Friday, October 28

Handbook for bloggers and cyberdisidents

Today I skyped a bit with Martin about Tunisia, the tunisian blogosphere and the upcoming WSIS. I'm still wondering if and how I can afford to attend the conference, but now - as my research interests have changed slightly - I guess I'll stay in cold, rainy Vienna.

Anyway, related to Tunisia is an entry that I just read at Dienstraum - about The Handbook for Bloggers and Cyberdissidents. Looks like some people in Tunisia could really make use of this in a few weeks, when reporting online about the World Summit of Information Society (WSIS). Here's a link to the PDF-Version of the Handbook for free download. More information about the book at the Dienstraum- link provided above.

Wednesday, October 26

rethinkig research III

At the beginning of march I started to use my blog for commenting on all different sorts of things...and I discovered a Blogger, just around the corner: Jan Schmidts Blog is still one of the ones I read most regularly. He's also one of the few bloggers I've met personally.

Interesting thoughts I also discovered now in my posts around mid-march, I was...
wondering what blogging our not-yet-finished works could do to the discussion about the author-reader-relationship in anthropology .
Then I spent some time traveling and just by chance I read an e-mail by a young scientist...our mail-conversation developed in a very interesting way and soon Chana (at Tempus Fugit) switched to writing in english about her thesis because I convinced her! Seeing her work growing (as well as advising a wee bit) was a very rewarding experience.

rethinking research II

Adi Kuntsman's Cyberethnography as Home-Work was another article that impressed me...sadly I didn't summarise but just cite it in this blog-post.

Blogs as electronic learning journals, an article by Armstron, Berry and Lamshed is something I should look at again...I had completely forgotten about this one and now I wonder if I should go through my blog-archive more often. Who knows what jewels are hidden there!

Five different ways into Blog research by Liz Lawley is a nice blogpost which I was very excited about when I found it...end of february...

[note to self: interesting to see the fun I had in discovering relevant literature]

At the same time I started to summarize [and comment] an article about "Blogs as plattform for the ideal speech situation" [by Elmine Winja, proper name: Understanding Weblogs: a communicative perspective] in a few see if working this way with my blog was fruitful.
To be honest: it wasn't.

rethinking research

In January this year I started thinking about a research topic for my final thesis in anthropology...first thoughts (this really feels ages ago now, in hindsight) were about virtual ethnography (I had just looked into Christine Hines' book Virtual Ethnography and Miller & Slaters' The Internet an Ethnographic Approach). I wondered if I coud do an overview of the methods anthropologists used to do research online and wanted to relate them to the outcome - showing that method is never seperate from result. My supervisor then asked me to look for a "topic" - a methods-only-thesis was no real option for her.

Soon after that I discovered Blogging thoughts by Mortensen & Walker
as well as an article on open source anthropology by Kerim Freeman and "Making the electronic text canonical" by Alex Golub.

Kerim Freeman and Alex Golub were the first anthro-bloggers I started reading, but soon became one of my favourite anthro-blogs too (in those days before savageminds I was really searching for long to find some more academic bloggers from my own field).

As I see now, by mid Februrary I was already reading Lilias blog - and preparing a presentation about weblogs at the department for anthropology of europe.
(had I known then that this presentation was postponed, I wouldn't have worked so busily...another sign that I really need deadlines for getting going!)

At the same time I wondered:
[...] if keeping a blog could be useful for an keeping and editing "field notes", links, ideas, snippets of thoughts - whatever. What about people stealing your ideas? And isn't a blog through it's very nature of being public going to influence the way you write about "the others"? Does it make sense to keep a blog in "normal" anthropological research? I mean I do see the point in doing so when one's into "virtual ethnography", but what are the limitations of blogging - are there any?
Reading Alireza Doostdars The Vulgar Spirit of Blogging was another eye-opener and made me think a lot. It was the first article on Weblogs by an anthropologist that I got my hands on! As it was published in the American Anthropologist it made me sure that the direction my interests were heading was a new but "accepted" one in my field of studies.
[to be continued]

references: early anthropologists (& institutions) of the british tradition

a) important anthropologists:

Details for McLennan:
Died 16 June 1881 (born 14 Oct 1827)
British lawyer and anthropologist who undertook a vast comparative research of the ceremonies of marriage. His theory of social evolution, in which he first used the terms exogamy (marriage outside the group) and endogamy (marriage within the group), stemmed from his interest in the survival of primitive cultures. He did much to stimulate and guide anthropological research. He developed influential theories on cultural evolution, kinship and the origin of religion. McLennan's pioneering work on totems (as survivals of primitive worship of fetishes, plants, animals and anthropomorphic gods) had a great influence upon contemporary social scientists, including Sigmund Freud. McLennan was influenced strongly by Darwin's theory of evolution.

b) Institutions:

Monday, October 24


Mp3-files of the ZKM-conference are now online. All in German. There's a general introduction as well as contributions about Podcasting, Participatory Digital Producing, Democracy and corporate blogs.

via plasticthinking

*gossip* - blogtalk!

I: *whisper*: Have you hear the latest, hottest,
you: no, whats that? tell me!
I: There might be another BlogTalk!
you: really? Great! Who told you?
I: Read it at Thomas Burgs' blog.

