Re: sci.anthro ???

Norman Sides (
21 Aug 1995 19:30:49 -0700 e-mailed me this message: "It's Noam Chomsky". Thanks,
YaxPac, I stand corrected. But as Sheila pointed out when she challenged
me to propose some topics for discussion, you don't gots to be perfect on
the net. Somebody or other is likely to promptly correct your
spelling, your facts or your thought processes (if they feel such
corrections are necessary). In this case it was called for, and I
appreciate the feedback. I want to get the man's name right.

The instant feedback and worldwide distribution makes the net a communication
medium of unparalleled power. By the way, sheila, did you notice that, in
your mention of net culture, you yourself introduced a highly significant
topic of discussion? Communities of common interest form around particular
newsgroups. Often a common ethos forms, or carries over from established
attitudes among people in "the real world". Actually "net culture" is highly
variegated, with many subcultures, some of which are completely isolated
one from another. Its almost like a bunch of separate tribes (though with a
lot of transient participants and loosely affiliated members). Seems like
a proper field for anthropological work, and I'm sure much has already been

I didn't mean to become involved in an ongoing thread when, in response to
David's original "Does anything in this group have to do with science?", I
put in my two cents. I had only read a few current threads at the time.
Actually this isn't a half bad newsgroup. There's a good deal of interesting
discussion. As a parting shot, let me propose a kind of meta-theme that perhaps
could spark one or two threads. "Where is anthropology headed?"

Long ago, when I first became interested in anthropology, the world was a
different place. There were jungles and islands and deserts full of unknown
and exotic peoples. But, in reality, it was changing even then, and, as
Marc has mentioned, it was becoming politically difficult in many places
to exercise what was the cultural anthropologists fundamental method: to
go and live with the people you were studying; to immerse yourself in the
details of their daily lives and, hopefully, to fathom the depths of their
experience. People (or their newly established governments) began to see
the method as paternalistic. So, what is the direction for a discipline that
takes its character from this method? How do you preserve the essential
character of a science that has sought not only to understand outward
patterns but also hearts and minds?

Maybe you all can come up with some thoughts on the matter.

Norman Sides