- Special projects (requires login)
Like the rest of the world, we use Zoom in this class. We will use it for three main kinds of appointments.
Make sure that you have downloaded the latest version of the Zoom client (the software on your computer that connects you to a meeting). Also, log into a Zoom profile that is based on your USYD Unikey (and use the option of Single Sign-On when prompted). Do not use a personal Zoom profile to join class meetings.
For any regular meeting in this class, you should join it by first logging into Canvas, going to this class’s Canvas site, going to the Zoom page (linked in the nav column on the left), and choosing the meeting in the list of appointments. If you have a one-on-one meeting with a lecturer or tutor, you might get an invitation from them with a URL for the meeting, in which case you can use that.
Like the rest of the world, we have also all learned that there are good ways to Zoom and bad ways to Zoom. Zoom is a fascinating example of people fumbling toward a new set of implicit social norms. This is what Durkheimian anomie must feel like (Durkheim  2014, 277). Because it is so new for most people, and we are using it under novel conditions, it’s hard to come up with rules for how to use Zoom. Perhaps, then, the most important rule is to be sensitive to other people when you are online, and be willing to adjust when things aren’t working well.
In tutorials, tutors and students discuss rules they can adopt that will make the class work well and will make it a positive and productive experience for everyone. We can do this for Zoom too. It’s good to have metadiscussions—that is, discussions about discussions—in class. Zoom use is as important to discuss as respectful language and how to handle sensitive topics. Plus, Zoom provides a really great medium for metadiscussion: chat. When you think people’s Zoom use is interfering with the class, say so in the chat or email your tutor about it. When the conversation is not flowing well, say why you think that is in the chat, and say what can be done to improve it in the chat.
People have been talking a lot about “Zoom fatigue” lately. They have also been saying things like “Zoom fatigue is real.” OK, sure, it is. But what is it? Here’s my theory: Zoom fatigue is mental exhaustion that comes from trying to figure out what people mean. In Zoom, we are deprived of the typical media for creating a self-presentation, that is, signaling to other people what stance we are taking toward the situation, how we feel, and how we want other people to treat us.
Erving Goffman tells us that much of our social interaction consists of sending signals to other people about how things are going, and reading other people’s physical presence for signals about what they think is happening (Goffman 1967). Much like email and instant messaging, we lack signals about people’s mood and attitude on Zoom. In the last twenty years of email and chat, though, people have learned to use “lol”, “lmao” (and more importantly the difference between “lmao” and “lmaoooo” tbh). We have not developed similar ways to compensate for this lack on Zoom, and it’s especially frustrating because Zoom conferences mimic face-to-face conversations, but not perfectly. Personally, I find this quite frustrating, and when I get frustrated, I get fatigued.
Many teachers respond to this with rules. I don’t think that will solve the problem. For instance, I could say that “You have to turn you camera on when you are logged in.” No, but I think it should be OK to ask people to turn their cameras on, and it should be OK to discuss whether having cameras on helps the discussion go better.
One rule I think we should adopt, though, is a rule that we follow in the world of IRL: Be on time. When you have an appointment or a class meeting at 10 a.m., be logged in and join the meeting by 10:05 a.m. (the so-called “academic hour”) just like you would for a physical class meeting.
Durkheim, Emile. (1893) 2014. The Division of Labor in Society. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Goffman, Erving. 1967. “On Face-Work.” In Interaction Ritual: Essays in Face to Face Behavior, 1–46. New York: Doubleday.
Assignments: Qualitative analysis of a birth interview, Cultural contextualization of an observation about childhood, Assessing Mauss’s influence: An exercise in research skill, Constructive criticism of a colleague’s Mauss research, Critique of your own cultural assumptions, Lecture questions
Class info: Welcome to anthropology, What is anthropology, and why should we care?, What we will do in class, Attendance, timetables, lectures, tutorials, and the hybrid format of this class, Late work, special consideration, and no-disadvantage assessment, The keys to success in this class, How to Zoom to class, Types of scholarly writing, Writing an effective email, Formatting and software requirements for assignments