Questions of Properness: Debating the ecology of information sharing in the digital age

March 19, 2008

Kimberly Christen

Anthropological collaboration has always wrestled with questions of access and accountability; new digital technologies have extended this conversation. Web 2.0 technologies allow people to create, remix, and distribute information (differently packaged), while also providing an archive for materials/knowledges on blogs, wikis, photo sharing platforms like Flickr and through social networking sites like Facebook. Together with the concomitant development of more diverse and flexible intellectual property licenses to encourage such sharing, these technologies provide anthropologists, with platforms for collaboration not just with those formerly known as our “informants,” or those still considered our colleagues, but also with the technologies themselves, the different publics we may reach beyond academics, and the industries that create the technology. Within these new scenarios for collaboration and exchange come questions (and anxieties) about the properness of sharing—what information can be shared? What should be shared? Will the IRB board approve this new mode of information gathering? In the constant movement between archiving (storing and making available) and amalgamation (remixing and distributing) comes the potential for a new way of thinking about collaboration, information, and access. In this presentation I use the production of an Indigenous digital archive to examine the emergence of that middle space between production and preservation that allows for new modes of anthropological collaboration. Specifically, I will focus on the production and articulation of a set of protocols (technological and cultural) for access to and the distribution of materials as the basis for extending collaboration and rethinking the debate over “open access.”

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2 Responses to “Questions of Properness: Debating the ecology of information sharing in the digital age”


  1. […] Christen is presenting a paper at the upcoming “Anthropology Remixed” conference. She […]


  2. […] Christen’s upcomming presentation. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Open access and the irony of normal […]


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