Very interesting, readable essay on the contributions made by amateurs to technology, including:
- Wireless telegraphy
- Model Ts
- Hot rods
What drives amateurs?
- Kristen Haring (ham radio hobbyists) - technical identity --> "productive form of leisure," with advanced technical component.
Question - "In theory, all users of a technology can reinvent it at their pleasure, yet few do. Why are most technologies relatively stable?" (p. 96). Answers:
- Technological momentum (Hughes)
- Public understanding of science: "It’s not necessarily that laypeople are constitutionally unable to engage in scientific knowledge production, but rather that they wouldn’t be taken seriously as part of the discussion. The ability to legitimately produce knowledge is determined by factors more social than innate." (p. 96) This doesn't totally apply to technology because the "ontological stakes are lower" (p.. 95).
This is changing now that the boundaries between producer and consumer culture continue to blur... there's a growing visibility of amateurs.
1. C. Leadbeater and P. Miller, The Pro-Am Revolution, Demos, 2004. 2. S. Douglas, Inventing American Broadcasting, 1899–1922, Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1987, chap. 6; S. Douglas, Listening In, Times Books, 1999, chap. 3. 3. J. O’Connell, ”The Fine-Tuning of a Golden Ear,” Technology and Culture, vol. 33, no. 1, 1992, pp. 1-37. 4. R. Kline and T. Pinch, ”Users as Agents of Technological Change,” Technology and Culture, vol. 37, no. 4, 1996, pp. 763-765. 5. K. Haring, Technical Identity in the Age of Electronics, doctoral dissertation, History of Science, Harvard Univ., 2002. 6. T. Hughes, “Technological Momentum,” Does Technology Drive History, M. Smith and L. Marx, eds., MIT Press, 1994. 7. S. Levy, Hackers, Dell Publishing, 1984; S. Turkle, The Second Self, Simon and Schuster, 1984. 8. H. Nissenbaum, ”Hackers and the Contested Ontology of Cyberspace,” New Media & Society, vol. 6, no. 2, 2004, pp. 195-207.