Overload: Switchboard Automation and the Disability History of Os and 1s

  • Friday, November 12, 2021 • 4:00 pm
  • Umrath Hall, Room 1 40

This talk considers the early history of digital labor and automation through a focus on the telephone switchboard. Labor historians suggest that operator management issues as much as technical innovation drove switchboard automation after 1913, when the Bell Telephone System consolidated its power as a legally sanctioned monopoly.

Mara Mills is Associate Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University with expertise in sound studies, disability studies, business history, the history of electronics, and the history of the telephone. Her book Hearing Loss and the History of Information Theory is forthcoming from Duke University Press. Mills is currently working on the history of optical character recognition and, with Jonathan Sterne, she is co-authoring a book titled Tuning Time: Histories of Sound and Speed. She has published articles in Technology & CultureIEEE Annals of the History of ComputingGrey RoomdifferencesSocial Text, and PMLA, among many other academic journals.

For more information visit: https://pad.wustl.edu/events/overload-switchboard-automation-and-disability-history-0s-and-1s?d=2021-11-12

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