Technological change is concerned with the impact of technology on people in urban environments. Rapid and significant technological change has had a direct and immediate impact on families and individuals within the context of neighborhood and community. Technological change has had a particular impact on the ways in which people communicate with one another. Social media allows individuals and communities that are widely dispersed to join with others across the city, across the country, and around the world to organize events, build protest movements, or support a wide range of activities. Communications technology also permits families separated by long distances—through immigration, for example—to talk with friends and family in their home towns, and even to see them by means of web cams. Cities, neighborhoods, communities, and families are the venues where this history is being made and experienced on a day-to-day basis.
ACM has a small collection of artifacts in its permanent collection relevant to technological change. Much of these collections stem from research done in preparation for an ACM exhibition, The Real McCoy: African American Invention and Innovation, 1619-1930. The Real McCoy focused on early African American inventors and their impact on technological innovation. The exhibit also looked at the process of technological change, the emergence of the U.S. Patent Office, and innovations created by enslaved African Americans.
Defined broadly, technological change is also concerned with the role of community museums in urban environments. Our research under this rubric imagines the ways in which communities use and are shaped by emerging and prevailing technologies of such institutions. Moreover, we use this conceptual space to examine our role as an early community museum and what it means for a community to choose a museum as the technology for creating, saving and displaying it’s own history, heritage and culture.
This section also includes an examination of the built environment in the Washington, D.C. metro area, and within that area of focus begins with a discussion of the social and spatial impact of the Civil War on Washington, D.C.