Why You Should be Networking as an Anthropology Graduate Student

Flattr this

I won’t make it to the AAA meeting this year as I am focusing on securing money for dissertation research. #GrantWritingFTW! However, I wanted to share some lessons I have learned over my career that I think can make your AAA meeting (or any conference) more productive for you. Networking, that is meeting new people and making professional connections to people outside of one’s department, has made my academic life easier and more productive. There are many opportunities that would not be available to me if it wasn’t for that one time I met someone for coffee at a conference. So, if you are an anthropology graduate student and you are not actively networking, this is for you.


UPDATE: Another great thing about networking is that people actually read the things you write! My friend and fellow networker, Nick Seaver,  points out that “‘networking’ may sound/feel forced, but it’s really just getting to know people! The more you think of it as just normal socializing, the better off you’ll be. (Of course, it can take work to look that laid back 😉).” This is important to keep in mind! The advice and tips supplied below are not meant to make you a calculating-networking-machine. Rather, these are methods I have found to reduce my own anxiety about social encounters with colleagues, especially when meeting for the first time. Feeling prepared isn’t about networking efficiency but about making you feel confident to go out and introduce yourself, get to know people, and join conversations.



Some Basics

Why You Should be Networking

#1 The people who will hire you when you graduate won’t be from your department.

#2 There are more peers relevant to your research outside your department than in it.

#3 Opportunities are more plentiful when you have connections who think of you.

Conferences are about PEOPLE not research.

Conferences are one of the only places you can mingle with anthropologists outside of your department. It is ok to prioritize socializing over attending panels. It is a rookie mistake to just shuffle from panel to panel. Instead, go to events, meet people for coffee, go to parties, loiter in the hotel lobby during off times, and go to panels in between social obligations. (more…)

Coming to #SCA2016: Infrastructures of Collaboration

Flattr this

I am excited to announce with my co-organizer, Amy Robbins, that our panel for the biennial meeting of the Society for Cultural Anthropology has been accepted and is on the preliminary schedule for Saturday, May 14 at 1:30 p.m.

Be there or be ■.

Banner for Infrastructures of Collaboration

Infrastructures of Collaboration

As Marilyn Strathern (2006) has noted, recent decades have seen increasing calls to encourage spaces for collaboration. In this regard, collaboration is valorized for its pragmatism, as well as for the creative or innovative results it will produce via boundary-crossing. This hoped-for creativity is not only a matter of epistemic concern. In art worlds, for example, collaborative engagements are mobilized as a means of refiguring relations between art, artist, and public (Bourriad 2002). Governmental or industrial research programs, by contrast, might invoke collaboration as a driver of economic growth (Born and Barry 2010). This conviction in innovation has animated various calls for collaboration, including C.P. Snow’s classic The Two Cultures (1993 [1960]), and more recent art-science collaborations in the UK studied by James Leach (2011, 2012). Anthropologists such as Leach and Anthony Stavrianakis (2015), however, are pausing to ask about the nature of such collaborative experiments, in the process demonstrating that idealizations of collaboration often fail amid the constraints of collaborative infrastructures.

Following Stavrianakis, this panel is organized around infrastructural issues – technologies of communication, the organization of labor, material arrangements of workspaces, professional habitus, and the accountabilities institutions are beholden to – that are more fundamental to the success or failure of collaborative engagements than individual personality and socialization. As anthropologists seek to collaboratively engage experts that are already negotiating these infrastructural milieu, we must address how ethnography might navigate infrastructural issues that shape and restrict collaborative relations. Drawing from research on collaborative projects at the Corning Museum of Glass, healthcare sharing ministries, the Deal Island Marsh and Community Project, translational medicine and phage therapy, and information technology and programming, we ask what might be learned through the study of collaborative infrastructures that can inform collaborative ethnographic engagements. How do the expectations and assumptions embedded in the design of collaborative projects shape their outcomes and perceptions? How do the values and moral commitments of collaborative partners shape collaborative potentials? How might we shift the role of the ethnographer from side-lined observer to collaborative participant? How are collaborative projects impacted by complexity and bureaucracy? How do mediums of communication and making shape collaborative relations? And, how far into the territory of experts must the ethnographer cross to be an effective collaborative partner? (more…)

[Call for Papers] Infrastructures of Collaboration: Lessons Learned from Collaborative Failures

Flattr this

Call for Papers for the Society for Cultural Anthropology Biennial Meeting

Infrastructures of Collaboration:
Lessons Learned from Collaborative Failures

We are happy to announce that this panel is now full and all panelists have been notified.

Organizers

  • Angela VandenBroek, Anthropology PhD Student, Binghamton University
  • Amy Robbins, Anthropology PhD Candidate, Binghamton University

Call for Papers

As Marilyn Strathern (2006) has noted, recent decades have seen increasing calls to encourage spaces for collaboration. In this regard, collaboration is valorized for its pragmatism, as well as for the creative or innovative results it will produce via boundary-crossing. This is the conviction animating various calls for collaboration, including C.P. Snow’s classic The Two Cultures (1993 [1960]), and more recent art-science collaborations in the UK studied by James Leach (2011, 2012). Anthropologists such as Leach and Anthony Stavrianakis (2015), however, are pausing to ask about the purpose of such collaborative experiments, in the process demonstrating that idealizations of collaboration often fail amid the constraints of collaborative infrastructures.

Following Stavrianakis, this panel is organized around infrastructural issues, such as technologies of communication, the organization of labor, material arrangements of workspaces, professional habitus, and the accountabilities institutions are beholden to, that are more fundamental to the success or failure of collaborative engagements than individual personality and socialization. As anthropologists seek to collaboratively engage experts that are already negotiating these infrastructural milieu, we must address how ethnography might navigate infrastructural issues that shape and restrict collaborative relations.

