An Ethnographic Inventory
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By Tomás Sánchez Criado & Adolfo Estalella

xcol is an open-source platform for collaborative inventorying: meaning that anyone is free to use its contents. But also that anyone interested could join and contribute to the repository. How to collaborate with xcol inventory? Two ways are mainly envisioned: as an individual and as a team/institution.

How to contribute individually

1) Become a xcolar!

The contributors filling this platform with content are – in the language of this site – xcolars: Those interested in collaboratively documenting and caring for ethnographic invention. Besides being a platform for the documentation of inventiveness, xcol is also an inventory of xcolars. Becoming a xcolar is easy: Get in touch!

2) Inventory your inventiveness and that of others (past and present)!

How to approach this? The main task of the xcolar in this platform is inventorying ethnography’s inventiveness. Hence, when turning into one you should be able to create the conditions for others to appreciate ethnographic inventions, be they from your own work or those of colleagues. And, also relevant, they can be from historical examples you might dim important or interesting to re-narrate from the angle that this platform offers: that is, as relational inventions produced in the field by anthropologists and their companions (field devices), pedagogical methodologies and venues for the apprenticeship of ethnography (open formats), interventions towards the inside of the discipline of anthropology drawing inspiration from our fields of study (intraventions) and material experiments in anthropological practice at the hinges of the ethnographic (prototypes).

Any xcolar could also contribute (1) writing or collecting programmatic essays, longer reflections and other contributions addressing different aspects of ethnographic inventiveness that we call xpositions; (2) developing thematic collections gathering different elements of the inventory that we call inquiries; or (3) creating relevant terms and concepts to describe and navigate the task of inventorying in our glossary.

3) Take care of sources

One of the most important aspects for this open source inventory is to take care of inventiveness. Sometimes your work as xcolar will be an original piece of documentation. Some other times it would require you to appreciate and document the inventiveness of others. Since the task of inventing is a collaborative and distributed one, taking care of sources is paramount: Although this is an open-source endeavour, attribution is crucial. Hence, do not forget to include a hyperlink and/or a full academic reference when adding up elements to the inventory!

How to contribute in teams or institutionally

1) Take part in or organise an ‘inventathon!

The work of online communities like Wikipedia or OpenSourceMaps is a great inspiration for the kind of open-source and collaborative work that we wish to unfold at the xcol inventory. In the practices of these communities it has become crucial to gather together to develop and fill the platforms with content in events called ‘editathons‘: “an event where editors of online communities…edit and improve a specific topic or type of content.”

For xcol inventory this is a crucial area of collaboration, with xcolars celebrating and taking care of ethnographic invention by gathering in what we call inventathons: more or less thematic workshops where different areas of ethnographic invention are collectively explored and inventoried, developing new areas and domains within the platform.

We would like to encourage xcolars to organise and invite others to take part in inventathons. To access future and past inventathons, go to the the events (under construction) section.

2) Become an institutional partner of xcol inventory

Given the fact that ethnographic invention has seldom been valued and is many times remaining in the background of ethnographers practices we believe that the work of xcol inventory would benefit from institutional partners – museums and art centres, academic societies, departments and institutes, MA or PhD programmes, research groups, cultural associations and non-profits or collectives of study – granting legitimacy and expanding the project.

If wanting to back and support xcol inventory at an institutional level, please get in touch to explore options.