Saturday, June 25

[notes] Blogwalk 9

Topic: comparing blogs to earlier forms of writing. [comment: we never did this, we just came up with keywords connected to that, but actually I think that no group ever discussed that]

What are older practices that inform what we are doing today? Are we breaking away from this?

[the underlying question here would be: does my writing change, does what I can say change with the form it is presented in? - Answer: sure, it does. The question is: in which way. So new question: in which way does what I can say change in a weblog as compared to...-what should one compare it to? A diary? Fieldnotes?]

In the starting session we also talked for quite a bit about:

Tagging places...through churches (eg. On mountain tops), it good to tag places? Possible outcome: wars around physical layers - is it liberating to have multiple digital layers/tags?

– so what can I actually do with this new way of interacting with my physical environemnet? Leave a note asking myself: what kind of plant is this? Then next person would answer (why do I not look it up in a book or why not ask the gardener – because it would be embarrassing – so do we create a place where it's not embarrassing to ask for what is thought of, as common knowledge? But also it's a way to bridge time...maybe there's just no-one to ask there, when we're walking through the park...and the gardener will be very happy to find a note saying: thats my favourite corner of the park, you did very well here. But what about leaving a note on the side of the lawn telling others, that the „park-police“ will come if they sit on the grass? Whats the difference between a sign saying this and a note that is tagged to a place and that I only can see if I've got a PDA? Does it create a hierarchy of information? What happenes when I tag the place „where I fell in love with xxx“ or someone else says: thats where I started to think about commiting suicide, that one is a really bad corner? What about conflicting ideas about the same place? What about building churches that don't offend any muslim? What about mosques that don't upset the christians ideas about this very special place? [We talked a bit about Ayodhya.] Will people think of this new dimension to their reality as real? Will there be a way to find out who left the comment? Whats the difference between commenting on man-made-things and commenting on nature? Well, guess people might answer back, nature would not.

Another idea: what happens if we start tagging people?

There was this project in Germany – „Stolpersteine“ (to remember jews): The major of the city (was it Munich?) they wanted to do this in, was against the project. Nazis would cause trouble, Sudetendeutsche would also claim their bit, lots and lots of minorities would start and claim a bit of this idea and it would never end.

This project lead us on to think about the way we interact, we create history. We asked ourselves: Will we lose general might be a huge challenge to us, to have different versions of the same history. Who decides what is true, if there are so many versions of the same event? (possible answer: power structures will still be there, people, institutions will still try to influence and official version /viewof events).

Another topic we talked about was ownership/full control over what one publishes. I think it was Sebastian who argued, that one gives up ownership of things when you publish them online. I think, people who don't want the stuff they put online, be put to use by someone else, don't understand something fundamental about the web.

The long afternoon discussion at the TU (where we tried to split up but didin't in the end) was also about the web as no-space, non-place etc. I offered a quick peek into Arjun Appadurai's ideas as well as Marc Augés' concept of non-places. Martin (?) had just read Augés' book and was very interested in hearing that. [etc.]

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Thursday, June 23

protests at my department II

Here is weblog that the protesters at my deparment just started. It only entry is a press release describing what will happen here German only - sorry.
later: pictures of the protests are now on my flickr page.


I just ordered a bright orange T-shirt here, (they also have got swimming trunks! - although I can imagine a funnier topic to talk about in my holiday!) and it's not any old T-shirt but one with a message that is sadly true: "Austria is not the Land of Milk and Honey". Background info about the campaign here and here in German.

Monday, June 20


On and of June there'll be the "Days of Social and Cultural Anthropology" at my department. It's a kind of mini-conference, a get together of professors and a few students who present recent work (programm available here). Quite interesting concept, discussed long ago and finally made come true.

In conjunction with this the students representatives (newly elected and old ones) are planning protests against the appalling situation at our department.

