multimillionaire profile netted me a kind response from @DBVisionEyewear explaining that the company is new and inviting me to be their first reviewer, even going as far as to offer me a complimentary pair of glasses. The personal touch sold it for me and I placed my first in-home try-on order for 4 demo frames. Later, I would receive a tweet and blog comment from Nancy (@teagreenmint) raving about the quality and price of her digital glasses from DB Vision. You can read about her experience buying from a DB Vision kiosk at RiteAid here. Apart from some delays with shipping (20 days from start to finish with some gaps in communication) her order was packed well and she is very happy with her glasses and the customer service. I love that social media can so easily change the way companies do business and consumers find information and like-minded shoppers. This is one of the reasons why I decided to write these reviews. Many thanks to Nancy for getting in touch![Update] Hot off the presses: If you're visiting from Texas, be sure to check out this article over at Dallas News for more information about the Barnes family, DB Vision's innovative business plan, its in-store and mall locations, and how to purchase your frames from one of their kiosks. I like this quote in particular:As for competitive reception at the mall: "It’s been bloody murder," he says. "We knew that they weren't going to be happy, but we didn’t know how bad of a reaction we were going to get." DB Vision opened 20 feet away from the entrance of the EyeMasters in NorthEast Mall in Hurst. "They would just stand in their doorway and glare at us," Barnes says. "They forced us to move to the center of the mall. It’s next to the Gap, so it's actually better for us."That's how you know you're doing something right!Note that the frame options and buying process differ in-person from online and that this review is for the website only. Already purchased from DB Vision at an offline location? Be sure to share your review in the comment section below.Customer ServiceMy Twitter contact from DB Vision kept in steady communication with me throughout my ordering process and answered all of my questions (there were many) in a cheerful, polite and prompt manner. I also received a helpful email from Matt McBride answering some of my questions about the company's background, lenses and home try-on service. For instance, he gave me this bit of background about the company:Who is DB Vision?DB Vision is the newest optical experience by Dr. Barnes, – a visionary committed to value and quality for more than 37 years, and who owns and operates more than 130 optical retail stores in 32 states. Based out of its home office in Farmers Branch, Tx, DB Vision is focused on developing the best online optical retail experience possible, along with small optical retail footprint solutions in malls and pharmacies. Because my online order was being dealt with personally – there are no DB Vision kiosks in New York at present – I had no delays and felt that there was always someone at hand to help me. The website could do with some improvements to streamline the ordering process (more on that below), but I could not have asked for more patient customer service. By the end, I had opted for 4 home trials spaced over a month and asked plenty of questions about the lenses, coatings, edge polish, frames, etc. I have yet to encounter a single offline optician who would be as generous with their time and information as that of the online retailers reviewed here.As far as social media engagement, I dealt mostly via DM on Twitter. There have been only a few public posts on that account, [...]