For the last few semesters, I have taught a course on “ethnographic methods” to designers in an MFA program. The class itself is my own design but the title was gifted to me. I can’t say that I approve of the term “ethnographic methods,” but one has to go along at times. In the main, it is every bit as fun as it sounds. I demand students delineate and pursue their own projects, rather than safely shepherding them through a series of artificial exercises.…
Category: Blogs by Michael
Researching Around the Surveillance State
Last month in the New York Review of Books, historian Natalie Zemon Davis wrote a short essay about her experience with the FBI in late 1952. Upon returning from France, where she was conducting archive research for her PhD thesis, this happened:
Not long after my return, two gentlemen from the US State Department arrived at our apartment to pick up my passport and that of my husband. A publication event had brought them to our door.
To Disrupt or Preserve The University
Lately there has been a lot of heat around the idea of disrupting higher education. In fact, the search phrase “disrupting higher education” currently yields almost 2 million results via Google.
Like everything else disrupted in the recent past, the impetus here is the application of digital technology to a new domain in order to lower costs and increase efficiency. This HASTAC article has a nice breakdown of the current state of play in higher education.…
Call For Papers: AAA 2014
CFP AAA 2014: Producing Anthropology, Producing Science: Citizen Science and Emerging Problematics
Many of the challenges facing anthropology today have their parallels in the emerging citizen science sphere. Anthropologists have long conceptualized, and re-conceptualized, the permeable boundaries of knowledge production, but new challenges emergent within citizen science mark a changing landscape where new forms of knowledge production and dissemination are reworking scientific boundaries long considered stable. Professional scientists are addressing new audiences in new contexts, including in new economies of knowledge production, moving beyond binary distinctions between internal and external discourses, and engaging new modes (open access) and media (online scholarly publishing, blogging, and micro-blogging) to disseminate knowledge.…
Happy #anthrovalentineS Day
I will leave it to the historians of wikipedia to sort out the history of Valentine’s Day. And I will leave the critique to the Huffington Post .
Today I want to publicly thank @DonnaLanclos , an anthropologist who works in a library, for storifying the results of the twitter hashtag #anthrovalentines .
My favorite tweet, and a savvy nod to the intersection of public and private interest in fieldwork, is this one:
@EthnoGraffiti I would do anything for love, but I won’t do multi-sited ethnography #anthrovalentines
And thank you everyone who contributed to the hashtag.…
Gates On Diamond
2013 was a year marked by yet another Jared Diamond book and yet another round of anthropological hand-wringing over Jared Diamond’s public profile. I won’t launch into a criticism of Diamond. Instead, I will sum up the year of Jared Diamond with the following Bill Gates takeaway:
He (Diamond) describes several areas in particular, like raising children, dealing with the elderly, and eating well. He doesn’t romanticize these societies, as I thought he might, or make some grand pronouncement that they all do these things better than we do.
Academic Deans, The NSA and Censorship
Jay Rosen has written a fascinating article in the Guardian today about Johns Hopkin’s response to this blog post by Professor Matthew Green.
The short version of the story is that Green wrote a blog post about the NSA and cryptography on September 5th. Last Monday, Green received a takedown request from the dean of the engineering school claiming that his blog post contained “classified” information and that his use of the NSA logo was a violation of some kind.…
On Time and Evaluation
by Scott Freeman
I was recently at a bar and jokingly attacked by a couple of friends about non-quantitative data. Consultants love them some numbers. While their jests were well taken, the underlying point was also well taken. As Hervè Varenne addressed in his position paper on anthropology and education, students of anthropology often find themselves kowtowing to quantitative research, apologizing for ‘sampling limitations’. This is to say that the type of modernity that insists on brevity and a numerically constructed objectivity may be the current that we swim against most.…
Lawrence Cremin and Mara Mayor Discuss Technology and Education In 1989
Given the discussion of MOOCs that has been occurring in the blogosphere over the last year, I thought it might be helpful to get a longer perspective on technology and education. In that spirit, I have dug up this 30 minute conversation between Lawrence Cremin of Teachers College and Mara Mayor of the Annenberg CPB project on the role of technology in education.
The conversation is here.
The conversation demonstrates that the question surrounding the interplay of technology and education haven’t changed much in the last 25 years, or the last 50.…
Discovering Exaptation: Or, How To Leverage Your Philosophical Baggage To Further Science
I want take up Tony’s question about this Dennett quote:
There is no such thing as philosophy-free science; there is only science whose philosophical baggage is taken on board without examination (Dennett 1995)
One way to answer this is through recourse to the literature on Science and Technology Studies (STS). We could weave our way through a dense web of philosophical and empirical work on scientific practice that demonstrates time and again that value-free inquiry is an illusion.…
Jason Richwine, Scientist?
“We destroy people with the inappropriate tools we use to study them” – Ray Birdwhistell
Jason Richwine has emerged to defend himself in a National Review editorial. As you might expect, Richwine contextualizes his dissertation as an exercise in scientific fortitude and paints himself as a heroic seeker of truth. For example, he sums up the past month this way:
The furor will soon pass. Mercifully, the media are starting to forget about me.
“1 + 1”: More than an Equation
by Amina Tawasil
Schooling is supposed to either spark or augment IQ/cognitive ability which is then exhibited as ‘skills’. Thus, it only follows that schooling increases the chances of upward mobility for girls, women and people of color. And, for men and women in ‘small villages of ailing countries’, schooling is considered a pillar to a successful rural to urban labor migration. In short, schooling is supposed to guarantee financial security.…