The problems people mainly see are the following:

- Überlastung von Studienprogrammleitern und Sekretariat - das Verhältnis von Prüfungen zu Lehrveranstaltungen ist an unserem Institut so schlecht wie an keinem anderen der Universität Wien

- die Stelle der zweiten ordentlichen Professur ist nach 5 Jahren (seit Prof. Wernharts Emeritierung) noch immer nicht nachbesetzt; die erstgereihte Kandidatin für diese Stelle hat schon vor einiger Zeit abgesagt, das Rektorat unternimmt nichts, um zu klären, wer sie ersetzen wird - da gleichzeitig unser einziger ordentlicher Professor dieses Semester beurlaubt ist, steht das Institut derzeit ohne Ordinarius da,

- ständige Kürzungen des Lehrbudgets (vor allem auch der vormals externen Lektoren und Lektorinnen), Kürzungen der Prüfungsgebühren, etc.

that is: secretaries and professors responsible for administration are overloaded with work, the second professorship is still (after five years!) not reoccupied (mainly due to the rectorate) and the teaching budget is being cut down constantly although student numbers are rising.

That the second professorship isn't reoccupied is especially annoying as our only full professor is on a leave at the moment, so my department actually hasn't got a "professor in ordinary" these days...

Anyway: I hope the efforts will be worthwhile, some pressure on the rectorate can only cause a change for the better.

Karen Nakamura

Just a short note for those interested in visual anthroplogy:

I just discovered a new anthropology-related weblog:

Karen Nakamura is a "cultural anthropologist who focuses on disability and minority identity issues in contemporary Japan." She's an assistant professor at Yale and has also got a webpage dedicated to photoanthropology. Her doctoral research was "on sign language, identity, civil society, and deaf social movements in modern Japan." I wonder how long she'll stay with blogger.

Sunday, June 19

anthropolgoy of science

Don't know if it's me being ignorant, but I just discovered an interesting subfield of my own discipline. So here are a few odds and ends that are connected to the topic:

Lecture notes on the topic (MIT - Open Course Ware: provide a good intro, I guess, few references mentioned, though)

Course and reading list at the University of Texas

Atran, S. 1998. Folk biology and the anthropology of science: Cognitive universals and cultural particulars. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 21: 547—609.

Cultural Anthropology
Volume: 16, Number: 4 (November 2001)

CASTAC-L - Committee on the Anthropology of Science, Technology and Computing Listserv. Send email to

Anthropology Matters Journal, 2005, Vol 7 (1).
Special Issue: New methods in the anthropology of science and technology (ASA postgraduate panel 2003)

An Amazon List for books on the topic.

Another interesting course description and reading list.

A bibliography that seems quite interesting.

Saturday, June 18

looking for media-anthropologists

Next term there will be a series of lectures at my department, organised by a group of students who are interested in media anthropology. So if you know of someone that we shouldn't miss or are yourself interested in a short trip to Austria - here's your invitation.

Lectures will be every two weeks, starting in October, topics should/will include media/society/anthropology. We're trying to get a wide range of perspectives, therefore the rather fuzzy title.

Friday, June 17

A few afterthoughts on C&T 2005

I’m sitting in the train back from Milan to Vienna. There’s no Wifi here, no, I’ll just post this later on.

One thing that I discovered at the conference (while watching Aldo typing away furiously on his computer) was Google desktop…for some reason or the other I have never heard of it.

Oh yes, Aldo: well, he reminded me of another friend of mine who is a professor at the university of Vienna, teaching “Informatics and Society” to computer scientists . The funny thing about this friend of mine is, that he’s actually analysing himself. That is: the main part of his lecture is about new forms of work that emerge around the internet economy – and he himself is working under similar conditions: with a laptop on his knees on the balcony of his house, at the weekend. Or surfing at lake Garda: no, not what you think! Not surfing the lake, no, surfing the internet for new ideas or just making up a new power point presentation the day before he gives his next lecture.

The good thing is that working in that kind of environment is definitely nicer than in a gloomy office. The back draw: work and free time just get too mingled and one seems never able to switch off – like me now: still thinking about the conference and the people I met there, although I actually could relax on a quiet comfy bed in an air conditioned train compartment looking at the beautiful scenery of northern Italy.

Thursday, June 16

[notes C&T 05] digital cities in south africa/durban

Digital cities in South Africa

Objective: understand relationship bew. Real and digital city

Argument: if you don’t understand the dynamics of the real city, digital city won’t help you much.

