BLOG POST: The Misguided Archaeologist
Part I. First, find a piece of old communication technology that you don't want. Good junk might come from the closet, the Goodwill store, or by asking friends. Choose something of little value like an old or broken consumer product. Feel free to be creative about what counts as a "communication technology" -- use the broadest definition given in Ch. 8 of Culture & Technology, but be sure you settle on an object. State what you chose in your blog entry.
Part II. Next, pretend you are a misguided archaeologist who has discovered a piece of technology from another civilization. That is, pretend that you have never seen this object before and you have only vague ideas about what it might be used for. Carefully examine the technology and write up your notes in your blog entry. Take your technology apart (if possible) as part of your examination. Include one or more photographs in your entry to illustrate your investigation.
Part III. Finally, in your write up, make a misguided guess about what this device might do for the civilization that invented it. "Misguided" means: for fun, you do not need to make the obvious (or correct) conclusion -- e.g., cell phones are for telephoning. Use a quotation or concept from the second Berkun chapter (Myth: People Love New Ideas) to justify your misguided guess about the technology. For instance, you might use Rogers' five factors that explain innovation.
Post an answer of at least 300 words to your blog. DEADLINE: 11 a.m. -- one hour before class begins. Important notes:
Due on February 18, 2009.
- To receive full credit, your reference to the reading must demonstrate that you understand what you are quoting -- be sure you include enough detail. (For instance, you might discuss two theories about your device and then decide one is correct and explain why, or you could discuss how some of the things you see inside the device (reference your photos) relate to the concepts you use.
- Your "misguided guess" only has to be based on your examination of the object, it does not have to be correct.
- This assignment is meant to be fun, but please use good judgment at all times.
- Do not take something owned by someone else without permission.
- In the past, some students have used force to break their device open, but you may only do this if it can be done safely and you clean up the mess.
This is the Web site for SPCM 199, Communication Technology and Society, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.