Popularizing Anthropology

Code is Poetry

After nice responses to the blog’s soft launch, made some site updates and upgrades. I’m not sure if I’m ready to adopt the “Code is Poetry” motto from the blogging software at WordPress (or wear a Code-is-Poetry t-shirt), but perhaps learning some coding is roughly parallel to what Ruth Benedict did before publishing Patterns of Culture in 1934:

She debated with friends and her editor the merits and demerits of over fifty titles for the book, worried about the colour of its cover, rewrote its blurb several times, insisted that its price be as low as possible, and got Mead to publicize it in conversations and reviews.
— Jeremy MacClancy, Popularizing Anthropology, 1996:32


Updates on “Code is Poetry”

This was a launching post for Living Anthropologically. For more on Ruth Benedict and popularizing anthropology, see Ruth Benedict, Franz Boas, and the Anthropological Concept of Culture.

The theme of anthropologists learning WordPress code is in broad agreement with Alex Golub’s 2017 post Editing Wikipedia > Writing Letters to the New York Times. Golub urges anthropologists to write reviews on Amazon and edit Wikipedia entries:

Wikipedia is just one site where new public anthropology can happen. It could happen on Twitter, or Medium, or Facebook, or Quora, or in a review for Amazon. This new, important, efficacious public anthropology has the power to inform, convince, and persuade. But its not what we’re used to. Anthropologists need to stop leaning on their titles and claims to expertise. Instead, they need to start making expert claims. Moving from a heroic, ineffective public anthropology to new and unfamiliar genres will be key to making sure that everyone, everywhere, has access to the factual and accurate information they need in this troubling new time.


To cite: Antrosio, Jason. 2011. “Code is Poetry: Popularizing Anthropology.” Living Anthropologically website, https://www.livinganthropologically.com/codeispoetry/. First posted 10 February 2011. Revised 29 August 2017.


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