You know the phrase “informal economy?” That was Keith Hart’s idea. Hart exemplifies the Oxbridge lefty populist 60s development social anthropologist — you know the type. Throughout his career Hart has always had a personality and imagination that is a little too big for anthropology to hold. Luckily that is what the internet is for — his book “The Memory Bank”:http://www.thememorybank.co.uk/blog/simpleblog_view is now supplemented by a website which is literally “his memory bank”:http://www.thememorybank.co.uk/. I can’t think of another professor who received their Ph.D. four decades ago who have been so enthusiastic about embracing the Internet. Not only is his “book”:http://www.thememorybank.co.uk/book/ available online in more or less complete form, so are his papers, both “published”:http://www.thememorybank.co.uk/publications/ and “unpublished”:http://www.thememorybank.co.uk/publications/, his “stories and poems”:http://www.thememorybank.co.uk/stories/ and even links to “IMDB move reviews he’s writtten”:http://www.thememorybank.co.uk/journalism/.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the site is his “blog”:http://www.thememorybank.co.uk/blog/simpleblog_view. It isn’t actively maintained now, but even in its current form it’s sort of fascinating — some entries literally consist of “here’s what I wrote last night to replace the intro of chapter 2 of that new book I’m writing.” I started reading The Memory Bank when it first came out then managed to leave it on a plane. I remember it being intriguing and definitely a couple of standard deviations away from the run of the mill in a fascinating way. Although it was clear that Hart’s grasp of the Internet was different from that of someone who grew up with it, Hart’s take on it, like the rest of his career, cannot help but peak your interest.