Publicity begins at home
The digital world is exhilarating and frustrating in equal measure. On the one hand, the possibilities for socialising with like-minded others, meeting new people, honing old crafts, making digital things, sharing contents and co-producing knowledge are virtually endless. On the other hand, digital technologies can be slow, unreliable, unstable, disorientating and, quite literally, a pain in the neck. My starting premise is that any attempt at sharing anthropological knowledge with non-specialists via digital means must always bear in mind this basic contrast. Once we accept this fact of contemporary life, a whole new world of digital possibilities – and frustrations – opens up.
It is exciting to look back at the digital progress anthropology has made from around 2005 to the present. Let us not forget that Facebook only opened to the general public (us included) on 26 September 2006, or that Twitter caught the world’s attention a mere three years ago, in 2007. I have no figures to hand, but personal experience suggests that a large proportion of anthropologists are now on Facebook, which means that they are also likely to be, by default, users of Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Delicious and so on. Reluctantly at first, countless anthropologists (young and old) have acquired valuable digital skills and, perhaps more importantly, digital self-confidence in a matter of two or three years. The omens are good for further incursions into uncharted digital territory from colleagues who only 8 or 9 years ago were happy to leave Web content creation and sharing to others. These incursions could well include those outlets once known as the mainstream media.