Reading Response

Original Reading Response for Unit 1

Looking at “A Terminal Condition: The Cathode Ray Tube’s Strange Afterlife” through the eyes of the introduction to “Essays in Material Culture” allows one to see more of the cultural significance of the CRT technology.  The CRT has a long history filled with many cultural milestones.  People were buying CRT TVs before there was anything on, showing that at that time in American culture, people liked to follow trends just as they do now.  The CRT caused trouble in scientific communities to prove that it was real and then caused trouble due to what it could do to the human body.  CRT screens showed many parts of cultures that changed over the years.  It also represents a different time than now, with older technology that was cutting edge at the time but is now obsolete.  Through Prownian analysis, one can see that the cathode ray tube was an important object in American culture, though it has kind of been replaced, though it is getting harder to truly get rid of it due to what it contains.  It is an object of history that will never truly go away, as it is hard to find a way to get rid of it with creating a different long lasting impact.

New Reading Response for Unit 1 after more analysis


This activity was challenging as it required a gaining of an understanding of both texts while also requiring flexibility to see both texts in a new light when seen through the lens of the other text.  It is harder to draw connections to two things that do not seem very similar at first but over time I was able to see how the texts were similar but also how they were different.  It was also hard to not just go into a tech nerd mode of trying to figure out more how CRTs work and instead trying to look at CRTs as a piece of material culture that shows a part of human culture.  As an engineering student, I would rather see how to improve technology based on how people interacted with it than try to find how they imparted culture onto the technology.


“A Terminal Condition: The Cathode Ray Tube’s Strange Afterlife” is about the history, impact, and future of the Cathode Ray Tube screen.  It describes a technology that has an interesting polarity as defined in the “Essays in Material Culture” introduction.  The screens allowed for humans to see what computers were doing but the way that the tube’s worked could not be seen as they use vacuum which humans cannot see.  The article describes how the CRT gained in popularity in homes through the promise of what tv could do which helped make it even more popular.  It eventually became part of what was imagined to be a normal American household from the time they came onto the scene to the time when they started to get replaced by better and safer technology.  CRT screens became an important part of the house and so it got connected to the culture of home life at the time.  It was also a part of the culture of the growing use of computers.  The CRT screen is linked to both the cultures of an early electronic entertainment system for the family and to the early culture of computer work for desk jobs and engineers alike.

Reading Response for Unit 2


Made by Moon Raven Designs

This set of readings was interesting as it was easy to see some of the connections made between creating a sign and multimodality.  In fact, most of the article is about deciding what modes to use to create a sign that gives an effective warning message.  It was interesting seeing the modes considered given that the current symbol for nuclear waste is being used in ways not intended, like posters and the necklace above.  I found it hard not to be redundant, as many of the points can be used in multiple areas and are mostly tied together.  From “What are Multimodal Projects?” I learned about different items that can be considered texts and how different modes can be used separately and together to create effective messages.  From “Talking to the Future” I learned about the efforts to create a multimodal project in the form of a sign to warn people that we do not know how they will communicate.  It was interesting to think of ways that these reading can be used to impart messages even in engineering circles.


The article “Talking to the Future — Hey There’s Nuclear Waste Buried here” is about deciding if there should be signs for nuclear waste and if so, what should they have on them.  The article talks about the fact that people ignore the signs now while they are still relevant and it seems that many are worried that a society in the future will have no idea what the symbols or language mean.  The article ends with thinking about the fact that it has been simulated that drilling in a place with nuclear waste does not cause many problems.  The article also said that if society has already changed so much that it can not recognize present-day signs, that there are probably more important things to worry about than nuclear waste that has probably started to decay into less harmful material.