Gadgetry: Emerging Media and the Fictional Imagination
Today, the word “gadget” evokes smartphones and activity trackers: digital devices that pack a countless range of functionalities into a small, black box. Many humanists argue these tools are fundamentally altering the ways we read, communicate, and even think, citing decreased attention spans, fragmented reading experiences, and the depersonalization of social relationships. But a look into the history of the word “gadget” tells a very different story, one in which the functionality of this indeterminate object (“gadget” is, after all, little more than a placeholder for an anonymous tool) shifts dramatically according to the needs and desires of the era.
A single smartphone contains no fewer than two hundred chemical compounds, and the scale of its lifecycle is truly global: from rare-earth metal mines in Baotou, to data centers in Iowa, to grey markets in Jakarta, and electronics scrap yards in Delhi. This project will search for resonance between the “attention economy” as it’s experienced by users of digital devices, and forms of labor along the global supply chain of mining, refining, and manufacturing for these devices.
Princeton Prosody Archive
A fulltext searchable database of writing on prosody spanning 1750-1950. Includes thousands of manuscripts, manuals, articles, grammar books, and other materials on the rhythm and intonation of spoken language.
Hand Crank Media
A media archaeology of devices either powered, operated, or loaded by hand crank, 1420-2170.
A physical volume control knob for your social media stream. Developed at Values in Design 2012 in Irvine.
General Exam Lists
In the hopes that some future grad student can make use of these, I’ve posted the working versions of my PhD general exam lists.