Though digital “gadgets” have become one of the most important sectors of consumer electronics, the concept itself has been largely overlooked. This article traces the history of the gadget from its nineteenth-century origins as a placeholding name to its use for a class of technical objects, through to its incorporation of electronics and its contemporary success. Building upon Jean Baudrillard’s analysis, the article explores how digital technology has changed the gadget’s nature and capacities. It argues that the digital gadget’s success lies in its hyperfunctionality, hyperludic experience, and relationship with me-dia. It analyzes the digital gadget’s role in the reorientation of the broadcast ecology around personalized media worlds and experiences, arguing that its mode of play represents an integration of the life, activities, bodies, and attention of the individual that extends beyond that achieved by broadcast media


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pp. 1-20
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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