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#434 The Maintainers: Building the Movement for Maintenance Thinking & Action


Jessica Meyerson
Andrew Russell, Dean, College of Arts & Sciences, SUNY Polytechnic Institute
Lee Vinsel

Founded in 2016, The Maintainers is a global research network interested in the concepts of maintenance, infrastructure, repair, and the myriad forms of labor and expertise that sustain the human-built world. Their members come from a variety of backgrounds, including engineers and business leaders, academic historians and social scientists, government and non-profit agencies, artists, activists, coders, and more. Through collaborative efforts across an interwoven network of communities, the Maintainers pursue their mission of maintaining self and society through reflection, research, and advocacy in the hopes of achieving a more caring and well-maintained world. Their past activities include three conferences (in 2016, 2017, and 2019); a series of virtual events in 2020; and publications by its members, including a white paper by the Information Maintainers titled “Information Maintenance as a Practice of Care” (2019), and a book by Lee Vinsel and Andrew Russell, The Innovation Delusion: How Our Obsession with the New Has Disrupted the Work That Matters Most (2020).

In this presentation, Maintainers co-directors Jessica Meyerson, Andrew Russell, and Lee Vinsel will discuss three important facets of the work of the Maintainers. The first portion deals with the problems of what we call “innovation-speak,” which consists of buzzwords and jargon that promote innovation as a cure for any problem. The second portion introduces the notion of the “maintenance mindset,” which is grounded in the values of care, repair, sustainability, and long-term thinking. Finally, we will discuss how the Maintainers are helping to build a movement for maintenance thinking and action through a community-based approach.

ASL This event will not have an American Sign Language interpreter.