What about creating A worldwide community for anthropological discussion and collaboration away from the restrictions of formal academic structures has been created at http://openanthcoop.ning.com/ (already more than 140 members Thursdag night!) It started as a twitter-conversation, now the debate also takes place on Keith Hart’s website.
In some way, this community already exists - in the anthropological blogosphere. But also non-bloggers shall be included, and The Open Anthropology Cooperative - that’s what it is supposed to called - is actually much more. Maybe we can call it the web 2.0 version of the conventional (mostly national) anthropological associations.
More than 30 comments have been posted so far. They include following ideas and suggestions about the new community:
* A place to share ideas
* A place to find like-minded anthropologists
* A place to collaborate
* A place to hold virtual conferences
* A place to host podcasts
* A place to ask questions
* A place to learn about new tools for anthropology (online tools, field tools, etc.)
* a place to find resources (e.g. databases, good grad programs, upcoming colloquia, software, field opportunities)
* A place to publish
* The idea of an engaged anthropology for the 21st century in relation to the digital revolution
* Group blog with posts from both Keith and others
* Forum for discussion
* Online press to publish longer pieces
* The incorporation of Twitter, social bookmarking, wiki, etc
Anthropologist “Fran” at http://ethblography.blogspot.com likes to see the Open Anthropology Cooperative “become a comfortable channel for discussion which does not intimidate amateurs or first-year undergraduates, yet remains useful for doctoral students, fieldworkers, lecturers and specialists in all fields". She also hopes “that it will become truly international (and multilingual)".
In my opinion, there is no reason for an invented divide that reduces web-based academic content to a second-rate substitute for formal (read: expensive, elaborate, bureaucratic) channels. Why not overlap “open” and “official” academia until they are one and the same? If the technology and demand can sustain it - which I believe they can - making anthropological and ethnographic knowledge freely available should be a priority. This can reflect back heavily upon the academic method itself, both in theory and in practice.