The Collaborative Anthropology Network
A multi-service platform for anthropologists, cultural advocates, and field-adjacent researchers re-imagined as a more field-specific, collaborative, and proactive site for anthropological discourse with a commitment to promote the full diversity of anthropology as a field, as a practice, and as an agent of cultural advocacy.
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Ethnographic Blogging in user profiles
You no longer need to set up and maintain a blog and then constantly promote each and every post across multiple social media channels to reach an audience. Now you can easily start an anthropology blog from your own profile that will be automatically promoted across an entire social network of interested anthropology readers!
An anthropology job board
A modern job board designed for anthropology-focused job-seekers and recruiters.
Frequently Asked Questions
The CollabAnthNetwork is a social networking and multi-service platform designed specifically for the anthropology community – including anthropology organizations. Anthropology organizations can extend their reach into the broader community and focus on creating and distributing anthropology resources and programs to their members with the various services offered to them on the Collaborative Anthropology Network!
Anthropology organizations and other relevant institutions can also help to fund the free community services through sponsored “advertising.” We are not setting up any advertisement injection service such as Google AdSense on the community, and we will review every proposed advertisement or public announcement before it is displayed (we are open to the idea of community-created committees and advisory boards, including those led by anthropology organizations). Anthropology organizations can show their support for the CollabAnthNetwork community and promote membership and programs for their own organization through sponsored advertisements across the network.
In short, the platform represents an opportunity for anthropology organizations to reduce their technology requirements and overhead costs while exponentially increasing their outreach and improving service offerings to their members! If you are a representative of an anthropology organization, you can contact us about group plans for your members as well!
The social network is free and open to the public (you do have to register to access the members directory or view individual social profiles for privacy reasons, but registration is also free). There are paid services available, such as creating a personal blog within the community, posting a job or resume on the community job board, listing an anthropology organization in the community directory, and creating and taking online courses (currently seeking instructor partners). These services are in addition to the social network and are personalized services with greater support requirements and more direct benefits to the individual users. They are also meant to help fund the ongoing maintenance and operational costs of the community.
We are opposed to the business models of surveillance capitalism that the big social networking platforms have perfected, but people have also come to expect to be able to freely use internet platforms. The various services available on the CollabAnthNetwork are our proposed solution to offer all of the social networking features to the anthropology community for free.
Slack is an instant messaging platform for organizational and professional communications with a freemium service offering that is very popular because it is easy to launch a “workspace” for free. However, while it has been widely adopted, it is actually poorly suited for an open community platform.
With Slacks previous business model, older content slowly disappeared after 10,000 messages unless users upgraded to a premium plan. Slacks newer policy is that only the last 90 days of messages are viewable for the free plan regardless of the total number of messages on the instance. This makes sense because Slack is designed for ongoing team collaboration, NOT community forums or archives.
Their basic plan is functionally a free group messaging service with a 90-day window for viewing. That is great for small teams that need to communicate on a daily basis in a Slack workspace, but members who commit to starting and moderating channels on a Slack group operating as though it is a community forum will inevitably find that all of their content is gone for them and their peers unless they, again, upgrade to a premium plan. Not a great position to put your community members in…
Conversely, the Collaborative Anthropology Network is a social network and community platform that is free and designed specifically to serve the whole anthropology community!
Anthropologists and anthropology organizations readily use the biggest social media platforms that collect and sell their data, and their users data. Face it, some of the biggest scholarly publishers are billion dollar, for-profit industries as well that exploit scholars for profit by locking research outputs behind paywalls in exchange for institutional recognition of their work. Sites like academia.edu and researchgate.net are also often criticized by scholars for good reason but they are still used by a huge majority of researchers to share and promote their work outside of the entrenched scholarly systems imposed on them. However, that is not the point and we understand that. To be clear, we are a technology platform proposing to serve anthropology organizations, and the whole anthropology community as well. We would like to especially emphasize that because we hope to serve anthropology organizations and we do not want to be perceived as their competitors or to be improperly categorized as a non-profit organization. So let’s look at the available technology platform options, how they are currently used by non-profit anthropology organizations, and how the CollabAnthNetwork proposes to serve the community!
While the technology is now there, anthropology is a small niche and anthropology organizations are not in a position to build and maintain advanced technology platforms. That being the case, many anthropology organizations have either chosen to use proprietary SaaS platforms owned by major corporations that offer technology solutions and customer support, or they choose to get by on poorly implemented open source platforms that quickly become outdated without the proper maintenance. Out-of-the-box SaaS platforms are often perceived as viable options for organizations without resources or technical know-how, but they come at significant annual expense and as proprietary platforms they offer very little opportunity to customize beyond their initial design. Open source technology makes it relatively easy to set up a basic site and offers more opportunities to customize, but it still requires experienced designers and developers for more advanced configurations demanded by organizations and their members, as well as a dedicated IT staff to operate and maintain them well. Non-profit organizations are left with the choice of being at the mercy of for-profit platforms and their development priorities (or lack thereof), making huge investments in technology and a full-time IT staff, or – more often than not – trying to get by on basic or poorly configured installations of open source platforms run by part-time or inexperienced staffers and volunteers.
The Collaborative Anthropology Network is not a part of that multi-billion dollar industry exploiting research outputs or a social media platform collecting and selling your personal data. It is run by an aspiring design anthropologist with a background in web and graphic design and a degree in anthropology. The CollabAnthNetwork is built on a customized open source technology foundation and is first and foremost an alternative social networking platform for the anthropology community with all the technology and customer support of a SaaS platform, but without any of the implicit or explicit costs that normally come with those options. Rather than being an anthropology organization ourselves, we are closest to the second option available to anthropology organizations that want to implement technological solutions in that we are experienced developers, designers, (and anthropologists) providing, maintaining, and innovating a one-of-a-kind social networking platform for the anthropology community as-a-service. However, our mission is to provide an open social network for anthropology without membership fees or registration, and we plan to integrate and actively promote existing open access journals and repositories in anthropology – based on principle, not business opportunity.
We are open to the idea of community-created committees and advisory boards to help with decision-making processes as we become more established as well, but we take the operation, maintenance, and development of the platform itself as our primary role in that equation. Forming a non-profit organization would come at the cost of taking away from that focus and bring us in direct competition with existing anthropology organizations. This way, anthropology organizations, their members, and the broader anthropology community are all at the center of our development priorities – and user rights and privacy are a huge part of that!
How do we propose to do all of this and cover all the costs associated with running the platform? There are additional services on the network, including a fully-integrated personal blog, a job board, online course platform (free and paid options available), and an organizational directory, as well as sponsoring partner and group plan opportunities for anthropology organizations. We do also control for some costs, such as by limiting the amount of media that users can upload in their social profiles, but premium memberships are available for anyone who wants to be able to upload a whole lot more! These services are in addition to the social network and are personalized services with greater support requirements and more direct benefits to the individual users; and they allow us to offset the cost of running and maintaining the platform.
As you can see, regardless of whether we’re talking about the technology platforms used by non-profit anthropology organizations or individual social media choices, there are services rendered – and oftentimes it’s you and your personal data that are the actual product. However, none of the existing platforms really meet the needs of anthropologists or hold any great potential to move anthropology as a field forward – they were just the only options available at the time. Like many other services and platforms of this kind we are a business, but rest assured that we are passionate about anthropology and listening to the community like no other platform ever has before!