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?