12 April 2016

How 'Maintainers,' Not 'Innovators,' Make the World Turn

I have been hearing a lot about 'disrupters' and 'innovators' in tech and marketing industries lately, and something about that language has always irked me.

Lee Vinsel (an assistant professor of science and technology at the Stevens Institute of Technology), and the diverse group of scholars, artists, activists and engineers who attended "The Maintainers" (an interdisciplinary conference that took place April 7-9, 2016) point to some of the reasons why. Presenters "discuss how the human-built world is maintained and sustained—so often by unnamed, unseen, and underpaid labor." Papers explore these issues through a wide range of perspectives, including city infrastructure, the internet, gendered labour, and popular culture -- for example, Vinsel's paper on Mary Poppins as "caregiving hero" in mainstream cinema (available for download).
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