Several anthropologists have encouraged the formation of an Open Anthropology Cooperative to engage in anthropological discussion and collaboration away from the restrictions of formal academic management. It looks as if all of the tools which have (relatively) long been at our disposal - wikis, blogs, interactive social networking platforms - will be put to the excellent task of opening up the discipline to students, faculty and non-academics alike. I look forward to the next stage of development which will be the implementation and organization of a web platform upon which the Cooperative can grow.
I'd like to see the OAC become a comfortable channel for discussion which does not intimidate amateurs or first-year undergraduates, yet remains useful for doctoral students, fieldworkers, lecturers and specialists in all fields. Broad is good. I also hope that it will become truly international (and multilingual) and incorporate students and departments thus far not so evident in the anthropology blogosphere and consequently missing out on some outstanding knowledge dissemination. Above all, I'm interested in furthering digital anthropology, which I am pleased will have a strong base in this cooperative effort.
In my opinion, there is no reason for an invented divide that reduces web-based academic content to a second-rate substitute for formal (read: expensive, elaborate, bureaucratic) channels. Why not overlap "open" and "official" academia until they are one and the same? If the technology and demand can sustain it - which I believe they can - making anthropological and ethnographic knowledge freely available should be a priority. This can reflect back heavily upon the academic method itself, both in theory and in practice.
How about an online/offline seminar series, bridging the gap with web-based multimedia, in-person meet-ups, etc? Crossing over from the lecture hall to the web, sharing teaching and learning materials, creating new bodies for peer revision and publication are all possible and positive outcomes. Breaking down the publishing barrier and enabling actual feedback with established anthropologists can only help to aid in the development of better research and analysis.
The key to success, as always, will be participation. Visit the (temporary) forum on Keith Hart's The Memory Bank website to learn more, to follow the progress of the OAC and, of course, to contribute.