[Air-L] Reputation and professional degrees

Ingbert Floyd ifloyd2 at gmail.com
Tue Jan 5 12:06:39 PST 2010

I think it is important to note that in the case of the professional &
amateur astronomers, and the earlier case of the professional &
amateur naturalists, the mutual respect comes out of shared, strongly
held values regarding the value of the science, the care that must be
taken in the collection of data, and the shared goal of developing a
particular kind of understanding of the world. It seems to me that the
values of the academic anthropologists, whether or not they have a
degree, and the values of the people who are employed by corporations,
are at times radically different, and that is the source of the
tension, especially because the people on the corporate side who use
the label often make little effort to understand the academic use of
the label. Now, obviously, this is not universally true. There are
many people on the corporate side of things who do understand the
academic side of things, but I'm not talking about the exceptions to
the rule. The same division also occurs within academia, between
people from anthropology departments, and people in computer science
departments. That's not to say there aren't any people in computer
science departments who understand the perspective of the
anthropologists (Paul Dourish is an excellent example, though he's
currently in an information science department). But if, for example,
you look at how the word ethnography is used in the CSCW literature,
and how it is used in the anthropology literature, they can be very
different things.

Personally, I do rapid ethnography, which most anthropologist would
not recognize as true ethnography. But my purposes and goals are
different than theirs, and I would never presume to call myself an
anthropologist. I am a social scientist (I am from library and
information science), but I am not a sociologist, as I study analog
and computing technology as well as people and their interactions.


On Tue, Jan 5, 2010 at 1:52 PM, Liz <nwjerseyliz at yahoo.com> wrote:
> I find this an interesting topic as someone with a first draft of her dissertation but no Ph.D. I identify myself with my academic discipline but because of professional requirements, I've had to look outside of universities for employment.
> I've found that people in social networks take it on faith that I am a sociologist, albeit not a professor, which I appreciate. At least, no one has asked to see a CV. But when I first started following people on Twitter, I did a bio search for those who describe themselves as an anthropologist or sociologist and was surprised how much these titles had been appropriated by people who, as part of their job in marketing or media, try to make sense of why people act as they do. "Technology anthropologist" is one title I've seen several times by people working in social media.
> In one sense, people can call themselves whatever they want. But there is a lack of self-consciousness or irony in ascribing an expertise to oneself that I think most credentialed people within those disciplines would find a surprise.
> In The Long Tail, Chris Anderson discusses the cooperation & respect professional & amateur astronomers have for each others abilities and how they've come together to work on some research projects. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think it's more likely that this pro-am collegiality could occur in technology & media studies than in the social sciences.
> Liz Pullen
> nwjerseyliz at yahoo.com
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Ingbert Floyd
PhD Student
Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
http://ingbert.org/     ||     skype/twitter/etc.: spacesoon

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