Michael Palm - "Technologies of Consumer Labor" - Jaafar Aksikas

Tuesday, March 5, 2019 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Michael Palm

"We all take our telephones for granted as mundane devices, but many will surely be won over by Palm’s argument that the telephone rather than the television is the triumphant consumer technology of the twentieth century. Palm crafts a spell-binding tale of how the telephone developed into what it is today, transforming from simply a conduit of voice communication to a site of women’s work, a site of emotional connection for the public, a site of the expansion of financial regimes, and a site of consumer labor. This brilliantly-written story is a must for students and scholars across a range of disciplines." ––Winnifred Poster, Washington University, USA

Michael Palm discusses Technologies of Consumer Labor: A History of Self-Service. He will be joined in conversation by Jaafar Aksikas. A Q&A and signing will follow the discussion.

At the Co-op

RSVP HERE (Please note that your RSVP is requested but not required.)

About the book: This book documents and examines the history of technology used by consumers to serve oneself. The telephone’s development as a self-service technology functions as the narrative spine, beginning with the advent of rotary dialing eliminating most operator services and transforming every local connection into an instance of self-service. Today, nearly a century later, consumers manipulate 0-9 keypads on a plethora of digital machines. Throughout the book, Palm employs a combination of historical, political-economic and cultural analysis to describe how the telephone keypad was absorbed into business models across media, retail and financial industries, as the interface on everyday machines including the ATM, cell phone and debit card reader. He argues that the naturalization of self-service telephony shaped consumers’ attitudes and expectations about digital technology.

About the author: Michael Palm is an Associate Professor of Media and Technology Studies in the Department of Communication at UNC-Chapel Hill and Affiliated Faculty in the Department of American Studies. His current book project presents vinyl records as a case study of cultural production after digitization. Informed by labor ethnography along records’ contemporary supply chain, the book connects the vinyl revival to contemporary concerns ranging from sustainability to gentrification. Palm’s recent articles have been published in the Journal of Popular Music Studies and Cultural Studies, and his book Technologies of Consumer Labor: A History of Self-Service was published by Routledge in 2017.

About the interlocutor: Dr. Jaafar Aksikas is Associate Professor of Cultural Studies and Humanities at Columbia College Chicago. He is also President of the Institute for Global Arab Media, Democracy and Culture and Chair of the Global Media and Democracy Association (GMDA). He is also Past President of the Cultural Studies Association (CSA) and current Editor of the Cultural Studies and Marxism Book Series. Dr. Aksikas has taught, researched, and published widely in the fields of Cultural Studies, critical ethnic studies, media and culture industry studies, critical legal and policy studies, American Studies, and Middle Eastern Studies, and has also served as consultant for lawyers and media on issues relating to Middle Eastern and North African cultures and politics.


Event Location: 
The Seminary Co-op Bookstore
5751 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637