Kits for Cultural History

Digital Technology & Culture 101

Last week, Jentery Sayers visited WSU from the University of Victoria, BC. He teaches in the English Department there and collaborates on a number of critical making projects at the Maker Lab. His presentation on Thursday featured some of those projects, specifically on prototyping as a practice for academic inquiry. Prototyping usually lets inventors and innovators develop a preliminary model of a new product. They use a prototype to present their new idea to others, letting the prototype serve as a first manufacturing step toward mass production. For that reason, prototypes tend to be associated with future objects, commercial production, industrial innovation—all realms of work normally set apart from humanistic inquiry.

Sayers and the folks at Maker Lab, however, use prototyping to think about the past. They prototype cultural objects that we no longer have access to, either because they’ve all disappeared or because there are so few…

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