Jason Jackson Gave Me Homework

On Friday, I managed to squeeze in a lunch with Jason Jackson, who is one of those people who is both erudite and productive as well as grounded and open. People like me who have fallen behind want to be able to pillory him, but I cannot. He’s that good. He has been amazingly successful and is already an associate professor at Indiana University, where he will shortly be chair of the Folklore Institute. (I know: it’s now the Department of Folkore and Ethnomusicology, but there really is something much nicer about *The Folklore Institute*.) Yes, he’s *that* guy, but also a good guy, and someone who has really thought a lot about the many institutional dimensions of the philological (or anthropological) project. His first step out the door was as a combination university professor / museum curator at the University of Oklahoma. Back at Indiana University, I think he made a clear, and concise, assessment that the ethnographic fields of anthropology, folklore studies, and ethnomusicology needed to examine and revise where necessary the institutional frameworks within which they work, not only in light of the emergent, and sometimes radical, shifts being brought about by the information technology revolution but also in view of the darkness that too often shrouds the humanities.

As always, he had a reading list for me, and I’ve set about surveying what he gave me:

* The [Public Knowledge Project][pkp] a multi-institutional project. It has developed open source software CMSes for managing/hosting journals and conferences as well as [Lemon8-XML][l8x], “a web-based application designed to make it easier for non-technical editors and authors to convert scholarly papers from typical word-processor editing formats such as MS-Word .DOC and OpenOffice .ODT, into XML-based publishing layout formats.”

* [Connexions][cnx] describes itself as “a place to view and share educational material made of small knowledge chunks called modules that can be organized as courses, books, reports, etc.” (See **note** below.)

* The [Open Anthropology Cooperative][oac] notes it “was launched on 28 May 2009 by a group of friends who met on Twitter before joining Ning. The most important word in our title is the first. Open access, open membership, open to sharing new ideas, open to whatever the organization might do or become; open to everyone, as in ‘open source’. We have already started many discussion groups, blogs, a forum and places to share a variety of ideas and materials. This is just the beginning: we expect to hold virtual conferences, to add podcasts, publish longer pieces online and incorporate a variety of social networking devices into our exchanges.” Those familiar with [Ning][nng] will recognize the interface, but certainly the goals of the OAC is most welcome, given, from my point of view, the rather walled garden that the American Anthropological Association otherwise maintains around its publications.

**Note**: *While browsing the journals currently using the Open Journal Software provided by the Public Knowledge project, I came across this interesting collection of journals organized under the umbrella of the [Open Humanities Press][ohp].

[pkp]: http://pkp.sfu.ca/
[cnx]: http://cnx.org/
[oac]: http://openanthcoop.ning.com/
[nng]: http://ning.com/
[l8x]: http://pkp.sfu.ca/lemon8
[ohp]: http://www.openhumanitiespress.org/

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