The following are some sample comments people have sent which either ask questions I think are valuable or comment on the use value of a webiste like this. I don't provide a response to each comment here but I have commented on a few of them. I have cut out all the names just in case the commenters would prefer to remain anonymous to wider web world (though I have not received a single anonymous comment). Should anyone want their name to appear then I will certainly include it.

%X I enjoyed going through your site. It is an excellent idea to share
your ongoing research. I am a non-anthropologist with an interest in
anthropological study. In April I will be suggesting to grass-roots
social workers and their supervisors that they engage in systematic
observation of the people they work with. I would like to share your
web-site materials with them as an example of the kind of thing I have
in mind. Could I have your permission to do so? It would be of immense
help to me.

%X Hello Steve, Just having a look through your site and am interested
in what you are doing, especially the internet side of things,for
example how good are your connections and are you in daily contact with
someone in Canterbury, and if so how does this influence your
activity/objectivity in Pakistan? Looking through the titles the
arguments about money sound interesting and the day of hurt feelings I
would like to read more of. Glad that this site is easy to get about
and not full of irritating cosmetics. What reactions do you have from
people there about your use of the internet/computers?


Connections are like connections in Europe. Sometimes great-- good and speedy with no problems. Sometimes they suck. I have noticed that connections are better from the village than from Islamabad. I presume this is because the phones were more recently installed in the village and some areas of Islamabad are working on very old phone lines that desparately need upgrading. 11:00 - 12:30 at night is an almost impossible time to get through to my isp. Since discovering that internet chat is very popular here I have concluded that this is the 'chat time' and so everyone is trying to get online then.


%X Dear Sir, I am a second year graduate student in Anthropology at
Syracuse University. I am from India and wish to work on women's health
issues in south India. I came acroos your website last week and found
it interesting that you had your field notes on the web. I teach an
introductory course in anthropology called 'Peoples and Cultures of the
world'. As part of the course, the students work on a small ethnography
project. In this regard, I thought it would be very helpful for them
(and also, for me personally) if they could access your field notes. I
would really appreciate if you could let me know how to get a password.
Thanks very much.

%X Hi, I find your site quite interesting. I have not been in the
discipline for 8 years or so(in fact I was accepted at Canterbury back
in 91 but couldn't get any funding!) and am thinking of applying to
afew schools for the year 2000. I'm a chef by trade these days and
have found a natural path it seems to be looking at food and
anthropology. I guess my question to you is do you have any suggestions
of how I could organize myself this summer while I'm at a camp trying
to do some kind of study basically concerning food patterns when it
comes to anthropological software for fieldwork?

I've sent suggestions directly to him but basicly my suggestion was to get in touch with the people at Kent as they are usually very open to people who express an interest.


%X Dear Mr. Lyon, Bravo, ultimately someone has thought of researching
Punjabi community among the foreigners. I like as well as appreciate
your selection of area and the topic. Being punjabi I would like to
help you in the interpretation of local concepts in their context. I
just went through your weekly report of April 7-14. I enjoyed your last
paragraph. I would like to clarify the concept of sufi (mystics) and
difference between pir. Cultural importance and its social significance
of this institution varies from area to area and community to
community. I am anthropologist by profession, working in the field of
community development. I have been involved in community mobilisation
activities since 1982,just after my secondary school certificate. I
would be in Pakistan uptil first week of May 99. I am going to
Netherlands and on my return may be I will stop at University of Kent,
Sussex and Nottingham. Nice to be in contact in future. I am sorry I
got your contact very late. TAke care, and best wishes,

I appreciate this comment for several reasons. I like the fact that a Punjabi anthropologist is taking an interest in my website and has taken the time to point out an important point. Regardless of whether I decide I agree or disagree it causes me to reflect on this point. What is the difference between sufis and pirs? I admit that I probably have a tendency to conflate the two and this comment makes me be a little clearer to myself what each term refers to.


%X Dear Mr Lyon, I think this is a brilliant idea what you're doing. I
am currently in first year studying anthropology. I realise there are
always ethical problems when carrying out fieldwork. I was wondering
what type of problems you face as an observer. If you have the time I
would really appreciate your comments. Thank you

Ethical problems there are no shortage of. Mostly I find a golden rule of thumb guides me. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Since I am far more guarded and reserved about my privacy than the people I'm working with I hope I do try to protect them from too much invasion. Certainly I have not knowlingly put anything up on the website that I knew someone would not want there. Even the negative things I've written have been approved. What villagers object to is if they think something is a contradiction of fact. They don't seem to object to facts they acknowledge but make them look bad. What I have completely avoided publishing are very personal details about some family squabbles and rumours of loose character for some women. These things need to be removed from context since for anthropological analysis what matters is that these things occur-- it isn't important to name who they occurred to.


