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Friday, May 29 • 2:45pm - 4:00pm
Technology, Archives, and Participation in Pop and Fan Culture

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A panel of two papers:

New Old Educational Media: Finding a Public for a Personal Archive
Lauren Rae Hall

This presentation offers a narrative of the difficulties and pleasures of finding--and often crafting--a public. I broadly discuss archives as sites of human engagement and work and suggest ways of connecting and promoting often peculiar, often hidden archival objects--and the stories they share and represent--with a larger public. I consider: What are the challenges of finding or fashioning a public for an archive? What are the politics of a desirable archival practice and public (and how do they intersect)? How can we use social media and other creative platforms to promote archives, archival objects, and archival work as a whole?

The central case study is my personal archive of vintage educational technology. I examine the challenges of explaining the necessity of that archive and of related archival projects to a broader public. In concert with HASTAC’s #DigitalCollections community, I shared this archive with multiple, differently constructed publics. In this presentation, I analyze the appeal (and unappeal) of this collection--which includes behaviorist teaching machines, educational board games, and midcentury instructional recordings--for specific academic and popular constituencies. I offer suggestions for promoting personal collections and archive-based collections.

This presentation is within the scope of this year’s conference theme because of its special attention to the necessarily interdisciplinary, critical and creative work of archive creation, curation, and promotion. It will be of particular interest to historians, professional and amateur archivists, and makers who work with archival objects.

Computers on Law & Order
Jeff Thompson

Detailed accounts have been written of mainframes and cloud computing, social media and online commerce, but there are few books about the more humble aspects of technological culture. Screensavers, bubble-jet printers, computer desks, and other physical technologies are thrown in the trash or overwritten with new versions; the way we talk about computers, the “Web,” and the ways technology shapes culture has changed considerably since the birth of the PC. This paper examines how we can find anthropological details about our relationship with technology through popular media, specifically the television program Law & Order.

In 2012, I was commissioned by the new media arts organization Rhizome to create a project recording every computer on Law & Order. After watching all 319 hours of the show (or the equivalent of about two straight months watching 40-hours a week) and extracting approximately 11,000 screenshots of computers and related technologies, it is clear that Law & Order forms a unique database of images and speech, and one that reflects the fascinations, fears, and biases of its time. Law & Order’s long run and its “ripped from the headlines” content makes it a useful lens with through which to look at a period of great political and economic change in the United States. In particular, the show coincides with a major cultural shift: the rise and eventual ubiquity of computers and networked technologies over a crucial 20-year period in technological history.

Using my Computers on Law & Order project as a case study, this paper focuses on how these kind of details that can be unearthed from media, and that in fact media may be the only way to recover the most mundane details. Through a series of categorized screenshots and quotations, I examine several pathways through the archive of the show: the physical infrastructure of computers from shared desktop terminals to smartphones, the development of software interfaces from often-faked text-only input to interactive graphical user interfaces, and peripherals such as mice and printers. The paper ends with a discussion of how research projects like this, created as speculative creative research derived from popular culture and whose main archive is posted entirely online, can form another possible trajectory for digital humanities scholarship.

The project can be viewed at: http://www.computersonlawandorder.tumblr.com

avatar for Carl Dyke

Carl Dyke

Professor of History, Methodist University
I teach mostly introductory world history, as well as seminars on modern Europe in / and the world, Latin America, race and ethnicity, classical and contemporary social theory, and gender. Research interests include Gramsci, Durkheim, Weber, and the history of complex systems theory... Read More →

avatar for Lauren Rae Hall

Lauren Rae Hall

PhD Candidate, University of Pittsburgh
avatar for Jeff Thompson

Jeff Thompson

Assistant Professor and Program Director, Visual Arts & Technology, Stevens Institute of Technology
Jeff Thompson is an artist, programmer, hacker, and educator based in the NYC area. He is currently Assistant Professor and Program Director of Visual Art & Technology at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. His work explores collaboration with, empathy for... Read More →

Designated Tweeters
avatar for Kim Lacey

Kim Lacey


Kimberly Bain

Post-Baccalaureate, 5CollDH

Friday May 29, 2015 2:45pm - 4:00pm EDT
Willy Conference Room Kellogg Center

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