Category: Writing

Writing

The Making of “Made in.”

British Empire Marketing Board, 1927 [via]. Despite the sometimes underdetermined discourse surrounding it, there is nothing particularly new about the identification of a product with its place of production. One the earliest examples can still be found preserved in the ruins of Pompeii, on amphora inscribed with the word “Vesuvinum”—wine, from Vesuvius.1 But despite this […]

Writing

Shopping for the System

This is a draft of a talk I delivered at the Maintainers II: Labor, Technology, and Social Orders Conference on April 6-9, 2017 as part of our telephone panel, “Dial M for Maintenance,” with Shari Wolk, Joshua Bell, and Fabian Prieto-Ñañez. The telephone may seem to be the pre-eminent emblem for the history of innovation. There […]

Media Writing

Stranger Phones

I have to confess to being something of a phone nerd (I am a telephone historian, after all). I love watching shows and seeing people talk, type, and text. While most of the time these phones are of the mobile variety, period pieces let us see a telephonic landscape that doesn’t really exist anymore.   Stranger […]

Writing

Material Series

In the 1920s Western Electric put out this fascinating “material series” of advertisements to narrate the material (and men) that went into the Bell telephone. The campaign appeared in a whole host of magazine and periodicals, from mainstream fare like Life, Forbes, and Time to popular technical publications like Scientific American and The Technology Review. […]

Writing

Studies in Sortation

Amazon is a hybrid company, equal parts Walmart and FedEx. Like all great retailers of the modern moment, it is an outsized presence masking the hundreds–thousands–of individuals using its infrastructure to build business behind house labels and simplified searches. But it is distribution that girds the company’s foundation and prefigures its future. In this respect, […]

Writing

Supply Studies Studio

It was my pleasure this month to visit the Portuguese island of Madeira and organize an intensive workshop for HCI, Design, and Computer Science MS and PhD students at M-ITI interested in exploring topics in&emdash;and developing interventions for&emdash;supply studies. Now that we’ve wrapped up, I thought I would put some of the summary information here […]

Writing

Manifests of the Standing-Reserve

Recently I’ve had the chance to give some talks on the history of trade infrastructure, bills of lading, factories, and the intellectual history of “supply.” I shared a similar version of this talk at both the Neil Postman Conference and the Media, Materiality, and Infrastructures workshop here at NYU, so I thought I’d do so […]

Writing

Sleight of Hand

I recently came across an interesting post Andrew James Myers produced as part of his participation in Henry Jenkin’s PhD seminar on Public Intellectuals. Myers writes about the visual representations Apple deploys to narrate that consummate object of modern consumption, the iPhone. As Myers writes: Apple’s recent release of two new iPhone models — the […]

Writing

Little Mesters

The most meaningful realization about working on the history of production is seeing how ragged and disjoint it can be. Rather than a smooth flow toward anonymous production, we see not only pockets of alternative modes that persisted long into the present, but moments where these alternatives seemed positioned to retake the future of production. […]