The standard story of technology Produced in elite spaces; consumed by everyone
Elite production lay appropriation Appropriated Technology
Appropriating Technology: Vernacular Science and Social Power Edited by Ron Eglash, Giovanna Di Chiro, Jennifer Croissant, and Rayvon Fouche. University of Minnesota Press 2004
1)Reinterpretation 2)Adaptation 3)Re-invention 3 Categories of Appropriation
Elite production Lay re-invention 1. Re-interpretation: semantic change only Ancient Egypt as white well-springs of Western civilization, science and technology Ancient Egypt as Black origins of an Afrocentric culture, science and technology
Elite production Lay reinterpretation Other Reinterpretation Examples Analysis of medical properties of turmeric Wood paneled station wagon Sara Lee orange cake Broadway musicals Validity of Ayurvedic healing practices Surfer transportation Soul food Gay “show tunes” Reinterpretation typically a change in the sense of ownership—sometimes a priority claim
Elite production Lay repurposing 2. Adaptation: semantic change and use change (“creative misuse”; repurposing) Boom box in Egypt marketed as playback Boom box’s latent recording function used by Bedouins, led to syncretism and revitalization
3. Reinvention: semantic change, use change and structural change
Actual trajectories can be quite complex as the technology evolves
Emoticons as re-repurposing 1)Email created by those at high social power 2) “Smiley face” emoticons created through appropriation by lay people 3) Appropriation re-appropriated in this keyboard
“Dance circuit” by Sharol Graves Beaded digitizing stylus by Turtle heart Appropriation can be “ethnically specific”
Why appropriate? Sometimes better to solve the problem (lack of social power) than appropriate as a solution Alternative path to policy reform, government intervention, pleading to corporations Analogous to “direct action” in social movements Takes advantage of self-organization (Wiki and mashups: designed for appropriation) Technological citizenship by participatory democracy rather than representative democracy
When should we appropriate? Only when appropriate!
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