Some DANG history: Who are we and what are we doing here?

In February and March of 2012 bloggers and readers on Savage Minds and Neuroanthropology came together to discuss organizing a collective of anthropologists interested in all the myriad ways online platforms are challenging our discipline.

Originally, the catalyst for this was a widespread dissatisfaction within our online community directed at Executive Director of the AAA Bill Davis’s letter to the White House concerning public accessibility to scientific papers and professional journal publications. Allies of Open Access stepped forward intent on changing the culture of the AAA.

The more we talked about Open Access, the clearer it became that the constituency of anthropologists interested in a broader, more inclusive “digital anthropology” was potentially much larger. Surprise, surprise; anthropologists wanted to think about things in terms of the big picture.

Our discussion of that inclusiveness grew and grew until we realized that no part of professional anthropology is untouched by online platforms in some way. What we really wanted was to change everything.

But the participants in this conversation were not only American nor was it limited to an audience of anthropologists. Many rightfully objected that our digital anthropology group might become too parochial if we hewed too closely to the exclusiveness of an American professional association.

It would be better instead to embrace the ethic of the Internet itself and proactively seek out connections with like minded people in other disciplines and outside of academia.

Resolving to move forward with dual groups (within and outside the AAA) we began debating our goals and what we might call ourselves. This work is still ongoing.

You can read a draft version of our mission statement here. In a straw poll for our name Digital Anthropology Group (DANG) was the runaway favorite, Digital Methods a distant second, and Digital Interest Group (DIG) far behind in third.

And we will let our geek flag fly.


One thought on “Some DANG history: Who are we and what are we doing here?

  1. Matt – I’m really interested in learning more about this group. I use cultural anthro/ethnographic techniques in the course of my work as Head of Community of an email service based in New York City called Alchemy. I am in the process of forming a Meetup group for anthropologists who use anthro in technology, and this group may overlap in its interests with DANG. In the startup technology world, many of the best product designers and community managers are using anthro in fascinating ways. Could you contact me to discuss more? I’m not sure the best way to reach you.


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