Domesticating electricity

Domesticating electricity - Domesticating Electricity 1...

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Domesticating Electricity 1 Thursday, October 6, 11
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Outline Domesticating Technology Fear and Electricity Electricity as Danger Making Electricity safe The con±ict over currents A.C./D.C. Tesla and Westinghouse Edison’s smear campaing 2 Thursday, October 6, 11
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Domesticating technology Technological artifacts need to be symbolically (and practically) tamed before they can be assimilated into the household. An innovation will only gain a permanent footing in the home if its role is made meaningful and unthreatening to the household economy and its values. Need to ask how and why a technology is adopted not why it isn’t. A metaphorical analysis that tries to break away from the assumption of technological change as inevitable. 3 Thursday, October 6, 11
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Histories of Technology have a tendency to take adoption of new technology as inevitable but if we look closely it is never that simple. To create a demand for electricity several hurdles need to be overcome: The existence of gas as a sensible, cheap and established system A public concern over the dangers of Electricity The need to develop a complete technical system Adoption of electric lights depended as much on the ability of electricity promoters to redirect fears about the innate dangers of electricity, represent gas power as dirty and dangerous, and use gender speciFc authority to reach both male and female household managers as it did on system building and cost efFciency. 4 Thursday, October 6, 11
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Domesticating Electricity in the U.K. Dealing with ‘the public’ is messy. Some people do adopt technology early, some don’t. Experience and perception of Technology vary greatly depending on context and personal temperament. In the U.K. the process of domesticating electricity was long and slow In the U.S. the experience is much more mediated by awe than fear but there was still signiFcant public concern over the dangers of electricity. Edison plays on this fear in his anti A.C. campaign 5 Thursday, October 6, 11
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Domesticating electricity - Domesticating Electricity 1...

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