I’ve been working on updating the site over the past week, adding some new functionality and trying to fix some long-standing problems.
For some reason, since we launched the new site, our security software was preventing people from leaving comments. That should be fixed now. Sorry about that!
Also, we previously posted that people would have to register to leave comments. That is not the case. In fact, we’ve turned off the feature that let people register and deleted most of the new registrations from this week because we were getting hundreds of SPAM users registering for the site. You can use your WordPress.com, Facebook, or Twitter account to leave comments, or simply enter any valid email address. (We will monitor this policy and change it if needed.)
Please let us know if you are having any problems that are making it difficult for you to use the site. Right now we are focused on squashing critical bugs. If you have more general feedback (good or bad) about the design, feel free to leave that as well, but please note that we won’t be making any major revisions to the new design till this summer.
Since we launched Savage Minds in 2005 the only time there were ads on this site was the short time last year between when we moved to WordPress.com for hosting and when we paid to turn them off. We apologize for that. The fact is that most of us use ad-blocking software so we didn’t notice the ads until they were pointed out to us and then we promptly got rid of them. We don’t intend to put ads here, and — even though we all put in a lot of work (and money) behind the scenes to keep the site going — we aren’t asking for your support…
OK, enough with the “we.” Although this is a group site and we make all major decisions (including posting this request) together, this is very personal for me. For the past three months I’ve been working non-stop behind the scenes to move to a new server, restore the archives, and redesign the site. If you paid a professional to do this kind of work it would cost at least $2,000, and maybe as much as four times that. I did it because I care about this site. If you also value this site and the work that goes into it, I’d like to ask you to support an organization that is very important to me: Budhan Theatre.
Because our archives were lost to the internet for the past year a lot of great content has been offline. (Google is now slowly re-indexing all of it.) If you just started following Savage Minds recently and would like a quick overview of our best posts for the past seven years, please take a quick look at our annual highlights. These are our yearly end-of-the-year round-ups which highlight our best content from each year. We started doing these in 2006, so we don’t have one for our first year, 2005, but it’s otherwise pretty comprehensive. Enjoy!
Since 2005 over a
hundred and thirty sixty people have blogged on Savage Minds. (And another 44 have written “invited posts.”) We have email addresses for most of them, but not all, and some people may have changed their email address, so the easiest way I know to reach everyone is by posting this here. Hopefully they still read the site! (Everyone else feel free to ignore this post.)
As I mentioned at the beginning of the month, we are getting ready for some big changes around here. To ensure that everything goes smoothly, we will be taking the site offline sometime on Friday evening (Eastern Standard Time). If all goes well, the site should be back up early Saturday morning with the new layout and the restored archives in place. I’ll keep this post active as a place for you to post your reactions (good or bad) to the new site, as well as for catching any bugs in the code.
UPDATE: Welcome to the new/old site! It is new because we have a fresh new look, and it is old because all our archives going back to 2005 have been restored. We are still working on ironing out a few things here and there, so please let us know if anything is broken, not working, or not to your liking. And if you like the new site, please don’t hold back from sharing your praise!
Dick’s beat me to the punch — please join me in welcoming Dick Powis and Angela Chen as our new interns! Dick will be writing up our weekly roundups and Angela will be helping me with comments moderation.
When we put out a call for comment moderators, we expected a half-dozen entries. Instead we got two dozen — all great applicants, from many walks of life. In the end, reading all the apps and doing video interviews with the shortlist ate up so much of our (my) time that we ended up giving the top two people positions in the blog, rather than run a separate and equally time-consuming search for a second position. Apologies to people who were waiting for that second position to be advertised — we just had a choice of either writing for the blog or reading resumes, and decided on the former.
Please welcome our newcomers on board — I hope you will see them around more and more on the site as we continue to grow and expand in 2014.
Three big announcements…
Founded in 2005, Savage Minds is now nine years old. Our current design is a default WordPress template I used when our original (more colorful) theme somehow got corrupted, preventing Google from indexing our site. Then our site went down again about a year ago when our hosting company decided it didn’t want to honor a promise made by a smaller company it had bought-out. This was a terrible crisis for us as we somehow hadn’t backed up the site in years, falsely believing that our host was keeping adequate backups on our behalf. Unsure of what to do next, we threw this temporary site up on WordPress.com, using the same generic template we’d been using before. Now all that is about to change, and a number of other things as well.
After a couple years of running the anthropologies project and writing for Savage Minds, I have decided to combine my online energies. Anthropologies is moving to Savage Minds! The core idea of the project is going to stay the same, but the way it works is going to change a bit. Instead of publishing collections of essays all at once in journal-esque format, the new anthropologies here on Savage Minds will entail a series of themed, invited posts over a 1-2 month period. At the end of the series I will publish the collection in either E-pub or PDF format to make things nice and accessible. I think it’s going to work out very well.
All upcoming issues will be announced in advance to encourage as much participation as possible. If you have any comments or ideas, please feel free to email me at ethnografix at gmail dot com. Suggestions and ideas are always welcome.
The first Savage Minds/anthropologies issue will focus on the pressing, depressing, and ever-worsening subject of student debt. It’s an issue that affects far too many people, and it needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. I wrote about student debt here on Savage Minds a while back–at the end of the post I mentioned the idea of marshaling anthropology to start finding some answers. That’s what this issue is all about: bringing anthropology to bear on a subject that hits close to home for a lot of people trying to slog their way through grad school, recent graduation, adjunct-hood, and the horrible job market. Several contributors are already lined up, and the first installment of the series will be online soon! In anticipation of the student debt issue, check out this must read article on the Chronicle of Higher Ed by Audrey Williams June (published today), which mentions the PhD Debt Survey that Karen Kelsky started just a few days ago (it already has more than a thousand anonymous responses). Also check out Rebecca Schuman’s related piece on Slate. Those two articles will be a good prep for taking on–and hopefully pushing back against–the entrenched problem of student debt.
