Cyberanthropologist Amber Case has been kicking around the news feeds for a while now. In 2010, Fast Company named her one of the most influential women in technology, topping out the ‘brainiacs’ list. By early 2011, she had spoken at Ted Talks, and just this week she has once again been featured across many media outlets. So why is she getting so much attention?
Case has used her studies in anthropology to delve into how we, as humans, are all ‘cyborgs’ – fusions between humans and machines. She claims that while traditional tools (e.g. the steel axe) extended the physical human being, technological tools are extending the mental human being. Amber reflects in her work on how we connect with machines, how we manage our ‘second online selves’, and on our need to disconnect from technology so that we can connect meaningfully between each other.
More recently, Case has launched a company called Geoloqi. Her anthropological research contributed to the design of this company, and it seems to be paying off. Just this week, Forbes, Digital trends and Gigaom have all sung the praises of this startup. Venturebeat provides a good description of the link between her anthropological research and the company.
For a more in-depth ethnographic study, Case’s work can be nicely paired with that of David Hakken or Boelstorff’s Coming of Age in Second Life. More simply, Case can be used as one answer to the student question “what can I do with a degree in anthropology?”