list anthropology II

i’ve been citing ross williams’ 2002 unpublished conference paper on shaming in email in a couple of my own papers – there’s not much in my area on this topic, so it looks as if i’m going to have to look into journals of psychology in order to get reports of any studies done in the area of group solidarity, and interpersonal alignment and positioning in the context of online groups.

i’ve asked ross whether i can post it here as a link for any others to follow up. whereas i’d have placed it in the list anthro resources page previously, it looks as if this has been moved down a rank to post-only status – hence i am announcing the link here: “The dynamics of shaming in an email discussion group”.
it’s in PDF form and is quite short so will download onto your desktop fairly quickly. members of netdynam in february 2002 will no doubt recall the discussion that the paper engendered at that time.

a short excerpt follows:

‘We are deeply sensitised to the occasions of shame, for ourselves and others, and the rules of etiquette and face-saving work to preserve our social systems against the disruptive effects of shame when the gap between embodied and ideal selves threatens to be revealed inadvertently. Conversely, the threat to reveal this gap and subject the other to shame is a powerful tool in expert hands; and we are all experts.

Threats to the public face can arise so swiftly and be handled so automatically that they pass in a moment, almost unnoticed, and only a careful record of gestures, glances, phrasing and vocal inflections allows us to interpret an interaction as an instance of social control based on shaming. In this paper I will analyse a shaming
interaction in an e-mail group, partly because it is inherently interesting to discover familiar group processes in a novel setting, and partly because the text medium of the email group is so congenial to the hermeneutic endeavour; generating an interpretable text from a face-to-face group is intensely laborious and subject to serious error and omissions, even when one has the best audio-visual equipment available. With email, the work is done for you.’

here’s a link to the previous list anthropology post for further context on netdynam the list.

relative affordances of blog v list: boundaries again

I’m a member of two other mailing lists which both address the same academic topics: SysFunc and SysFling. One is based in Sydney and was conceived of as being a more local venue for announcing Sydney and even Australia-based meetings, conferences, articles and so on, as well as for fielding the usual questions regarding the analysis of curly clauses. The other is based in Europe and is said to be more formal in its approach to similar concerns for systemicists. However, it is probably fair to say that most subscribers belong to both lists, and that most threads if they get going, get CCed to both lists, thus providing for a lot of overlapping.

Occasionally the beginnings of discussions are limited to one list, and then someone posts a CC to the other list as well. Those who are not members of both lists begin to wonder what is going on, but, as I say, these people are in the minority anyway.

After a recent spate of twin list activity, one of the moderators and keepers of one of these two lists, commented that amalgamation might not be a bad idea – especially in view of the fact that he was hoping to retire from list maintenance activities at the end of the year. Thereafter a slew of posts were made approving of the amalgamation – to the extent that a cry went up to the effect that perhaps any further messages on the topic be limited to those who were nay, rather than yea-sayers on the matter. A short period of silence thereafter seemed to suggest that the vote might be carried unanimously until one lone voice spoke up in favour of keeping both lists – aka nay-saying – providing affiliatory and affinity-related reasons for doing so. In other words, he cited boundary issues of the sub-grouping kind, arguing that each list has evolved their own separate identities. Thereafter, another one or two more timid types also ventured to add their nay against the groundswell of yea-sayers – but no doubt to little avail.

Read the rest of this entry »

Emails Archives In the Open Source

Controversy has surrounded intimations that U.S. interrogators had availed themselves of psychological research about how extreme techniques of interrogation might be withstood. The research was, in effect, reverse engineered for the opposite purpose. [Timeline] Because U.S> psychologists are members of The American Psychological Association (APA) and the APA has a code of ethics, when the intimations evolved to become probable suspicions about, at least, military psychologists breaking the code of ethics to ’cause harm,’ the APA became embroiled in a huge scandal.

