Anthropology: The Middle of Next Week (Volume I, 1966)

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 3.50.47 PMI recently came into possession of an original copy of “Anthropology: The Middle of Next Week” – a spoof “magazine” about the discipline of anthropology created by some students at the University of Minnesota in 1966. It’s full of jokes in all forms – including poetry, prose, and lists – about the lives of the students and professors at the University’s Department of Anthropology. Many of the jokes are from an “insider” perspective that only people immersed in the discipline (or in physical anthropology specifically) could understand.


Overall, it’s a fun read – I certainly found it entertaining and have never seen anything like it before (I’d be inclined to do something like this were I still in school!) One of my favorite parts is the section with illustrations of memo pads/scratch pads from different well-known anthropology departments and anthropologists of the era (see page 18.)

You might be asking how I figured out what school it’s from since it’s not apparent on the intro or cover pages. Well, there is one reference on page 12 in the form of a denial of a “request” to purchase the University of Minnesota by the Anthropology Department. But there is nothing else that outright indicates it’s the school the students who created the spoof attended. So, I did a bit of online sleuthing with the names on pages 10-12 (e.g., Rupert Murrill, L.P. Novak, etc.) and confirmed that this was indeed the school of origin (see page 3 of this document.)

A special thanks to David Sachs for finding this for my collection.

Using a resume and a word cloud to visualize professional growth & change

Back in October 2012 I created a word cloud out of my resume to visualize the essence of my professional skills and experiences. Now that it’s been almost 2 years since I did this, I thought it might be cool to create a new word cloud from an updated resume and see how they compare.

Here are the two word clouds:

resumewordle10-6-12October 2012

Screen Shot 2014-07-19 at 12.52.21 PMJuly 2014

Screen Shot 2014-07-19 at 3.02.59 PM2012 and 2014 word clouds together (click for larger view)

One thing that catches my eye is that each one shows how I chose to talk about my professional skills and experiences in a particular moment in time (i.e., the language/perspective I use). For example, in 2012 I still had a very anthropology-centric perspective on my role as a researcher, whereas now my focus is more as an applied or user experience researcher and a business/strategy consultant. So, the prevalence of a particular word might relate to experience/frequency, but it might also relate to how one thinks about one’s career/experiences/professional self (also related to the audience of the resume.)

Clearly a big part of my current professional role is still pretty much the same – exemplified by the word “research” as the most prevalent word in both groups. With the 2014 visualization, I can see that my role has expanded to include more “project management,” “consulting,” “business” and “strategy” than just flat out research. I still draw on the same fundamental epistemology in my work today as I did in 2012 (e.g., “qualitative” and “anthropology”), but it seems that my methodological toolkit has grown. While the 2012 word cloud contains methods like “interviews” and “observation”, the 2014 word cloud features these plus the addition of “usability.” Finally, the word “clients” indicates that I have gained experience in agency-side work (versus my job as an internal researcher in 2012.) Overall, I didn’t have as much professional experience in 2012, so there were more words related to my schooling (e.g., “Memphis,” “Eckerd College,” and “writing”) than real-world work.

I think it’s kind of nifty to easily see the nuts and bolts of my professional journey and to compare the visuals from year to year. Perhaps I will do this again after some more time has passed and see what further changes have taken place.

If you want to create your own word clouds, visit or and enter the text of your entire resume or CV. For different levels of nuance, you can choose how many words to include for analysis (I chose 100 for the 2014 word cloud, but am not sure about the 2012 one.)

Getting at the Heart of Consumer Understanding: Cheap, Fast and Tactical Isn’t the Answer


As researchers in business, how do we balance insightfulness, depth of thought and rigor with the demands and pace of business decision making? Anthropologist Gavin Johnston shares his thoughts below.

Originally posted on anthrostrategist:

Sitting in a meeting not long ago, I couldn’t help overhearing someone comment that the presentation of the rationale for a campaign they had just sat through was too “academic”.  What struck me was the distinction he made between academics and “real businessmen” like himself.  The word “academic” is, of course, loaded but one of the underlying meanings to so many would-be paragons of business is that “academic” means complicated, useless or detached.  Now, while I would be the first to agree that people with an “academic” bent to their work can be prone to laying the jargon on fairly thick at times or wanting to give details that some people might feel aren’t needed, the ones that gain recognition and traction in their field and across disciplines (including business) are anything but detached or lacking in their ability to articulate game-changing product and business solutions.  The practical and the…

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Photo set: Shanghai, China, June 2014

I just returned from an eight-day work trip to Shanghai, China. Luckily I had some time to check out the sites in the largest city (by population) in the world (more than 24 million people as of 2013). Here are some of photos of some of the interesting things I saw. Hover for captions and click for a larger slideshow view.