When Doors are Removed for Our Own Safety: A Historical Case Study of the ‘Failed’ "Question Mark" Telephone Booth

Publikation: Konferencebidrag uden forlag/tidsskriftKonferenceabstrakt til konferenceForskningpeer review

Abstract

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are often understood as increasingly private and personalized. From reading the national newspaper to the individualized Facebook timeline; from talking on the shared household landline telephone to the personal smartphone. However, a historical case of the 'failed' telephone booth The Question Mark complicates this narrative of increased access to private ICTs.
The telephone booth held an important position in 20th century public infrastructure as part of everyday life communication routines as well as situations of emergency. Sparked by a 1980 design competition for a new telephone booth for Copenhagen, however, a new communication space emerged through a controversy that mobilized new publics and issues. These publics and issues related to terrorism, disability and design, but excluded other users and concerns. Through the case, we see the making of a new public communicative sociability, as devices were designed for safety and accessibility rather than comfort and privacy.
The case study is based on archival material and interviews with involved actors, and contributes to architectural theory's recent involvement with ANT and controversy mapping (Yaneva, 2012). By suggesting we open the 'black box' of a failed design, this presentation also draws on a familiar schema in STS. I argue that such continued engagement with matters of the past is a cornerstone of STS' efforts to 'expose sources of uncertainty and contingency that are hidden by the successful genesis, stabilization and dissemination of facts and artefacts' (Lynch, 1998).
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Detaljer

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are often understood as increasingly private and personalized. From reading the national newspaper to the individualized Facebook timeline; from talking on the shared household landline telephone to the personal smartphone. However, a historical case of the 'failed' telephone booth The Question Mark complicates this narrative of increased access to private ICTs.
The telephone booth held an important position in 20th century public infrastructure as part of everyday life communication routines as well as situations of emergency. Sparked by a 1980 design competition for a new telephone booth for Copenhagen, however, a new communication space emerged through a controversy that mobilized new publics and issues. These publics and issues related to terrorism, disability and design, but excluded other users and concerns. Through the case, we see the making of a new public communicative sociability, as devices were designed for safety and accessibility rather than comfort and privacy.
The case study is based on archival material and interviews with involved actors, and contributes to architectural theory's recent involvement with ANT and controversy mapping (Yaneva, 2012). By suggesting we open the 'black box' of a failed design, this presentation also draws on a familiar schema in STS. I argue that such continued engagement with matters of the past is a cornerstone of STS' efforts to 'expose sources of uncertainty and contingency that are hidden by the successful genesis, stabilization and dissemination of facts and artefacts' (Lynch, 1998).
OriginalsprogEngelsk
Publikationsdato30 aug. 2017
StatusUdgivet - 30 aug. 2017
PublikationsartForskning
Peer reviewJa
Begivenhed4S: STS (In)Sensibilities - Sheraton Boston, Boston, USA
Varighed: 28 aug. 20172 sep. 2017

Konference

Konference4S: STS (In)Sensibilities
LokationSheraton Boston
LandUSA
ByBoston
Periode28/08/201702/09/2017

    Forskningsområder

  • Telecommunications, Telephone booth, STS, ANT, History of technology

Kort

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