Hedonizing Technologies, or Why Tatting and Cake Decorating are like Ham Radio and Paintball

Sponsored by Science, Technology and Society


Friday, February 8, 2008
12:00 pm –
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Encina Hall E207, East Conference Room Second Floor

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Event Details:

Cornell Scholar Rachel Maines will argue that under historical conditions of prosperity and increasing leisure, technologies formerly associated with work become “hedonized,” adapting to consumer markets that seek pleasure in the use of tools and materials, rather than productivity and efficiency. Hobby technologies diverge from the trajectories of their production counterparts, often, but not always, in archaizing directions, as in the case of vacuum tubes and LP audiophilia. Hobby craft technologies are heavily gendered in expression and are very diverse as regards the timing of the transition: embroidery, gardening and hunting were hedonized by the wealthy in antiquity, but cake decorating and soapmaking did not become hobbies until the 20th century. Although paintball is entirely a phenomenon of the late 20th century, it has its roots in the hedonized paramilitary activities of scouting and battle re-enactment. Hedonized communication hobbies such as audiophilia and ham radio are, of course, recent and modern compared with embroidery and gardening, but their trajectories are strikingly similar as technologies of production adapted to leisure markets for pleasure.

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