Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Don't Ma'am Me

Yesterday, I posted a link to an article from the Times on the nature of titles and the response of some women to being called ma’am. My female Twitter audience seemed to agree that they didn't really care for the title—though older females indicated that ma’am didn’t bother them as much. I have only been called ma’am once. I was definitely put off by it, but the sales clerk who did it had to be about fifteen, so perhaps I looked like a ma’am to her. (Still, yikes!) Ma’am is my mom, my aunts, my mother-in-law. Ma’am can now probably be applied to some teachers I had in school. My feeling is that I am not a ma’am. I might become one in the future, but for now that is not me.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Making Coffee Conversational Again: The Return of the Coffeehouse

The original coffeehouses were public gathering places. They were social spaces where people could argue politics, get and share news, and just generally enjoy each others' company. This trend persisted despite attempts to ban these meetinghouses and the caffeinated beverage that drew people together. Coffee—and caffeine—had us hooked on this type of downtime. But it wouldn’t last.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

White Flight in Social Networks? A Story of Another Digital Divide

Ed Note: It is with great pleasure that AiP plays host to
Eric Michael Johnson as part of the Primate Diaries in Exile blog tour. Eric has written a fantastic post on the anthropology of social networks, covering the racial and economic disparities of Facebook and MySpace. You can follow other stops on this tour through his RSS feed or at the #PDEx hashtag on Twitter. Eric, you're definitely welcome any time!

Readers, thanks for joining us today—if this is your first visit to Anthropology in Practice, please make yourself comfortable and peruse the archives. You are also welcome any time.  - K

When I was in high school in a small California town I quickly figured out that mixing cliques was difficult. My network of friends initially extended across cultural and class lines but I soon understood that I had to choose. Since I lived in the rural mountains just outside of town many of the friends I grew up with would, in high school terms, be classified as “rednecks” or “white trash.” But as I was building my self-identity I gravitated more towards my artistic and theater friends and away from those who enjoyed heavy metal and going off-roading in their pickup trucks. But in order to fit in I found I had to adopt the same style as those around me. So out went the sports T-shirts and ball caps and in came the thrift store clothing and suit jackets. I found it strange that to be an independent freethinker (what my friends in the arts saw as the most important quality) I would have to dress and act just like them. Little did I know it, but this would be an important lesson in understanding the anthropology of social networks.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hoarding Connections: The Boundaries of the Network

Facebook users are probably already familiar with the "People You May Know Feature" on Facebook which attempts to connect users to people whom they may, well, know based on degrees of connectivity. This feature has moved toward the bottom of the page and has been replaced by a "Friend Finder" feature which offers to search the user's email address book for potential missing contacts, but the idea remains the same: network saturation. These tools are meant to maximize the potential of our online networks, but are they really working?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Unmasking Eoanthropus dawsoni, The First Englishman

Archaeology can hold the key to national identity. Think about it: a find, even if it’s not King Tut’s funerary mask, can provide a testament to the accomplishments of a civilization. It anchors the heritage of a people. So it should come as no surprise that when archaeologists began to piece together the story of human evolution that everyone wanted to claim a place in the narrative—as evolution came to be more accepted in the late 19th-century, there was a certain pride in claiming a human ancestor within the boundaries of the nation. It provided a sense of origin for people and heightened their sense of nativism.