Caetlin Benson-Allott is Assistant Professor of English at Georgetown University, USA. She is the author of Killer Tapes and Shattered Screens: Video Spectatorship from VHS to File Sharing (University of California Press, 2013) and of a column on film and new media in Film Quarterly.
While we all use remote controls, we understand little about their history or their impact on our daily lives. By emphasizing volume control, channel shifting, and multi-function management, they tell a story about our experience of mass media, culture, and domestic life. Remote controls reveal the deep impact electronics design has on our self-perception and world-view.
This book offers lively analyses of the remote control's material, literary, and cultural history to explain how such an innocuous media accessory can change the way we occupy our houses, interact with our families, and experience the world. From the first wired radio remotes of the 1920s to infrared universal remotes, from the homemade TV controllers to the Apple Remote, remote controls shape our media devices and how we live with them.
Table of contents:
Introduction: What a Mess!
Chapter 1: Changing Volume
Chapter 2: Switching Channels
Chapter 3: Comprehensive Control
Conclusion: Material Literacy