Anthropology and Other Useless Fields

“If I ever have to do something like this again, I’m taking your topic!” I said that to my young classmate Joanne this morning as I congratulated her on a very successful presentation. The assignment was 20-25 minutes on a web usability/accessibility topic. I have been very impressed with all of the presentations but her topic totally blew me away.

I don’t remember the exact title but she discussed the issues involved in designing web sites that are usable for, well, the World Wide Web. How *do* we design web sites that are accessible to people who speak any one of umpteen-gazillion languages? And what about the multi-dimensional continuum of cultural differences? There must be a better term for what I just said. Anthropologists, what do you say?

To me, the size of that topic equals the size of the universe. But then my brain segued to the buzz I’ve been hearing over the last year about how anthropologists are hot hires in the field of web development. Some guy (don’t remember who or where) actually said to me that he’d hire my daughter with the anthro minor in a heartbeat. The issues behind all of this are usability and accessibility. How do people use the web? What might make it easier for them to access web-delivered content? And *buy* things? What about people with different skills and cultural values than the typical “Silicon Valley geek” or “soccer mom?”

All I want to say here is: people, stop telling your kids (and grandkids and nieces and fifth cousins eight times removed and neighbors and the children of aliens from the planet Zephron III) that they have to major in things like engineering or medicine or computer science or business.

Kids, major in what you are interested in. Work hard. Write those papers. Reading, writing, critical thinking. Show up on time. Participate. Be upbeat if at all possible. You may not find that pot of gold when you first graduate from college. You may not find a career that will last your entire life. That’s okay! Just keep on learning. Smile at those who want to tell you what to do. My permanently offline buddy bigbandboy will tell you how to do that smile. And how to ignore everyone and go ahead and do your own thing!

P.S. Did I say that anthropologists are in hot demand? I’m surrounded by them and although I don’t know that *my* anthropologists are interested in doing web site stuff, I want them to know that they *are* valued!!!! In the “high-tech” world, no less.

One Response to “Anthropology and Other Useless Fields”

  1. Sam Says:

    Yea for anthro, the window on the world!!