HPS202H1 Lecture Notes - Wireless Power Transfer

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Thursday, October 6, 2011
Domesticating Technology
tech need to be symbolically and practically tamed before they can be assimilated into
innovation only gain permanent footing in home if its role is made meaning and
unthreatening to household economy and values
need to ask how and why tech is adapted and why
Histories of tech have tendency to take adoption of new tech as inevitable but not that
simple, to create demand for electricity need to overcome
existence of gas as sensible, cheap and established system
public concern over dangers of electricity
need to develop complete tech system
adoption of electric lights depended as much on ability of promoters to redirect fears
about innate dangers, represent gas as dirty and dangerous, and use gender specific
authority to reach both household gender managers as it did on system building and
cost efficiency
aesthetics of home increasingly feminine domain, women have to also be
In U.K.
dealing with public is messy, some people adopt tech early, some don’t
experience and perception of tech vary greatly depending on context and personal
process of domesticating electricity long and slow
in US experience much more mediated by awe than fear but significant public concern
over dangers; Edison plays on this fear in antiAC campaign
systems actually not too different, power potential
Constructing Fear
lack of scientific consensus on what electricity is and exactly how it behaves
fires in Pearl St Station, 1881 Paris exposition
electrocution of Lord Salisbury’s servant 1882, first innocent bystander killed by
electricity in home
gas promoters represent electricity as dangerous, poorly understood and even more
poorly managed, too unpredictable and threatening to allow into home, metaphors of of
wild, untamed lightening
Death of William Dimmock (1881)
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