Talk notes

09 February 2015

Recently I was asked to talk about a paper to the infolab group, and I couldn’t help but choose an Anthro paper. Here are the very low-quality notes that I prepared for the paper I gave everyone (“The Anthropology of Online Communities” (contact me if you can’t access JSTOR)).

  • Overview: this is mostly a review of a fair amount of Anthro literature on online communities and cultures, so it’s fairly high level and doesn’t offer very much new research per se, but for someone looking to survey the field for worthwhile theories to reference (or just anecdotes to use in the intro), this is hopefully a good choice
  • Anthropologists interested in online cultures for a lot of the same reasons that data/computer scientists are interested in culture (“…millions of users linked…” (pg 449))
  • At the time this was a new domain to Anthropology
  • Optimism and pessimism regarding technology and the future, but no mention of Foucault?!
  • Where’s my panopticon?
  • Some hilarious glossary (World Wide Web, CD ROM, etc…)
  • The Internet as a site of cultural (re)production
  • Bringing “cyberspace” research back into the conventional social sciences into negotiating gendered, geographical, racialized, etc… identities
  • Text analyses represent just “…one of many available mediated communication technologies on the Internet…” (pg 454)
  • Difficulty in identifying a coherent community (pg 455++)
    • infolab has its own thoughts on that (community detection, etc…)
    • the idea here is that people can be part of multiple communities; one’s centrality can be non-monotonic.
  • community heterogeneity (Appadurai 1991)
  • Maybe the notion of MINER*’s heterogeneity as applied to communities is too distinct and needs to account for this softness
  • Relating online interactions with offline interactions is necessary (pg 456)
    • The notion that cultures were completely face-to-face has been under fire for decades (Anderson 1984, Basch et al. 1994, Hannerz 1996)
  • Focus on the dichotomies of offline-online
  • Ephemerality(!)
  • Identity, Communication, Power Ideology and Access
  • Ethical Considerations

  • MINER isn’t quite ready for prime time. My bad; will post more about it when there’s a page up and everything.
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