This article resituates the emergence of the first home video technologies during the 1960s and early 1970s within the context of contemporary debates over the state of American television. It traces the influence that cultural intermediaries—namely, the journalists who covered television for publications like the New York Times and Saturday Review—exerted on the cultural meanings of this nascent technology in this period. For a number of these critics, home video represented a potential technological solution to the aesthetic and moral shortcomings of American commercial television. Tracking these critics’ interventions in the negotiations over this new technology’s meanings and uses enriches our understanding of home video’s past. More importantly perhaps, it highlights some of the ways in which critics have historically mobilized their cultural capital to subtly shape the trajectory of technological change.
In this article the varying methods firms use to innovate are central in an attempt to balance our understanding of innovation processes. Often, research-driven innovation attracts the most attention, obscuring the contributions of other company functions and of external technology. In this article, three key parameters are used to distinguish methods of innovation: scope (of the technological work undertaken), localization (who was involved in the firm) and source of technology (whether internal or external). Firms choose a particular method under the influence of its broader innovation strategy. This framework is used to analyze innovation processes in the fertilizer business of the Dutch chemical company DSM in the period between 1925 and 1970. The example of DSM shows that firms have used different methods of innovation simultaneously, even in high-tech and competitive industries, and well into the twentieth century. To focus only on R&D gives a one-sided view of innovation.
This essay is a review of the recent literature on polar exploration, focusing closely on two books, S.A. Andrée: The Beginning of Polar Aviation, 1895–1897, by Günther Sollinger, and The Coldest Crucible: Arctic Exploration and American Culture, by Michael F. Robinson. While Robinson uses the public perception of American Arctic explorations to illuminate developments in the political and cultural history of the United States, Sollinger focuses on a single Arctic explorer, the Swede Salomon August Andrée, who tried to reach the North Pole by balloon in 1897. While the essay judges both books to be worthwhile contributions to the literature on polar exploration, it points out the fundamentally conservative approach of both studies, which reflects the field as a whole. Therefore, the essay concludes by calling for scholars of polar exploration to broaden their approach conceptually by engaging more actively with the literature in the history of travel and the history of technology.
A continuing dilemma of exhibition design is how to convey coherent content through a medium that is engaged in a unique and different way by each individual exhibition viewer. This dilemma is exacerbated by a lack of critical study of the exhibition design process and the lack of a rich critical literature of exhibition critiques, although in recent years there has been an increased interest in understanding the special nature of the medium of exhibitions. David Dernie’s Exhibition Design is a thoughtful addition to the critical literature of exhibition design in which he attempts to articulate several approaches to the use of exhibition space: “narrative space,” “performative space,” and “simulated experience.” His approaches are of special interest to designers of science and technology exhibitions. Dernie’s critical framework and his use of a large number of case studies provide a provocative addition to the literature of exhibition design.