Marketing Anthropology

John Mcreery (jlm@TWICS.COM)
Thu, 9 Jun 1994 00:11:52 JST

Bonnie Blackwell writes,

"It is a sad day when we have to justify the quest for knowledge in terms
of what it can provide for the industrial marketplace. Who can say
from what study the next great piece of knowledge will come. To
attempt to limit humankind's quest for knowledge is to attempt to
limit the growth of future generations."

It may be sad; it may also be true.

Then, again, I feel overinterpreted. Who said "provide for the industrial
marketplace"? The question is what do we offer that other people--butchers,
bakers and candlestickmakers, not to mention film directors, reporters,
critics, chemists, and/or captains of industry should be willing to pay
for? Why should we expect "the next great piece of knowledge" to come
from anthropologists instead of, say, epidemiologists, linguists, neurosurgeons,virtual reality programmers,etc., ad infinitum. When information was scarce,
the odds were that any contribution might be valuable. Now we're drowning in
information. OK, the equation of information with knowledge is questionable--
but where does our claim on special treatment in the same world with slaughteredRwandans, earthquake and tsunami wracked Indonesians, Bosnian Serbs, etc.,
etc. come from. Knowledge for knowledge sake is, like art for arts sake, a
great idea. But given the circumstances, it sounds a bit too precious.
Once again, what can we offer that someone(%E?FS $@~ (J who isn't one of us, with our peculiar interests, ought to be willing to pay for? Hate to be crude, but
there it is?

(That last ? should be a .)

John McCreery (JLM@TWICS.COM)