Archive for August, 2009

Mana’o Self Archiving Repository

After a long summer delay wondering what was up with the Mana’o repository, today I finally got word that yes, it is officially shutting its doors [it has unofficially been down all summer due to the operation being run on a personal home server]. Alex Golub, who spearheaded the project has asked others to pick it up – and I’m quite sure that with all the information cataloged in it that someone will do so.

I offered to help host the archive, as prior to studying anthropology I worked as a web developer and system administrator. And being the lazy bastard I am, I would never in a million years try to host something on my home server – far too much work.

What I would love to do, is to take the Mana’o archive, change its name to “The Open Anthropology Self Archiving Repository”, and to introduce a new form of “openness”. To do this, we need to step backwards a decade, back to the days when hundreds of small operations where trying to figure out how to make use of the internet. Back then, when servers often sucked, and when costs for bandwidth where more attrocious, people would use a Web 1.0 technology called “mirroring”.

So here is my proposal:

Open the Mana’o repository so that anyone who wants to can setup a mirror of it. Use basic internet technologies to manage the mirroring. Then we could invite multiple universities to participate. By inviting multiple universities to get involved, and anyone else interested, the project would become an “open project” of sorts. Libraries could contribute, and benefit from the openness, by contributing a little time to help catalog entries and ensure copyright issues are dealt with properly.

This is important because almost every university is currently developing its own institutional self-archiving repository, and due to this a lot of work is being redone over and over. Institutional repositories are also important, but they also tend to suck for the very same reasons Mana’o did – they can never get enough manpower.

Either way, I agree completely with Alex Golub that the repository is valuable enough that I’m not too worried about it not being picked up. One option is to host it on the Open Anthropology Cooperative, and that is a great start. But I really think bringing in multiple libraries and universities, and allowing them all to post their little logos for branding, will help in the long run.

Previous related posts:

“Why the delay”

http://nodivide.wordpress.com/2009/08/25/why-the-delay/

“Self-Archiving Repositories”

http://nodivide.wordpress.com/2009/05/12/self-archiving-repositories/


“Self-Archiving and Anthropology v2″

http://nodivide.wordpress.com/2008/12/30/self-archiving-and-anthropology-v2/

“Self Archiving and Anthropology – Not There Yet”

http://nodivide.wordpress.com/2008/11/12/self-archiving-and-anthropology-not-there-yet/

Why the delay

[to explain, since this post is not very self-explanatory, this is a story about how two sections of my thesis have changed drastically over the summer – one section, on self-archiving, part of a larger discussion on open access, discussed the Mana’o Self Archiving Repository for Anthropology, which coincidentally, a day after writing this story, officially announced it is shutting its doors. It is also about my exposure to all sorts of different kinds of anthropology on the OAC. And yes, its been turned into a ridiculous story with absolutely no regard to objectivity or science. Enjoy.]

The thesis could, err… should?… have been finished in June. The topic was clear and arguments were starting to take shape. Yes, it should have been finished.

But as I was writing I was hit in the face with a tweet, which while not quite a lightning strike, ended up burning just the same. It was a news flash – one announcing the new Open Anthropology Cooperative.


Lemmings by Surreal Art
surrealart.com
Within a matter of weeks a thousand members had signed up to the cooperative, and with the encouragement of my thesis supervisor who had sent me an overzealous welcome to the OAC, I began to explore.  A thousand anthropologists in a room? Yes, very exciting. And a fantastic example an idea I had been developing in the thesis: “anthropology in public”. Funny thing is my supervisor bailed out on it after a week, being the wiseman he is.

Through the OAC I have been exposed to all sorts of anthropology. Kinds of anthropology no parent would ever allow their children to witness, and certainly not study. Yes, the OAC hit me head on, and it knocked me right out. Or perhaps I dove in head first and forgot to check how deep the water was. Either way I ended up unconscious floating out into an ocean. When I woke up I found I had drifted far away from home.

I woke up in the south of France. The weather was perfect, the wine was fantastic, and the girls were of course stunning. Anthropology you say? Okay then, let’s get back to the story – no, not the one about the girls. And not the one about the OAC, although I’ll share some of it here (that post will come very soon, once I get home). No, this story is about being delayed, and about why such delays have been exceptionally lucky.

As I said, the OAC hit me pretty hard. All sorts of emotions and reactions stirred as I wandered its classrooms. At first I was ecstatic to see so many anthropologists jump into the water. The thought of thousands of anthropologists sharing ideas openly was incredibly motivating – but I was pushed through that excitement pretty quick. Maybe it was the waves.

“Silent Scream” by Diane Dobson Barton. 15×16″ (38×40.6cm). Acrylic on canvas.
© Diane Dobson Barton 2002

Soon I realized that there were hundreds of shadow-anthropologists around me. Avatars of sorts, but with their mouths sewed shut. I wondered if with the hit to the head I’d lost my hearing. Thankfully a few voices came into focus. Some of these voices I’d encountered before in the blogsphere, others perhaps in my dreams. I listened for a while then decided to sing a few songs of my own. Others chimed in, and pretty soon there was almost a chorus playing along. Whale songs? As I said, I’d been hit pretty hard.

That feeling faded too. Soon the voices wouldn’t stop. I kept hearing the same voices over and over. I shut my eyes and listened carefully hoping to pick up on the chorus again but a louder, harsher voice dominated my ears. I screamed loudly hoping it would go away. It didn’t. My head started to pound, and I passed out again. This time with an empty bottle of rose (from Bandol).