Now and then I’ve checked into this story. On May 8th, a large chunk of emails were leaked. The emails reflect part of the archive of an internal APA task force, (Task Force on Psychological Ethics and National Security; PEN). [APA FAQ on interrogation]

The task force’s work, soon to be framed by the inadequacy of a 2006 resolution, led up to:

In September 2008, APA’s members passed a resolution stating that psychologists may not work in settings where “persons are held outside of, or in violation of, either International Law (e.g., the UN Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Conventions) or the U.S. Constitution (where appropriate), unless they are working directly for the persons being detained or for an independent third party working to protect human rights.” The resolution became official APA policy in February 2009. (Wikipedia)

However, between 2005-2008 the APA was embroiled in controversy, much of it having to do with the constituency of professional psychologists who have vested (and lucrative) interests in defense and security affairs. This led to lots of political maneuvering vis a vis the leadership of the APA>

On May 9th, the email archive from May 2005-2006 of the task force was leaked.

Ahhhh. This is of interest with respect to Netdynam’s portfolio. The first substantial email is on page 7 of the leaked compendium. On page 15, Olivia Morehead-Slaughter writes:

1) Who is the client? 2)To whom do we have ethical obligations? It is notable that the answers to these 2 questions may not be the same.

And, as the saying goes, they’re off to the races.

For Netdynam a good case about the circumstances for re-deployment of archives.

Sage Advice

Springtime, when. . .Sage allows free access to its entire stable of journals. What have those tireless publish-or-perishers come up with about Merleau-Ponty since the last free trial? Etc..

As someone who has previously registered for a trial of an online journal published by SAGE, we wanted to let you know about our current free access period on SAGE Journals Online. You can now register for free online access to more than 500 SAGE journals with content available from 1999-current until April 30, 2009!

The SAGE Journals Online platform provides users access to one of the largest and most powerful collections of business, humanities, social sciences, and science, technical, and medical content in the world. SAGE is also the world’s leading publisher of research methods and during the trial you will be able to search more than 25 research methods journals–from qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods to evaluation.


On the email tip, several hits at Sage.

Semiotic resourcefulness: A young child’s email exchange as design

Journal of Early Childhood Literacy 2007; 7; 155 Diane Mavers

Abstract Children’s resourcefulness can be seen in their ordinary, everyday ‘semiotic work’ as they select resources from those ready to hand to create play environments and artefacts. Is this resourcefulness also evident as they make meaning in the highly conventionalized mode of writing? Conceptualizing writing as a process of design opens up the possibility for understanding meaning-making beyond the linguistic. In a spontaneously initiated email exchange with her uncle, a six-year-old child demonstrated semiotic resourcefulness as she made meaning in a variety of ways: by selecting and combining particular lexical and syntactic choices, but also in her deployment of other semiotic resources such as spacing, punctuation and spelling. The un-school-likeness of this young child’s domestic literacy implies agency and initiative as she designed writing apt to the social context, and demonstrated her literate capacities in the here and now.


The dark side of information: overload, anxiety and other paradoxes and pathologies

Journal of Information Science 2009; 35; 180 David Bawden and Lyn Robinson 

Abstract. This review article identifies and discusses some of main issues and potential problems – paradoxes and pathologies – around the communication of recorded information, and points to some possible solutions. The article considers the changing contexts of information communication, with some caveats about the identification of ‘pathologies of information’, and analyses the changes over time in the way in which issues of the quantity and quality of information available have been regarded. Two main classes of problems and issues are discussed. The first comprises issues relating to the quantity and diversity of information available: information overload, information anxiety, etc. The second comprises issues relating to the changing information environment with the advent of Web 2.0: loss of identity and authority, emphasis on micro-chunking and shallow novelty, and the impermanence of information. A final section proposes some means of solution of problems and of improvements to the situation. Keywords: information overload; information anxiety; digital literacy; paradox of choice; satisficing; web 2.0


Group dynamic processes in email groups

Active Learning in Higher Education 2005; 6; 7  Esat Alpay

ABSTRACT Discussion is given on the relevance of group dynamic processes in promoting decision-making in email discussion groups. General theories on social facilitation and social loafing are considered in the context of email groups, as well as the applicability of psychodynamic and interaction-based models. It is argued that such theories may indeed provide insight into email group interactions, but that communication limitations may severely hinder the effectiveness, and possibly the natural evolution, of email-based groups. Based on the various theoretical perspectives on group dynamics, some general recommendations are provided on promoting effective email groups, which include the set-up of communication and decision protocols, the cogent use of a group facilitator, and where possible, the supplementary use of face-to-face interactions.


This great resource should be available at your academic library too. Twist the librarian’s arm should it not be.

Email Decision Tree


click to see large version

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