We seek papers that reflect on lessons learned from infrastructural issues in collaborative case studies and how these lessons might expand upon current collaborative methodologies in anthropology.

Please submit abstracts to akvbroek@gmail.com by Tuesday, January 12.

Friends on Facebook for 46 Years: Experiencing Technical Difficulty Differently

Flattr this

Where did the 46 Years come from?

You didn’t become Facebook friends 46 years ago. So, where does the number come from. It isn’t random. It is a result of how time is calculated in computing.

Unix Time is how most programmers calculate and store time. It is the number of seconds (not counting leap seconds) since the Unix epoch, January 1, 1970, 00:00:00 UTC. Unix time is incredibly useful on the Internet because it allows you to store time independent from timezones. (If you are not sure why timezones strike fear into the hearts of programmers, watch Tom Scott explain why on Computerphile.)

So, say you want to see exactly how many years it has been since two people became friends on Facebook. Instead of trying to subtract dates like this (shudder):

Now: December 31, 2015 13:00:00 EST
Date Friended: June 14, 2008 8:00:00 EST
December 31, 2015 13:00:00 EST minus June 14, 2008 8:00:00 EST =
¯ \ _(ಠ_ಠ) _ / ¯  Years

You would use a programming function that some other wonderful programmer (or team of programmers) has painstakingly put together and maintained to convert these messy times into Unix time stamps to store and use throughout your website or application. In PHP the function is strtotime(), string-to-time. You put in an English date and it gives you the number of seconds since the Unix epoch (January 1, 1970 00:00:00 UTC).

(more…)

Tweeting Sweden: Technological Solutionism, #RotationCuration, and the World’s Most Democratic Twitter Account

Flattr this

Screenshot of article title page.I have a new publication out in the Theorizing the Web special issue of the open access journal Interface. Check it out! I also recommend reading the rest of the issue, which is a must read for anyone who missed these talks at Theorizing the Web 2014.

Abstract

The Curators of Sweden began in 2011 when two official governmental agencies, the Swedish Institute and VisitSweden, gave a Swedish citizen full and seemingly unfettered control of the official Twitter account of the Swedish government. Every week since then, a new Swedish citizen has been given access to write as @sweden, to curate Swedishness for the Internet. From this project, others have extracted the technology of #RotationCuration to develop similar projects, representing cities, states, countries and ethnic groups. However, in comparison to the Curators of Sweden, these #RotationCuration projects have been failures with small follower counts, minimal press coverage, and the inability to recruit curators.

I argue that the reduction of the Curators of Sweden to its technology, i.e. #RotationCuration, is a form of technological solutionism that impoverishes our understanding of the project and is ultimately the reason behind the failure of #RotationCuration as a solution for democratic engagement with branding and group identity. To this end, I will contextualize the Curators of Sweden into the history of Swedish Modernism and Swedish nation branding that shaped the creators’ choices in design, development, and platforms to demonstrate the complex milieu that has led to @sweden’s success.

No More Lemons! H2BAA 2015 Re-Design

Flattr this

redesign2015

I recently did an interview for the ACI Blog Index and their questions about my website got me thinking: How to be an Anthropologist has not had a fresh redesign in years! So, I thought it was high time for a complete redesign.

You will notice that the tag-line has changed from “When life hands you lemons and two degrees no one understands, apparently you go get a doctorate!” The original tagline for H2BAA was “When life hands you lemons and two degrees no one understands, make some creative lemonade.” I wrote that line while I was working in IT and solidifying my personal brand as an anthropological web designer/developer. It reflected my experience at the time trying to convince employers that anthropology was a useful skill that was applicable to their needs. When I returned to school in 2013, I changed the end to “apparently you go get a doctorate!” to reflect my new path. However, it has been three years, nine months, and four days since I started this blog and my situation and experience has changed a lot, especially in the last year. So, I thought it was time for a new tagline, something that conveyed what I talk about here on H2BAA and represented who I am today. I settled on the following:

if ( $anthropology_ma && $web_dev_career ) { phd(); }

It is written with the syntax of the scripting language I use most often: PHP. In English it reads something like, “if you have an anthropology MA and a web development career, then PhD.” This pretty much sums up me and this blog, where I write about the intersection of anthropology and web development. For me, it also expresses the inevitability of doing this PhD program that I felt after taking the path I did through anthropology and web development, as my training for both left me questions that could only be answered with the kind of extensive focus that a PhD allows. The new tagline lost the cute lemons though, so I decided to take them out of the design. (Sorry, lemons! I still love you. You are forever archived even if you are not featured anymore.)
(more…)

Aligned Anxieties: Rethinking Critiques of the Internet through the Anxieties of Web Professionals

Flattr this

The following is a paper I gave at the 2015 Theorizing the Web Conference on April 18. Below you will find: my presentation with audio, the video of the entire panel, and the backchannel conversation from Twitter. Thank you to the Theorizing the Web committee for putting on such a great conference and to the rest of the panel (Emma Stamm, Daniel Luxemburg, Burcu Baykurt and presider, Sands Fish) for their thought provoking contributions. To read the abstract for this paper head over to the abstract post.

Presentation with Audio

(more…)

#TtW15 Abstract Post

Flattr this

I will be presenting at Theorizing the Web again this year! More information on this great conference: Theorizing the Web  2015. If you can’t make it, the conference will also be streamed online.

aligned anxieties

Aligned Anxieties

Rethinking Critiques of the Internet through the Anxieties of Web Professionals

Angela Kristin VandenBroek

Abstract

(more…)