Are you there Internets? It’s me NAD*

*North American Dialogue; with apologies in advance for acronym abundance

Savage Minds welcomes guest blogger Lindsay A. Bell

I recently became the Associate Editor of North American Dialogue (NAD). Part of the AAA Wiley-Blackwell basket of goodies, NAD is the peer reviewed journal of the Society for the Anthropology of North America (SANA). I was brought on to help with the journal’s “brand issues”; namely its recent conversion to a peer reviewed publication and its history as being, um, well CUNY-centric. I am pretty excited about working with SANA on NAD. As a relatively recent section of the AAA, SANA has done much in the way of establishing anthropologies of North America as politically and theoretically important. As the incoming Associate Editor, I am hoping to pick your savage minds about publishing, social media and related issues. In particular, for those of you whose work is North American (and we mean that as broadly as possible), what would you like to see from this publication? From the digital gurus in the crowd, I want to hear about how or if social media should be used to draw a broader public to scholarly work?

The good news is the journal is open access and fully digital. With relatively low costs associated with publishing, we aren’t under the same pressure as other smaller sections/publications to prove our sustainability over the next few years. Even if we are not in jeopardy of foreclosure, for intellectual, political and financial reasons, we would love for NAD to be more widely read and cited.  Your musings on the matter are thus most welcome.

A bit of backstory on SANA may be useful for those unfamiliar with this section of the AAA. In 1990, a Society for the Anthropology of the United States and Canada (SAUSC) was founded. After the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was passed, the geographic limits of the section expanded to include Mexico. When the section formed, it was estimated that 50% of US anthropologists were working “at home”, yet the section’s founding members expressed that their work was often marginalized, under-funded and considered “too applied” to be of theoretical significance.

North American Dialogue was created as nascent section’s newsletter and was initially a forum for anthropologists both inside and outside of the academy to exchange ideas and focus the agenda for domestic research.  Flash-forward to the 2000s and the section has grown from 150 members to around 400 (small if you consider how many of us work on the continent). The newsletter moved to a peer-reviewed format in order for writers’ contributions to be acknowledged by their institutions and for their pieces to find wider readership.

In my first SM post, I don’t want to open the entire Future of Scholarly Publishing can of worms. I am too new to these debates to have a firm position. My ambitions for exchange are rooted in more immediate concerns. As we wade our way forward, we want to know more about ways of making social media do “more work” without making too much work for our mini editorial team (ok, there are two of us). After interrogating some of the good people over at Cultural Anthropology, it seems that social media can and does do a good job of directing traffic to their site and publication. They have a much broader reader base to draw from than NAD and a nicely organized editorial Intern Program to help with the labour of online additional content. We wonder what strategies might be particularly useful for smaller sections?

If you are reading this, the chances are high that you are pretty skilled with the Internets and may have some hot tips that I don’t. Our questions are basic, like: Should we bother with facebook/ twitter or should the articles “speak for themselves”? Do we “need” a website? Is the website the horse and social media the cart? Or is it the other way around? While I try and figure out how to best harness social media, you can follow NAD on twitter (@AnthroNAD) and “like” us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/SANAAnthro). You can read our most recent issue HERE.

Lindsay Bell a post doctoral fellow at Memorial University. Her research investigates the place of indigenous life and arctic environments in (inter)national public culture. She teaches ethnographic writing by way of anthropology and gender studies.

6 thoughts on “Are you there Internets? It’s me NAD*

  1. Reblogged this on Swift, like Shadows and commented:
    I’d be inclined to ask: what will you do with the online spaces you use to talk about your work? Social media is fine for getting the word out (Twitter’s useful for sharing links to things, FB can be useful for the same-plus-dialogue) BUT having too many social media outlets can become unwieldy, and there’s always the question of which public you want to engage. What do you want to do with your articles as far as social media goes? If the journal is open-access, then are you comfortable with engaging the lay public? All that said – having Twitter at least seems like a good way to get articles noticed and get Anthro Twitter sharing and talking about the work. I’m not as familiar with Anthro FB (although I do follow Savage Minds on there).

    I would approach a website the same way: what do you mean to do with the website? A blog is an updating website/’advert for the journal, and because a blog tends to be updated with some frequency, it’s a bit more labour-intensive. If you did a website, you might be duplicating efforts with the site the journal is hosted on already. A blog – could be interesting, if you do feature posts when a new journal issue comes out.

  2. Good questions SIS…
    There is what I want (long term) and what is feasible. For web based additional content, I like the idea of having spaces for photo essays and contributions that are more “of the moment”… but more content means more editorial work, so we are thinking now about getting our two issues a year out and then getting them noticed. That twitter will direct traffic is good to know… I mostly feel like I tweet to outer space. Good blogs/websites are good when they are good (CA has really doesn’t it in this department) but when they aren’t updated enough, or the content isn’t great then maybe they do more harm than good.

  3. First of all, thanks for supporting open scholarly publishing! I think your social strategy is already pretty good. My advice would be to find a way to publish each article on its own. I’m fairly certain individual pieces would get a lot more attention, especially if they appeared as HTML instead of PDFs, than the entire newsletter will get. There are various open source publishing packages that allow you to do this. I know HAU uses Open Journal Systems http://pkp.sfu.ca/ojs/ you might ask them about their experiences with that platform.

  4. I find when I’m tweeting, I tend to also tweet into the ether… but building up regular communication with people between issues or updates can definitely help with the audience!

  5. Thanks for going OA! I think that you really have to think about how much energy and time you have. Going to OJS is a good idea. But if that is too much time/energy, I’d suggest you think about how best to handle ‘alerting’ — letting people know that a new issue is out. This might be as simple as sending out emails to existing lists. Does SANA have an active email list at the moment? I think activating the network of people who work on this topic is the first step before you move into outreach for nonspecialists.

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