Who’s who?

I keep getting the Marquis Who’s Who query letters, and I keep sending them updates to my life (e.g., I’m now at Quinnipiac University). But I also always feel a little cheesy. Does anyone actually buy or use these things any more?

First, I know that many similar guides are are actually “just” scams. But is the Marquis version any better, really? Some years ago, probably as an undergrad, I recall using the Who’s Who pages at the library to track people down, but that was pre-WWW. At this stage, that seems silly. I’m reluctant to say this, because I know people who are actually pretty proud of being in Who’s Who, but it seems like a significant waste of time. I’m now included in a few of them: Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in Science and Technology, and (flummoxed!) Who’s Who Among Emerging Leaders. I actually kind of wonder who’s in that one, and whether any of them will actually “emerge.” Oh, and my partner is in Who’s Who of American Students; or at least she was, I guess she’s not a student any more so they drop her? And where is Who’s Who of American Canines? I guess that must be the AKC–or rather Who’s Who is the human equivalent of the AKC?

Part of my interest in Who’s Who is that it seems to be an anachronism. While they make a claim to legitimacy, indicating that they are not just a vanity guide, I imagine that the primary source of their income is the plaques and crystal awards they sell with your name on it. Wouldn’t the prominence of the guide be increased significantly (further driving those sales!) if they opened access to the guide? But then, isn’t that true of most publications at this point?

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4 Comments

  1. Posted 10/15/2006 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    never heard of this thing. is it an american thing? but then again, you’re talking to someone who moves his blog periodically just to keep that sort of thing in check.

  2. Posted 10/15/2006 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    That’s so funny you wrote about this just now, because not 24 hours earlier I was remembering that I had (once again) not replied to them and it got me to wondering whether it’s a totally antiquated practice or if it still matters and I am decimating my future fortunes by neglecting my opportunity to be better-listed. And there you are, wondering the same things. I guess it still serves as a status marker of a sort, but these days when anyone who’d make it in there can be googled and judged for themselves, one does have to wonder if it’s anything more than a way for people to self-promote. Like we really need more ways to do that these days! I dunno, I can’t remember the last time I heard anyone mention it as though it mattered. I think having a wiki entry is worth more these days (and I am miffed that my father’s collaborator gets one for a set of equations that bear both their names, but my father does not!).

  3. alex
    Posted 10/15/2006 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    Jason: Ryerson’s library has the Who’s Who in Communications & Media which (ironically) I’m not in. U Toronto has electronic access to them all.

    Nancy: If it’s on a wiki, can’t you fix that :).

  4. Posted 10/16/2006 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    Alas, I don’t know enough about physics to write a wiki entry on him. But someone should. Maybe you have some physicist readers…

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