Here the links to BlogTalk1, 2 and the BlogtalkDownunder

Friday, October 21

link to my "tutoriums-blog"

here's a link to the blog that I'll use for teaching this semester:

critique of any kind is very welcome!

Monday, October 17

yemen from an outsiders view...

Just about four years ago I learnt my first view words of arabic in Yemen...I spent 3 months there - three months well spent. With two other fellow students I studied in the capital, Sana'a, after four weeks of studying we started travelling the country and did so for two more months. We had a fantastic time discovering the country and its hospitable people. A very special place to which we only happened to travel by accident was Soqotra. In a taxi from Aden to Mukalla a doctor asked us if we wanted to stay for a few days in his house...of course we did! When we arrived in Mukalla we stayed in the same hostel with him and on the next day he handed us over the key to his house as well as a letter to his neighbour. We went to book a flight and on the next day we arrived on the island - not knowing a word of soqotri, the local language, neither the location of the house where we were to spend the next seven days. Nevertheless we enjoyed ourselves a lot - discovering the island bit by bit. Ever since I wanted to go back. I've been there for only one week last year in spring but as soon as I can afford the trip I will go - this time with my husband, who is also very keen on yemeni history and culture.

(If I got you interested: the webpage of the Friends of Soqotra is a good place to find out more - also there is Rowan, a volunteer who works with a womens organisation on the island, she keeps a very sweet livejournal)

But how come I'm thinking about all these things today?

Well on wednesday my arabic course starts again, and Hiam, my sweet teacher from Baghdad is as strict as she is good looking...
So to motivate myself I read blogs written about Yemen.

One is german: Sana'ani - Ein Jahr im Jemen
It is written by two journalists who are working for "".

The Arabic Adventure is the second journal that I want to tell you about. It's, much more personal and written by Birgit, an anthropology student and friend of mine. She started studying arabic in Sana'a a few months ago and she's in the same school where I used to stay. Reading her entries though, makes me think that things have changed a bit in Yemen, since I was there. Anyway, I hope you'll enjoy these links, although they only provide a tiny glimpse into a very different world.

Friday, October 14

useful links for teaching with blogs

Ewan McIntosh
This is a summary of action research funded by the John Dickie ICT Action Research Award from Learning and Teaching Scotland. The original research report is titled “Using ICT as a Means of Supporting the Gifted in Language”, and shows how several new “social technologies” can improve writing and reading skills, as well as encouraging higher order thinking skills.
Here are more "beta-chapters" of the same ongoing project.

Blogs as electronic learning journals [PDF-document] by Laurie Armstrong and Dr Marsha Berry

how not to use blogs in education
how you should use blogs in education
both entries are by James Farmer

the educated blogger by David Huffaker

teaching with blogs at wiredpen


references to blogs as work-diary for students

I will give a "tutorial" this semester at my department. This is a course which is usually combined with a lecture. The lecture that my tutorial is connected with is on the history of anthropology. Participation in the tutorial isn't compulsory but nevertheless there are usually around 50 or more people attending it.

Therefore we (I'm not alone, there is another, more experienced student whom I'm teaching with) will split the course into two smaller groups. We hope this smaller groups will enable the students to discuss more freely the reading assignments as well as what's not clear yet from the lecture .

Our requirements are:

* attending the course
* writing 2 essays - which were usually given to the lecturers in paper-format.

This time I'll try to get the students to write a blog about their reading-assignments (what we call a "Lesetagebuch"/reading diary in German) so that they'll get used to the idea of writing about what they've been reading/thinking about. As they comment or summarize what they read from week to week, writing the "big" essay should be much easier, I hope.

Marks will only be given on the essays that they have to write, but of course a glance at the weekly entries in the blog will clarify if the idea behind the "reading diary" works. What I am also wondering about is, if the students will start commenting each others entries or if they need incentives for doing so.

Tak at savageminds wrote in July about a similar teaching project that he's planning, I wonder though, if there are more people with experience in this area.

Thursday, October 13

its seems like ages...

It's really been a long time for me since I wrote my last blog entry. Now it feels kind of strange to talk about personal things in this public sphere, but I want to continue anyway.

What happened?
Well, I've been to Tunisia - living there for the last three months. I just came back a few days ago and now everything at home here in Viena seems very different and strange to me. How can people be so cold? How come the don't show their feelings more openly? Why is everyone always so busy?
These and similar thoughts go through my mind, as I go about the usual business of coming back: washing, arranging all the new stuff that I brought with me in my tiny room (by the way: I'll move to a bigger room in the same flat - for the same price!).
Yesterday we had the introduction of our tutorial. It was just a few minutes that me and the other student introduced it, but it felt strange to stand in front of 300 people, tlaking about what you're going to do with them, IF they will attend our class. What made the whole thing even more interesting was, that I was introduced as Andrea Ben Lassoued by the lecturer - it was the first time that my new name was mentioned in public. Although I really like it (wouldn't have changed mine if I didn't) I still wondered what people would think. Is it obvious that I just got married? To a Tunisian?

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