[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
|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.
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.
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).
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.
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…]