%X I admire your ability to produce for the web
while in the field and I'm going to add your site to my online Asian
Studies course---and also recommend it to the advanced students in my
field methods course. Would it be possible to get the password that
allows access to your fieldnotes?

I just want to give credit where credit is due. I get a lot of IT support from Dr. Michael Fischer at CSAC at the University of Kent. I have also found the people at Comsats in Islamabad (my isp) to be exceptionally patient. I admit to being very impatient when I have connection problems and so the poor people at Comsats have had to put up with a few sarcastic emails and few urgent telephone calls. So my apologies to the people at Comsats-- they really have done a good job both at solving my problems and calming me down.


%X I just thought I'd tell you that this idea for an open thesis is
really cool- that's
exactly what i would like to do - just as soon as I work out how to use
a computer, or an email account more complicated than hotmail. Anyway
I think its realy great, and there should be more of it (and less
people in anthropology whose sole aim is to rip to shreds the work of
others - and less postmodernism - and less on Colonial Williamsberg.
Best of luck!

What can I say? This is a comment that I think has a good point-- my favourite anthropology to read is the stuff that just gets on with it and discusses a group of people. Maybe I'll never push the limits of the discipline but I'll try and write the kind of anthropology I like to read.


%X Hello Stephen: I just looked at your research in the web and I am
interested in what you are doing, especially on the use of technology
and fieldnote taking. I am preparing my own research proposal with a
qualitative approach. I will explore the process of rural tourism
development in two Basque valleys both sides of the border. I am native
of one of the valleys. My problem is that I want to be as organized as
possible before going home and starting the research and I want to use
and learn how to use the incredible technological resources. I would
appreciate very much if you could provide me with a password to see how
you organized your fieldnotes, to have a feel about what you are doing.
I am also concern about your sampling, how and when you decide
something deserves a fieldnote, aren't you afraid of missing something?
Another question that I would to ask you is about the emic/etic
perspective, do you think it makes a different being a native or non
and in what respect? Another comment is a rather neg

A useful comment. Of course I'm afraid of missing things. I do miss things and sometimes I know I'm missing it but I'm just too tired or too cranky or too something to care at that moment. Sometimes I tell myself I'll note that down later and a few weeks later I wonder whether I ever got round to noting whatever it was. There are times when I think about having a setup like in the film 'The Truman Show' and have hidden cameras following me around capturing everything people do around me. Then at other times I just want to forget about documenting anything at all and I want to just live here like a normal person.

The emic/etic thing is different-- what has significance to indigenous informants and what can be measured, evaluated by the external observer is not something I see as being more problemtised by using the internet or the web to disseminate info.


%X Greetings from Bucharest! I've just discovered your open ethnography
experiment. Having come back from fairly low-tech (and very hot)
fieldwork in Borneo last year, I was wondering what kind of soft and
hardware you're using for your notes. Have enjoyed reading your latest
update. I think it's a remarkable experiment, and it raises all kinds
of questions about feedback, privacy, authorship, etc. Good luck!

It does raise questions about feedback, privacy and authorship. The feedback question seems to me to be only really important at my stage-- since the PhD thesis is supposed to be a significant single authored work then how does my having so much input into the field work process impact on it's single author status? I suspect that I am not the first post grad who's gotten a lot of input but I've made it fairly public. Authorship of the website on the other hand I'm not worried about. They are a part of the website. They don't like to write things for me very much (it's not their job and I do understand that) but they comment on the website and their comments get reflected in what goes up next. So I do think of it as somewhat collaberative, but recognise that I am the ultimate controller so it's not an equal collaberation.

Software and hardware is something several people have asked about. I use a Macintosh Powerbook G3. It is fast enough to process video and stable enough not to crash every other day and lose all my data for me. I back up all data every 2 or 3 weeks on magneto optical disk. My field notes are kept in a FrameMaker structured document. I worked with Dr. Michael Fischer prior to leaving England to prepare the Element Definitions for the structured document to where I could include the content codes into the field notes. For processing of still images I use Adobe Photoshop. For video I use Adobe Premier. For sound I use either Adobe Premier or MoviePlayer (I admit I don't do a very good job on these so perhaps I am not using the best software for this). To prepare the video and sound for the web I use Media Cleaner. This is all proprietary software unfortunately so it isn't cheap. One of my fellow postgrads at UKC, Sukaina Bharwani, and I worked together on a java application to simulate agricultural production. I have mostly abandoned this since coming here but I hope she's kept up the hard work and will make use of that when I return (with her permission of course).