Re: intro to anthropology

wilkr (wilkr@INDIANA.EDU)
Mon, 1 Aug 1994 10:01:11 -0500

On Sun, 31 Jul 1994, J. D. Iverson Esq. wrote:

> In response to:
> "I would also like to see networkers' responses concerning the best
> textbooks available for the Intro to Anthro class."
> I write:
> Sushil, you might find that the Anthropology HyperTextBook (for Macintosh or
> Newton) might help. If you would like additional information, let me know.
> Jeff Iverson

The best way to start answering this question is to ask yourself whether
you want to use a standard text, a book of short readings, or short basic
ethnographies. There are good examples of all three out there, and there
seem to be more every year. So you can find good examples of all three -
you may also want to combine them. For a long time I combined a textbook
with a reader. Now I use a textbook and two ethnographies. Earlier in the
summer we heard from Mike Leiber, who uses eight ethnographies. I am
thinking about dumping the textbook and going to a combination of a
reader and ethnographies.

I asked Mr. Iverson for a copy of his hypertext book. He sent me a short
demo and a bill for $5 (which I thought odd, since he had said on email
that it was free. I guess free means something different to some people.)
I found that the product was a terribly outdated collection of
miscellaneous "factoids," mostly HRAF-style descriptions of "tribes." The
text used words like "primitive" and "tribe" in a way I would not find
acceptable in a textbook written after 1970. There were no graphics in
the version I was sent. It made no innovative or constructive use of the
hypertext format, except to have cross-linkages between topics, kind of
like a glossary. Since the whole thing is just a list of terms and
definitions, I cannot imagine an introductory student finding any _ideas_
that would link the factoids into a coherent whole. I am not even sure
that hypertext is a useful format for an introduction to anthropology. It
seems to me that linear flow of ideas has some purpose in introducing a
series of ideas that build on each other. Instead this hypertext is all

Richard Wilk

Selling one's own efforts on anthro-l is not always a bad thing. Many of
us have advertised our ideas, papers, and books here. But none of us are
in the publishing business. So I think Mr. Iverson has crossed the line.
Besides that, his product seems to be shoddy hackwork. I have no
intention of reading his posts any more. If you do not like what he is
doing, send him email to that effect.