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From Capacitor to Transistor: Embarking on the Next Phase for Circuits of Practice

From Capacitor to Transistor: Embarking on the Next Phase for Circuits of Practice

Computer Circuitry (photo credit: PD

Our research project takes its inspiration from the electronic circuit typically found in computer technology. Just as computer circuits provide electrical connections between diverse components enabling complex operations to be performed, our aim is to establish a system of collaboration between museum-based and university-based researchers. Our project name “Circuits of Practice” is a play on this metaphor.

The electronic circuit metaphor also gave inspiration during the framing of our research timeline and structure. The initial five months was our preparatory phase, which we formally referred to as the Capacitor Phase. While capacitor stores electrical energy in an electric field, Circuits of Practice gathered the resources needed for a successful research project. We have been building our literature review through a small reading group that we have affectionately referred to as ‘Book Club.’ (We will talk about in more detail in a future posts.) More importantly, we assembled the infostructure needed for our field work phase, which began in October. 

Just as transistors can be used to amplify electronic signals and electrical power, our ‘transistor’ phase was originally supposed to consist of full-day workshop on site with each of our UK partner museums to engage with the main research themes and strengthen and further develop our understanding. Unfortunately, due the pandemic restrictions, our initial plans were not to be.  

Rather than full day workshops, we have formed a series of two-hour online workshop to be conducted that will: 

•    REFLECT upon the key concepts supporting this investigation  

•    READ how these concepts are manifest (or are a way of understanding) the museums’ existing provision;  

•    RESPOND to these insights by identifying actionable outcomes for the future display of computing history at each site. 

We have broken into small groups (aka the Circuits) consisting of the university-based Research Team (The PI Simone Natale, co-I Ross Parry and RA Petrina Foti), two Partner Museums and one International Partner Museum. Each Circuit will be led by a different member of the Research Team and have their own dedicated workshop series. 

The first two phases of these workshops have just occurred and we look forward to sharing more about them in the near future.