I woke up confused and again on a beach. I felt strange, as I probably should have after dreaming so vividly about an anthropology cooperative. Or was it the rose? I could see a small island a short distance from shore. A red neon sign glowed above it, reading “Repository”. I remember stuffing messages into bottles and casting them off into the waves, hoping they would reach the little island. I remember it being a magnificent paradise, an oasis of hope. But I couldn’t remember if I’d corked the bottles, and I worried they never quite kept float.

And then the strangest thing happened. The big red light went out, and with it I could have sworn I saw the island start to sink.

Yes, this brings us back to my fortunate delay. Well, in time anyways.

I looked out again over the ocean but everything had disappeared. I couldn’t see the island. My head still pounded. Where did those lights go?

Strolling along the beach as one does in the south of France, I found three bottles washed up ashore, all corked. I opened them, tearing out the messages inside. Each paper was titled “Mana’o”. A clue perhaps. But where was that island again? I felt uneasy but comfortable. The air was warm and the sand soft. I lay down, resting my head in the sand.

Then I remembered. I was on an important quest. Travelers had warned me not to stray from the road, and no matter what, that I would tempted away from the path. They had warned me to take notes, to write as many details as possible in a magical book which they called “the field”. With those notes they said I’d find my way home. I surprised myself, looking at it, that I’d even organized the field into numerous chapters.

Like the notes in the bottles I’d found on the beach, one chapter read “Mana’o”. I opened the book to that chapter, and before me was a beautiful rendition of an island and with it a picture of the glowing sign “repository” that had disappeared. But none of the field notes made sense. Where was this place? How would I ever find it now that I could not see it? Was it even real?

And so I set off once again, wandering in search of a road, and I started writing again – this time painting the larger ocean.

“all those who wander, are not lost.” were the words of another traveler I’d met somewhere along the way.

“Bullshit” I thought.

I was bloody hell lost, and worst of all, I was lost in France. And my head hurt like hell…

[all that = OAC has proven to be an exceptional, and exceptionally depressing, field site – which while sometimes feeling like a kick in the face, has proven to be quite rewarding – funny how being kicked in the face can be appealing. I’ll be developing this much more soon, as after a few months of existence, some of the more terrible things have turned into quite positive ones…  and if you haven’t already go check out the OAC – i’d love to hear your thoughts!]

[my chapter on self-archiving proved to be way too naive, given that the Mana’o anthropology repository has gone under – servers broken, and manpower lacking, and well, overall willingness to keep it afloat – nonexistant… or at least.. i don’t know the story and hence can’t write about it hence its a wonderful thing to have delayed the thesis over the summer. ]

[sun and wine are nice. taking a break from anthropology lets you see just how unexciting it is, which is good when you are trying not to exaggerate in your thesis].

[all images copyright by their original owners – which each image links to…]

Stephen Harper abusing the courts?

“The Conservatives will appeal a federal court ruling that orders the government to repatriate Canadian-born terrorism suspect Omar Khadr from the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, the CBC is reporting.

According to the report, the government has filed a stay pending appeal of a Federal Court of Appeal ruling earlier this month forcing the government to seek Khadr’s return, meaning the Supreme Court of Canada will now decide whether to review the case.”

(http://www.canada.com/news/national/Tories+appeal+Khadr+repatriation+ruling+Report/1925644/story.html)

Let’s not forget Stephen Harper already appealed, and lost the appeal. I wonder what the Supreme Court can do at this point? It’s too damn late. Regardless of what the Supreme Court does, it shows how the court system can be manipulated by the governing party in such a way laws really don’t mean shit [unless you are “just” a Canadian citizen].

Meanwhile, over in the U.S. we are finding out that torture techniques included threatening peoples family and children, and faking executions.

When will the madness end?

[arguing with a classmate about this brought up another position: that if Khadr was brought here he’d have to be tried, whereas in the U.S. that might happen sooner or be thrown out… I figure it would get thrown out here too. He thought my position was partison bullshit. I’m looking forward to hearing the supreme court decision.]

Stephen Harper vs. Canadian Law – The case of Omar Khadr.

After supporting the U.S. administrations (past and present) illegal detention and torture of Omar Khadr, Stephen Harper has finally been forced to help repatriate him:

“The Federal Appeal Court upheld a ruling Friday that ordered the Canadian government to press for the return of Omar Khadr from a U.S. military detention centre in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba…

… the Appeal Court agreed with O’Reilly that Canada had an obligation to take steps to “protect Khadr from further abuse” and that by refusing to request his repatriation, his charter rights were also violated.”

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2009/08/13/omar-khadr-appeal081309.html

Where does this leave Omar Khadr? In jail… But at least now Canada can’t contribute to his abuse, and they have to “try” to repatriate him.

The courts have given me some hope, but then I think about a kid spending seven years in a foreign jail, being threatened with rape and urine, interrogated, kept in solitary confinement, deprived of sleep, etc…   well shit… this is why people ignore it all isnt it? It’s just too damn disgusting to imagine. So when Harper is forced to see whats going on, given that hes paid as Prime Minister and it’s his job, how did he turn a blind eye so easily? What kind of person does that?

[and as if he just turned a blind eye, he actually appealed the first decision and did everything he could NOT to help… this wasn’t lazyness, he is one of many *directly* responsible for keeping Khadr locked up this long!]

[and Canada.com canada’s most biased news source has killed all coverage of this for some reason –> If you are looking for a good anthro project, we need studies on how canadian media companies manipulate the news!]

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