Abdu malik: writes about what it means to be African, to live in an African city: networks, find work through them etc.

Can’t talk about cities without talking about informal processes

Castells: space for oppositional action is still there – grassroot in the space of flows – using ict for oppositional politics would be interesting

Understandning informal networks and processes

The relationship betw. The space of flows and space of places

Grassrooting the space of flows

Value added by ict – Castells 2000

Smart communities

Empowerment and access

Socio-cultural responses to digital technology

Spatial constraints to ict access, but bridged e.g. by cell phones

Splintering urbanism – graham and marvin 2001: relevant to Durban, potential inequalities that could emenate from ???

Universal access – ICT-Centers not well mentained in townships

Sustainability and backbone support

Themes that arise from the literature:

Ethekwini ict policy

Ict-cities governance administration governance

Spatial connectivity amongst municipial offices I infrastructure

Enterprise wide GIS included the excluded: SMME

Coop govt. internal coordination city-city networks, other govt.

Ict & NPM efficiency, communication holistic approach emphasis on LED, SMME develomanet


Networks community connective. Web site

Access skills dev., intranet empowerment of small firms , smart xchange e-

community strategy


socio-cultural responses to digital technology

spatial constraints to ict access

education and skills development


the dominant thinking amongst progressives is how the include the excluded in the urban fabric, and a great deal of urban theory and analysis is about seeking out the invisible city, transforming and integrating it into the visible city.” Khan 2004:40

Can the digital city make the invisible visible?

[will edit this rather rough notes when I go through the article]

[notes C&T 05] Aural communities and mobile technologies: Marco Susani

Director of the Advanced Concept Group, Motorola, Cambridge, USA

Works at Motorola, rule there: don’t say telephone any more: prefer to say something like: device formerly known as phone…and Motorola does also stuff with TVs. Phones are messaging, imaging systems, more combinations can be expected in the future. Large part of what they do is experience design: thinking what people will do with the device, also effects that devices generate on the way people communicate, change of patterns of communication. Designing experiences doesn’t mean that you do that exactly – you enable experiences – like an architect.

Concept of “Aural communities”, images as subtle form of communication, a way of conveying experiences

Aural space as social spaces:

The social spaces we inhabit are immaterial, not only material – it’s not a room, but has qualities like a space – we can return there etc.

Next question: how many different spaces are there? (picture with different flower-like diagrams – will link that later on)

Classified like in Kamasutra (the way they look like! J)

People picking up a phone don’t ask any more: “how are you?”, but: “where are you?”

“Tribal community”

Communities bound by common interests, defined by territory, we are the group that meets at the pub every Wednesday –feeling of belonging

Messaging for the sake of messaging? (example of Italian youngsters)

Talk like on Skype, then type in a word and coffee shops in your are pop up

They do ethnography there at Motorola!

Do people blog about different TV-shows? Why would they do that?

You see, which one of your friends is also watching the same program on TV, then you click on them and start chatting about the program (because talk is content oriented).

Coordination of video content and programms on TV and all the rest of it: see who watches tv with you, talk or blog about it at the same time. Download a section of “sex and the city” and deliver it to friends (never mind the law! J), invite a friend to a pay-tv-programm. Social dynamics are that this community dynamics build around content – it’s a catalyser of a community.

Are now talking with MTV to discuss what happens if this is the future.

Rave parties: “community based on an event”


9/11 first event that has been documented in almost the same importance in TV and on the web…probably first example of mass access to a type of broadcast, in terms of social architecture… how could the next event of this relevance be documented, if its not about moving from TV to website, what about moving from both of these to blogging, imagined hypothetical 9/11 – techno parade in berlin, people taking pictures, sharing them, then start blogging about the event, and then social architecture is different. Then a blackout in new york happened. Last image: like the eye of a fly: everyone can contribute their own point of view, their own content and pictures as well as stories about the same event and then it all fits into a grid. Could also change our perception: why should I trust CNN? All of the aspects that we’re seeing in this little video are “out there” – they just stretched what’s out there into a strong vision, fact is, that these social behaviours already exist. Shouldn’t sociology be metereology, predicting the future?

