When something breaks we often assume it needs to be replaced or taken to a store to be fixed. But what if we tried reusing, repairing, and repurposing it instead? That’s what Anne Goldenberg and her collaborators encouraged people to do at the Hardware Stories event: to find out how the things we use every day actually work, and to imagine all the different ways we could use them, take care of them, and use them to take care of each other. 


What kind of digital objects do you use at home? (Phones, computers, TVs, etc.) Choose one of these and do some research about it. Who designed it? Who manufactured it? Where was it made? What materials was it made from?

We often use the word technology to mean digital technology, but technology really just means “the practical use of scientific knowledge.” A glass of milk is a kind of technology; a zine is another kind of technology. From the word “magazine,” zines are a type of simple, radical, independent publication. They are a way to share ideas you care about, or to share knowledge and skills. Try making your own zine for a friend! Think of someone you miss a lot. Maybe they’ve been feeling lonely lately, or need help solving some kind of problem. What feelings, information or skills would you like to share with them? Once you have an idea of what you’d like to share, use this guide to make them a zine. 


Ask someone in your family about what kinds of technologies they used as a child. Did they use a computer? A typewriter? Ask them to talk about ways their life has changed since they started using a cellphone or another kind of common digital object. 

There are many ways to learn about objects. We can look at an object, we can describe it, we can try using it, we can take it apart. Sometimes even the way something breaks helps us to understand it. Take a big piece of paper and place it against an interesting object, then use the flat side of a pencil to cover over the object with graphite. What kind of shapes, patterns, and textures do you find? Is a TV really flat? Are phones closed or open objects? How different are a plant and a chair? You can also try touching the object with your eyes closed. What do you notice? Describe the shape, texture, and temperature. What else could this object be used for? What kind of future will this object have?


More from our files!

See photos from the Hardware Stories event, and learn more from Sophie Toupin’s presentation on the essential links between decolonization and digital technology. 


Each week, explore projects from our archives through two series of conversation starters and DIY experiments. Our series for families introduces projects which help us imagine new ways of being together and being at home during this period of physical distancing, with activities to try and questions to ask each other. Our series for the general public brings together projects from our archives which have explored various kinds of intimate ecologies, and prompts reflection and conversation to nourish our collective imagination.