Maintainers. Keeping Technology Working at Least Some of the Time. Logos for Educopia Institute and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation


2018-2019

The Maintainers (subcontract)

Many groups and individuals today celebrate “innovation.” The notion is influential not only in engineering and business, but also in the social sciences, arts, and humanities. For example, “innovation” has become a staple of analysis in popular histories – such as Walter Isaacson’s recent book, The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution.

The Maintainers is a global, interdisciplinary research network that takes a different approach, one whose conceptual starting point was a playful proposal for a counter-volume to Isaacson’s that could be titled The Maintainers: How a Group of Bureaucrats, Standards Engineers, and Introverts Made Technologies That Kind of Work Most of the Time. Network members come from a variety of fields, including academic historians and social scientists, as well as artists, activists, engineers, and business leaders.  All share an interest in the concepts of maintenance, infrastructure, repair, and the myriad forms of labor and expertise that sustain our human-built world.

With generous funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (see blog post), the Maintainers plan to build our capacity to create and nurture communities that connect scholarly research and practical applications. The primary focus of this grant period will be something called the Maintenance Community Framework, through which we’ll study the state of maintenance in individual sectors and professions, and document and disseminate best practices and lessons learned.

As a partner on the project, Educopia will provide staff support and community cultivation services to help further grow The Maintainers network. To learn more about the Maintainer, visit the official project website: http://themaintainers.org/