Another brief manifesto essay like Jackson; also stemming from the History of Science / STS community.

  • Against innovation: after progress in the 1960’s, innovation: “a smaller, and morally neutral, concept arose. Innovation provided a way to celebrate the accomplishments of a high-tech age without expecting too much from them in the way of moral and social improvement.”
  • Economic crisis hit: “Yet, this need for booming new industries became problematic as the United States headed into the troubled times of the 1970s and early 1980s. Whole economic sectors, the auto industry, for example, hit the skids.”
  • Silicon Valley stands up to take the innovation charge: hail neoliberalism, etc. “At the turn of the millennium, in the world of business and technology, innovation had transformed into an erotic fetish.”
  • “The trajectory of ‘innovation’ from core, valued practice to slogan of dystopian societies, is not entirely surprising, at a certain level. There is a formulaic feel: a term gains popularity because it resonates with the zeitgeist, reaches buzzword status, then suffers from overexposure and cooptation. Right now, the formula has brought society to a question: after ‘innovation’ has been exposed as hucksterism, is there a better way to characterise relationships between society and technology?” Three answers: 1) tech is not innovation (citing Edgerton); 2) we must recognize infrastructure, which inevitably must take on a moral dimensions; 3) we need to valorize the unseen work of maintenance.
  • “We can think of labour that goes into maintenance and repair as the work of the maintainers, those individuals whose work keeps ordinary existence going rather than introducing novel things.”
  • “One important topic of conversation is the danger of moving too triumphantly from innovation to maintenance. There is no point in keeping the practice of hero-worship that merely changes the cast of heroes without confronting some of the deeper problems underlying the innovation obsession.”