*Upcoming themes include: The politics of global warming and environmentalism; Aging; The uses and abuses of “culture”; An anthropology of the stuff we eat. And more! This series is open to suggestions, participation, and ideas, so please feel free to post your comments here or email me (email@example.com).
Savage Minds is currently seeking a volunteer to join our crew to help Rex with community outreach. This internship (if that’s not too fancy a name for it) will run from late January to early May, with a possibility of extension. Duties may include: comment moderation, interview transcription, handling correspondence with publishers, and posting on social media such as facebook and twitter.
SM plans to provide mentoring and training to our volunteers, which will may also include readings (on for instance, comment moderation, best practices for transcription, etc.) We expect this job to take 3-10 hours a week, depending on how interested you are and how busy we become. I’d really like to use it to go beyond comment moderation to expand what we are doing to include more interviews, podcasts, syllabi collections, and other things that we just don’t have the cycles for at the moment.
No one at Savage Minds is paid to work on the site, so you won’t be either. At the end of the internship, however, we will be willing to provide a letter of recommendation for job or grant applications. If you hit it off well with us, then there is also the possibility of joining us as a blogger.
We imagine these positions will appeal to a graduate student or aspiring undergraduate anthropology major. However, pretty much any one can apply if they want to.
Savage Minds is strongly committed to increasing the diversity of our Minds, and we are particularly interested in receiving applications from people who are not White Men.
We will soon post another call for volunteers for a position to work with Matt Thompson. You can apply for both positions if you like.
Send a CV, contact details of three personal references, and a short (no more than a page) bio describing who you are and why you’d be good for the job to firstname.lastname@example.org. The application deadline is next Friday, January 17th.
Good morning everyone. As promised, I’ve changed the discussion settings on our blog. Everyone who wants to post comments will now have to register with the site (you can do this with preexisting credentials, such as twitter or WP). Pseudonyms are fine. All comments will now be manually approved by me (or, in the future, an intern) before they appear on the site, and they must follow our existing comment policy (which you can find in the header of our site). I expect 90% of the comments submitted will be approved, but please be patient if it takes a little bit — especially if you post during the Hawai‘ian evening. If I feel your comments are in violation of our comment policy, I will do my best to send them back to you to explain how they don’t meet it. That way you can resubmit and have your comments appear. Thanks for your patience, everyone.
Happy 2014 everyone! We have a number of improvements and expansions planned for Savage Minds that we’ll roll out as the year goes forward. Today I’m announcing the first one: we will be revamping the comments policy on our site.
For years we’ve felt that the comments section of the blog were, well, toxic is pretty much the word that comes to mind. We never really had a solution to this problem because different Minds had different senses of how severe the problem was, and because solutions took cycles that most of us didn’t have. This semester, however, I am finally taking the plunge and am dedicating myself full-time to moderating all comments.
My goal is to create a vibrant, civil, inclusive space where genuine discussion about anthropology can occur, and where anyone — professor, grad student, or random passer-by — can participate. Creating this community has always been central to our vision of the blog, but had fallen by the wayside. We’re bringing it back.
In the next week I’ll be announcing a new comment policy. We’re still working out the kinks, but essentially, I will personally be moderating all SM posts. Every commentor will have to register with our site, and all comments will be moderated by me before they are posted. I am also planning to ask for a volunteer/intern to work with me on comment moderation, as well as other aspects of the site. There’ll be endless thanks (and a letter of recommendation) for the person who comes on board to help.
I’ll be posting more of this soon. If you want to provide comments about the new comment policy before it comes into effect, now’s your chance.
As many of you know, our blog title comes from Lévi-Strauss’s book Pensée Sauvage, translated in English as The Savage Mind, but which is a pun on the French word for “wild pansies” (viola tricolor). We are now working on a redesign of our website and I’ve been spending a lot of my time searching Google for good images of wild pansies that we could use for our banner.
The image on the blog sidebar right now is the one that was on the cover of Lévi-Strauss’s book. It is by Pierre-Joseph Redouté. Unfortunately, it seems impossible to find high-resolution scans of this image in the public-domain. I have found some other botanical illustrations that I like, but was still looking when I discovered the work of Count Franz Pocci, who painted this delightful painting, which I just had to share with everyone:
Anthropologists like to say that we cover the whole world, the entirety of human experience in all places and times. But that doesn’t always translate into global conversations about anthropology and its findings. Questions of access to published research often get in the way, as do language barriers. As we close 2013, we take an inside look at who is reading Savage Minds—this U.S.-based, English-language group anthropology blog.
Our #1 audience is in the U.S.A. While this is no surprise, the global list of readers does include some surprises, and offers a particularly situated view into who is reading anthropology around the world—from Argentina (#35 on our list) to Zambia (#113). Continue reading
Since restoring the old site was taking so long, we took the plunge and paid WordPress.com the $100 to be able to use our old domain here, it also gets rid of the ads which were bothering us. (We’ve always been ad-free.) We still haven’t been able to restore our old posts, and we are still working on moving the site to our own self-hosted account, but all that will take much longer than we thought. Till then, we didn’t feel it was necessary to constantly advertise that this was a temporary site. If you have any problems using the site as a result of the changes, please let us know.