Author Archives: Jennifer Cool

My anthropological research focuses on the production of new genres, forms, and social imaginaries of networked media in the US. See, for example, http://cool.org/chapterguide/

Knowledge Transfer, Transparency, IT: An Infrastructure Report from Co-Chairland

"Does CASTAC still serve a purpose?" "Should it continue?" This was the discussion at the first CASTAC meeting I attended at the 2006 AAAs in San Jose. It was like coming upon a cadre of fascinating people who share your intellectual proclivities only to hear tell of how this had been a most excellent and renown party—a veritable Cambrian explosion of Anthro-STS—but that was back before you got here, and there was beer. (more…)

2013 Diana Forsythe Prize Winner: Heather Paxson for The Life of Cheese

From Marcia Inhorn, Chair, 2013 Forsythe Prize Committee The Society for the Anthropology of Work (SAW) and the Committee on the Anthropology of Science, Technology, and Computing (CASTAC), a committee of the General Anthropology Division (GAD), announce Heather Paxson as the winner of the 2013 Diana Forsythe Prize for her book, The Life of Cheese: Crafting Food and Value in America (University of California Press, 2012) Paxson's book is a true exemplar of an award made “in the spirit of Diana Forsythe’s feminist anthropological research on work, science and/or technology, including biomedicine.” The Life of Cheese is a stunning ethnographic foray into the emergence of the artisanal cheese-making movement in America, based on in-depth ethnography in three states (Vermont, Wisconsin, and California). It shows clearly how craft cheese-making has always been a part of Swiss and German immigrant food histories in the US, but how the 1960s emergence of an (more...)

DIY and the Future of Photojournalism (mini-CFP)

Two weeks ago, I answered a CFP from the Incoming Editor of Anthropology Now, Maria Vesperi, seeking short responses to a news story about the recent lay-off of photojournalists at the Chicago Sun Times. My piece, The Dark Side of DIY in Photojournalism and Photographic Ethnography came out this week. In keeping with the CFP, I wrote the piece from the perspective of visual anthropology but the issues surrounding the Sun Times decision to eliminate their entire photojournalism staff are ones that will be familiar to CASTAC colleagues working in computing and new media. The role of computing in the changing character of work in post-industrial economies has been a focus in social research on information technology at least since Shoshana Zuboff’s classic: In the Age of the Smart Machine (1989). While deskilling, downsizing, automating, and “info-mating” were central to this earlier literature, these themes figure less prominently in more (more...)

Teaching with Warez: Korsakow and the Database Documentary

For the last three years, I have used Korsakow, an open-source application for making database films (K-films) and other types of non-linear, interactive narrative, in classes with both undergraduate digital art students and graduate students in visual anthropology. I expect visual anthropologists will have the most interest, but these reflections also have broader relevance to the anthropology of technology and computing. I heard about Korsakow in Jan or Feb 2010 from Steve Anderson at USC’s Institute for Multimedia Literacy. At that time I was teaching video production in a newly launched MA program in visual anthropology at USC and was also a lecturer in Studio Art at UC Irvine where I taught visual culture and the foundation series in digital art. In spring 2010, I got assigned a class I hadn’t taught before, “Interdisciplinary Digital,” an intermediate projects course focused on the art-making affordances, imaginaries, and practices of networked, digital (more...)