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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Maybe it's a Toto-meets-tornado kind of thing, but folks in Kansas are spinning out some cool Web stuff. The "online journalism" world has been showering the Lawrence Journal World, Lawrence. com and its construction framework, Django, with awards and praise for more than a year... and Djangistas have gone on to do more cool stuff in Chicago, Washington, Naples (see Studio 55) and Knoxville.

Meanwhile in Manhattan, Kan., it's the anthropologists who have built something extra-sticky on the Web: Assistant Professor Mike Wesch's creative storytelling about Web 2.0, using a video posted at YouTube. As a former anthropology major myself who taught a course called Digital Culture, I think his screencast is wonderful. It reminds me a little of Mitch Stephens thoughts about fast-cut video, even though he's in that other Manhattan.

I also noticed an old familiar term in the online ethnographers' pages, "Nacirema." (No link -- you figure it out.) I wonder if we can start a subdivision of Nacirema studies for the Latigid Nacirema, a rapidly growing clan... although it's difficult to do ethnography of your own culture and clan... something like  journalists trying to set aside their own preconceptions and biases to tell fair, accurate and multifaceted stories. In both cases, we try.

The first Nacirima article I read was by Willard Walker, anthropology department head and member of my thesis committee at Wesleyan University. He analyzed the "folk linguistics of the Nacirima"... inspired by an earlier study of Nacirema "body ritual," including the cult of the "holy mouth man." (My own work was with the Hsiri Nacirema, although I didn't call them that. They also have a major ritual day arriving next month. I should say "we," because I had those "my own clan" problems there, too.)

As for the Latigid Nacirema, perhaps the Kansas branch of the clan would be worthy of a dual study, from Lawrence to Manhattan.

12:38:34 PM    comment []

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