Historian, educator, and writer. Keith Haring Foundation, New York, NY, founding director, 1989—; Columbia University, New York, NY, visiting scholar in the department of history. Has held research fellowships at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, Germany; Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, Germany; the Gallery of Research, Austrian Academy of Science, Vienna, Austria; and at the Smithsonian Institution for both the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation and the National Museum of American History, Washington, DC.
IEEE Life Members' Prize in Electrical History, Society for the History of Technology, 2003, for article titled "The ‘Freer Men’ of Ham Radio: How a Technical Hobby Provided Social and Spatial Distance," which is included in Ham Radio's Technical Culture.
Ham Radio's Technical Culture, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 2007.
Contributor to periodicals.
Kristen Haring is a historian of science and technology whose work focuses on communication technologies, with particular attention to questions concerning identity, culture, and design. She is also author of Ham Radio's Technical Culture, which examines the phenomenon of why so many men adopted the technical hobby of building and using ham radios from the 1930s through the 1970s and how the pastime helped them form identity and community. Nina C. Ayoub, writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, noted that the author "shows how hams, primarily male, white, and middle class, developed protocols that extended the regimentation of a hobby already under government supervision—only after passing exams on electronics and Morse code was one granted a license and call sign by the Federal Communications Commission."
While Haring goes into the technical lore of ham radio, which required solitary tinkering with sophisticated electronics equipment, she also examines how the potentially isolating hobby thrived on fraternal interaction as on-air conversations grew into friendships. Clubs were formed to have regular face-to-face meetings, and a specific technical culture was developed. Drawing on personal accounts found in radio magazines and newsletters, from technical manuals and journals, and from government documents, the author examines the impact that ham radio had on these hobbyists' lives, from suspicion emanating from neighbors and friends concerning their constant contact with foreigners, to the impact their hobbies had on their family lives. She also details the role that ham radio operators played in military and civil defense during World War II and the Cold War. In addition, the author discusses ham radio hobbyists in relation to other technical hobbyists, such as people who focused their energies on the new high-fidelity audio of the 1950s and 1960s or photography. With these comparisons, Haring examines how technical hobbyists influenced the general public's attitudes toward technology.
Commenting on Haring's analysis of the impact of ham radio on home life, American Scientist contributor David Schneider commented that she "points out that the fundamental activity of these hobbyists—idle chatter—was something stereotypically associated with women, making this largely male group very self-conscious." Calling Ham Radio's Technical Culture a "a valentine to the ham radio community," Michele Hilmes went on to write in her review in the Wilson Quarterly: "Haring … takes an anthropological approach to ham radio culture that reflects the concerns and values of its denizens while acknowledging the realities of its male-dominated culture."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Scientist, May-June, 2007, David Schneider, review of Ham Radio's Technical Culture, p. 280.
Chronicle of Higher Education, February 16, 2007, Nina C. Ayoub, review of Ham Radio's Technical Culture.
Technology and Culture, October, 2007, Douglas Craig, review of Ham Radio's Technical Culture, p. 901.
Wilson Quarterly, winter, 2007, Michele Hilmes, "Still on the Radio," review of Ham Radio's Technical Culture, p. 103.
Akademie Schloss Solitude Web site,http://www.akademie-solitude.de/ (February 26, 2008), profile of author.