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The March 26th 2009 issue of the New York Times headlined with a story about Fresno.  With the subtitle, “New Hoovervilles Emerge in Fresno…” our fair city made national headlines because of our poverty.

The article, which I encourage all to read for free at this link, describes an increasing problem in Central California that I’m referring to as the nouveaux pauvre.  [NBC’s Nightly News has a similar news story you can watch at here.]  You all may recall that the French phrase, nouveaux riche refers to those who recently came into money.  What you may not know is that the French also have a phrase depicting the opposite: nouveau pauvre.  Although the Wikepidia entry for  nouveau pauvre is only in French, you can take my word for it that this describes those lesser fortunate folks who have recently come into poverty.

hoooverville_williamette1“Hooverville” named after President Herbert Hoover, refers to the name poverty laden shanty towns [pictured here——->] received during the Great Depression.  Blaming Hoover for the Depression, his name will forever be linked to poverty.

Fresno Famous, a great blog about our city, has been discussing the very issue of some time as well at the following link:

My question is: What can anthropology can do for the problem of the homelessness in Fresno?

I invite you to make any comments or report things here that you have found or written elsewhere.

Is your head in the clouds?teminator32

How about your data? Worse yet, is it in his?—>

Software as a Service (SaaS), sometimes referred to as “Cloud Computing”, was the topic of this morning’s  Central Valley Software Partnership meeting.  The Partnership, launched by the RJI (Regional Jobs Initiative) has been meeting monthly at the Central Valley Business Incubator to discuss software applications in industry in our area.

Ian Duffield, COO of Decipher, Inc. Survey Reporting and Data Collection lead a discussion revolving around the implications of SaaS as well as current applications in the Fresno area.  From what I gathered, SaaS is here to stay and is a real success in local industry.


So what is this all about anyway?  Many of us are using  “web based” email from Yahoo or Gmail and more and more of us are watching TV on hulu.  These are SaaS.145px-hulu_logosvg2

To Rent or to Buy

Beyond the “geeky” technical difference between having your own tech team or having someone else solve all of those problems, there lies two distinct (and competing) business models: To rent or to buy?  To illustrate these models in terms of mass market personal use, let’s talk about Rhapsody’s subscription model and Itunes‘ purchasing model.  Rhapsody is a service that allows you (for about $14 a month) to listen to all the music you want on a few devices.  You can fill up, empty and refill your MP3 player as often as you like.  Conversely, with Itunes, you buy one song then another etc..  Although Itunes is far more profitable than Rhapsody at the moment, this “Subscription” model is most likely the wave of the future.

This brings us back to “Skynet” the evil fictional monster in the machine that made the Terminator films such big hits.  If we are to embrace “Cloud Computing” more fully, we are going to have to let go of the notion that holding information is safer than allowing others (often machines) to hold it for us.

I spent the last year blogging on my own about how Anthropology can be useful to non-anthropologists by popularizing or “making public” the otherwise dry theoretical content of the field.  Although I have enjoyed my work on my personal blog TheAnthroGeek, I have learned that this sort of public application of anthropological theory and method could be of particular benefit to my local context in Fresno, CA (USA)

Therefore, I am teaming up with Henry Delcore, a colleague and friend to focus on a more local inspection and reflection upon how the core competencies of ethnography can be practiced in California’s Central Valley.

I recently moved into Fresno Cohousing so I will likely be talking about life in a modern day village from time to time.  This move signifies a deep and lasting bond I have forged with my new hometown of Fresno, CA.  Let’s see if practicing anthropology here can make a difference.

TheAnthroGuys@ Swearingen's Swearing-in bash

[October 2010 Addendum: I (TheAnthroGeek) have since moved out of Fresno Cohousing but still live in North Fresno and TheAnthroGuy moved down to the Tower District.  We both remain committed to Fresno.  Although coincidental, was launched at the same time that Ashley Swearengin took office as Fresno’s Mayor.  In fact, our inaugural picture was taken at her inaugural event in 2008].

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