Researchers in the humanities use websites in various ways. Giving access to our publications is trivial but essential. Anthropologists in particular often get to write in books or journals which are unavailable in the countries where their research fields are. So for example my book about Roma musicians in Romania can’t be bought in Romania. Offering free downloads to our publications solves such absurd situations (you can download my book here).

Secondly, when your work relies on the analyses of audio and video documents — quite a common thing in ethnomusicology — you may wish to join the latter to your text. However, most paper editors are reluctant to add a CD or DVD, and even online journals are mostly unprepared when it comes to streaming multimedia content. It’s a pity  that many ethnomusicologists still have to write without any sound examples to support and illustrate their analysis. Music and video footages can be found in abundance on youtube & co. They come from many places in the world. It is all the more important that anthropologists use Internet in a creative way to present their own analysis based on their own materials. 

Thirdly, websites can be fantastic tools to enhance cooperation in an institution or a project team. Researchers in humanities, don’t share much infrastructure: a library, a conference room, a coffee machine… that’s about it. Compare with the equipment of biologists, astronomers, physicians. They have to share the same working space. We don’t. And when it comes to research topics, a team of anthropologists tends to resemble a herd of cats. This is good as it conveys freedom. But if a bit of structure is needed, a collaborative website can be a good idea. If members can announce publications and forthcoming talks, post and share field media, appear in professional directories and so on — and if they do it all themselves — then the site usually conveys some sense of order and collaboration, not only for the outside world but also for the team members themselves. In other words, collaborative websites are good at herding cats.

I started doing websites for my own needs in the late 1990s. Then I helped colleagues, team projects and NGOs to build and/or administer various kinds of web projects. I learned a few things that way. Nowadays there exist research networks like which offer great tools to fulfil the needs outlined above and more. Even facebook and co. can be useful for researchers. However, I have an account on neither of these. I guess I’m getting old. Or too busy. Or still clinging to ideas about anarchy, freedom, do-it-yourself and help-each-other. Anyway, here are some web projects I worked on. They appear in reverse chronological order, with a few notes on the rationale I followed and the techniques I used.