Monday, October 22, 2007


I'm just back from the conference of the Society for the History of Technology. It was the 50th anniversary of the society, with a lot of interesting special events including a special symposium. But what I will post this morning, very tired, is the most amusing talk I heard. It was a talk by Rachel Maines on "Hedonizing Technologies, or Why Tatting and Cake Decoration are Like Ham Radio and Paintball." The focus was on how hobby technologies do not follow the patterns of progress that apply to other technologies, but instead often go backward in time. But she started out by arguing that unpleasant work often turns later into a hobby technology, from hobby coal mining to extreme ironing.

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