Also did media diaries – what do people do with our stuff?

Blurb for the talk here.

blogging from C&T 2005

Now, what shall I really say? Its an amazing conference, really diverse in the different disciplines covered and as I'm working as a volunteer I also get to talk to really interesting and "important" people in the field. There's this feeling of: "you can just go up to anyone and start talking to them" and thats what people (or at least I!) have been doing in coffee breaks and inbetween talks. Seems there are not too many people blogging from here though (Aldo started blogging again yesterday) and I'll try to give some short overview of things as soon as possible. Took many, many pictures and also volunteering I have access to the presentations given, though to put them online I have to ask first. There's Dani, a brasilian volunteer who's working as a web designer and she's planning to set up a webpage with all the contact information from people as well as the slides. But now I gotta get back to the first talk today: "Collective Action in Electronic Networks of Practice: An Empirical Study of Three Online Social Structures" sounds interesting, doesn't it?

Sunday, June 12


Just a short paragraph of the text, that I've been translating:

"I think to myself, that’s the process that I find myself in, to create a space in this Austrian society, in this white context, where I can breath, where I can live, where I can exist as a black woman. And that’s for me the only possible integration, where I can exist a s a human being."

Saturday, June 11

translation day..

today is a sort of translation-day, that is I'll try to earn some money by translating the dissertation abstract of a friend into english. It's an interesting one, but still it takes some time to get me going...especially as there are a million things to do, before I go to Milan (C&T) tomorrow (I'll volunteer there):

  • get recording device, Schilcher & tickets
  • finish translation
  • print directions to juan (side not: if you go to conferences, try to go via, it's great fun!)
  • get paper and ink for printing stuff for tutoring

old news...

but still worth knowing, what's going on in Egypt these days:
women’s asylum news
refugee women’s resource project @ asylumaid
issue number 51
june 2005

Egypt: demonstrators sexually assaulted whilst protesting against
‘flawed’ referendum

The BBC reported on 1 June that a number of women testified that
loyalists President Mubarak’s party had assaulted them during a
demonstration against a forthcoming referendum. The subject of the
referendum is the proposed multi-candidate presidential elections due to
take place later this year.

The women who complained to the police about incidents of ‘groping,
harassment and assault by men suspected of being government supporters’
also said that police and security forces stood by or shouted orders
when the attacks took place. Some women were said to have had their
clothes torn apart and were left completely naked in the streets. The
government response was to blame the assaults on ‘emotional tension’ but
others described the incidents as a ‘black day’ for Egypt and are
determined to bring the perpetrators to justice. Demonstrators
protested few days later in Cairo demanding that Interior Minister Habib
el-Adly resign after allegations that he allowed the sexual assaults on
women at the previous pro-democracy demonstration.

The incidents occurred days after the World Economic Forum published its
report putting Egypt under the spotlight on gender issues by stating it
has the largest social and economic disparity between the sexes amongst
60 countries studied, along with Jordan, Pakistan and Turkey. 56% of
women over 15 in Egypt are illiterate compared to 33% of men. As of
2003 only 2.4 percent of parliamentarians are female. The National
Council for Women says the report should have highlighted the
‘significant steps towards improving women’s participation’ in politics
but Dr Nawal El Saadawi, a leading Egyptian feminist and sociologist,
confirms that ‘women have no role in Egyptian politics, this is a very
male dominated class society. We have one man or one family rule; we
don’t have political institutions or political parties’.

Details on how the study was carried out can be found in WEF’s report
‘Women’s Empowerment: Measuring the Gender Gap’, available online at:

Mohammed also writes about well as Ethan Zuckerman.

Don't know what to comment though, going to demonstrations here isn't always that fun too, but still something like this, I can't imagine happening...

Tuesday, June 7


I watched a very short but interesting video recently, called EPIC 2015 (there are two versions of it - a more positive/2014 and a more negative one - transcript here), and one scene in it (where they talk about everyone contributing to the media, although that just ignores important issues like the Digital Divide) made me think what just happened now: I read OLDaily and found out about an event (that is ICT & Creativity) here in Vienna. Is that what one calls globalisation or at least an effect of it?

