Your Obedient Servant: The History of the Handheld Navigational Device

Date: 

Thursday, October 1, 2015, 6:00pm

Location: 

Science Center (Hall A), 1 Oxford St, Cambridge, MA 02138

Your Obedient Servant

Public lecture with Joyce E. Chaplin, James Duncan Phillips Professor of Early American History and Chair, Program in American Studies, Harvard University

Handheld devices that can provide an exact location with a click, tap, or swipe have become ubiquitous. The brand and cost of these devices often contribute to the owner’s perceived social standing, and the ultimate status symbols are increasingly devices that are worn, not held, such as Google Glass™ and the Apple Watch®. There is historical precedent for this: in the past, only low-ranking people held instruments in their hands. Highborn individuals and navigators would have other people carry their instruments unless they could attach them to their bodies, as with eyeglasses or wristwatches. Joyce Chaplin will discuss the historical connections between handheld devices and social status, and the impact of people becoming the self-navigating holders of their own devices.

Free and open to the public.

The Science Center is located at 1 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA.

Free event parking available at the 52 Oxford Street Garage.

Finding Our Way: An Exploration of Human Navigation, an exhibition at the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, will be open following the lecture until 9:00 pm.