Uh…. does anyone else think its incredibly creepy that the AAA’s new ‘Registry of Anthropological Data Wiki‘ is hosted by Wikia and festooned with ads? Did you ever dream of the day that you could both locate the field notes of Mary Clifton Ayres and learn 3 questions that are PROVEN to make women want you?
Awake, sleeper, for your dreams have become reality.
In principle a wiki where people could advertise their archives is a good idea — a similar effort to get people to share syllabi is really useful and cool (confession: I’ve been too busy to upload mine). But a site where the AAA supports its technology costs through banner ads? It seems like a parody, frankly, and I wouldn’t be convinced that the site is actually run by the AAA if I hadn’t seen the announcement on their blog.
In the past I’ve often been critical of the AAA for insisting on taking the high road when a more DIY approach would do — outsourcing web design to expensive consultants instead of paying a grad student to whip one up, and so forth. Taking the high road is simply too expensive for an organization our size and we end up being bled dry. But, whatever: the AAA wanted to go high-brow, sell off our creative work to Wiley-Blackwell, and so on in order to keep our association looking like a Lexus rather than a Corolla. I respect that choice, as much as I disagree with it.
It’s just that I’m not sure what sort of shift is being signaled now that our association is sharing a hosting service with the Dungeon Defenders Wiki. Except, frankly, my prediction is that in the long run the Dungeon Defenders wiki will do a much better job of informing the public about Dungeon Defenders than the AAA’s wiki will about anthropology.
I’m guessing this is part of the ‘grey literature portal’ that the AAA was asking members to donate money to support? Because I don’t see why we should have to pay for a grey portal site when we could simply rent out space on it to let people know about the new vaginal ring that prevents dryness or the new chicken crispers at Chili’s (you can order online!).
Even as I write this I’m sure the AAA is ponying up for the money to make the ads on their wiki disappear. I think, with complete seriousness, that this is a real shame. Now that the AAA has let the neoliberal genie out of the bottle I see no reason to put it back in. In a previous post I complained that the AAAs were a regressive tax on grad students and adjuncts. I think now I see the solution: why not seek corporate funding for the annual meetings and use the increased income to let adjuncts and grad students come to the meetings for free? It would be easy: we could simply change the name of the meetings from “American Anthropological Association Annual Meetings” to the “Frito-Lay American Anthropological Association Annual Meetings”. Perhaps instead of giving the under-employed name tags we could ask that they indicate their free registration to the security guards outside the book room, we could provide some sort of bright, colorful jersey for them to wear with advertising on it — you know, like sports teams wear in some countries. That way they would be earning their keep. Perhaps if we got Monsanto to sponsor American Anthropologist, we could give it away open access. After all, that’s the business model listings mags use.
I’m not kidding. Let’s run the numbers folks.