Monday, June 6

holiday photos...

they're not the greatest, but they're mine..

Sunday, June 5

advantages of blogging?

inspired by a post from anne galloway I wrote a post at our anthropology-students-online-forum (what a monster-word!)...where I presented working at Microsoft as a solution to the fear of many students that they won't get a job after their studies. The result wasn't a discussion on ethics. Replies varied and were about like this:

"where do I get the necessary work-experience they asked for?"
"well, your comment didn't help much, but a nice try anyway"
and then went of in a complete different direction...

After a comment by a discussion member to get back to the "real" topic of the thread one member replied that s/he would work for Microsoft if pay and work conditions were okay and then a bit later a comment was made that someone wanted to use the thread for finding out about something slightly different, namley what other students do to get a side-training, a second direction they go in their studies etc.

After all this description about what happend at, my point here will be about advantages of blogging - because, to be honest, I was a bit confused about this way "my" thread developed. First people didn't discuss on what I was interested in, which might defnitley be blamed on me, not asking the question frankly, but then the last remark made me think about my own posting habits and I think I'm becoming more of a blogger now, savoring the advantages of the space you get through it more and more. At least to me a comment on a post feels less intruding even if it's on a completly unrelated topic and if someone feels that commenting in my blog would not be appropriate than the can write in their own blog. The discussion itself is spread out much more and maybe a bit confusing to follow, but each author has more control over how things develop in their own space...
not to self: look at this kinda-reply by Annariitta

Friday, June 3

being on the edge...

I read Lilias post of today where she cites a short passage of "Life between buildings" and then I went on a quest for anthropological concepts that might help there - concepts of space and place - being on the physical as well as "emotional" border of a group as an anthropologist/fieldresearcher as well as informant and so on...a few interesting references came up (like SUNTA, a short detour into Marc Auge's writings) but at the end I wasn't too sucessfull.

What occured to me though, was that Blogs as software themselves have some feature that makes them ideal for writing fieldnotes...they don't require immediate reaction to whats happening - like in a chat room or a phone conversation or even face-to-face contact. Bloggers observe, think about and comment....maybe they don't make as crazy models as anthropologists do...but still...

A citation that seems somehow relevant to this:
many fieldworkers have expressed what seems to be an inherent ambiguity of the experience of ethnographic study. To be a part of a group as well as an observer of its activities induced severe cognitive dissonance in one researcher; she "experienced a gestalt switch every two minutes" [Schiffman 1991: 78] between 'being' a participant and 'being' an observer.


Thursday, June 2

blogging and the "big men" in anthropology

Now, as a student you've got a certain way to look at "elders", "big men" or the like in your field. This is certainly true for me too but gets twisted in a funny way when one reads blogs.

For example Robert Borofsky was for a long time someone who had edited a horribly difficult book we had to read for an introduction into the history of anthropology... apart from that I didn't know much about him. Later I found out about a site he's got, called "Public anthropology"...and I liked the pictures there.

Marshall Sahlins on the other hand is the guy who wrote Two or three things I know about culture and Stonage economics, and one of our professors has got a lot of respect for him, which he certainly conveys in our lectures.

Now what changed for me is, that Sahlins is the chair on Alex' advisory committee and therefore I almost "know" him personally, or he seems somehow closer. Borofsky on the other hand was commented on in a funny way by John some time ago. He himself didn't seem to think that was soo funny and was quite offended by the post...they've had some trouble, it seems.

So I think blogging makes anthropology more fun, you get to know the human side of the "big men" and hopefully there'll be some women soon too!

Found later: more on this "respect" that changes:

Why join the AAA at all these days? You can usually get the journals online or from the library, the kerfufle about the 2004 meetings had something to upset everyone, and, believe it or not, some of us just aren’t interested in talking about the Yanomami any more. But AAA is where hiring happens, so people join because they have to, not because they want to.


Found at savage minds, an anthroblog that is definitely worthwhile reading (and gets people /Lorenz/me stressed out because there's too much to read *smile*), even if you're not an anthro-geek!

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