I feel braindead this week. Rather than my other inane question (“What can the writers of Big Love do to make Nikki a likable and believable character?”), I am instead wondering what constitutes an “affiliation” these days.
I’ve dabbled in a lot of different academic organizations over the years, depending on what I felt like my discipline was. I’ve been a member, at one time or another, of ICA, ACM, IAMCR, AEJMC, ASIST, IEEE, MEA, ASA, CPSR, and probably a bunch I can’t remember. The only organizations with which I’ve been pretty consistent are AIR and the USJA, the latter because I am a life member. (I guess the USJA doesn’t show up on my vita either, but if I ever get around to publishing here, it might.) In many of these organizations the most I did was pay my fees and attend a conference or two. And the conferences already show up on my vita. So maybe it’s just a way of saying I (or my institution) can afford to pay to support these organizations, in which case it feels like the academic equivalent of a Chanel handbag.
But the truth is the organizations that I learn the most from and get the most out of I don’t pay for at all. Some of them are largely listserv based. Although I don’t pay dues, I still read lists for the MEA and IDC, among others. And more than three quarters of the subscribers to AIR-L are not dues-paying members. It seems to me that contributing to these lists represents more of a scholarly effort than paying dues to an organization. I think in some disciplines people even list postings to listservs, though that is scoffed at by many.
So what about the groups I join on Facebook? I’ll be the first to admit that being a member of “Researchers Researching Researchers,” though it may in fact, be a research interest, doesn’t really mean that much. Even less so the exclusive “Money is pimp” group (4 members), which even more closely tracks on my research interests. Noting these seems just as valid as–and a lot cheaper than–noting my affiliation with various scholarly organizations.