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July 29th, 2013

Highlights of the Portland Meeting

SHOT 2013

Portland, Maine

10-13 October

A visit to Portland for SHOT 2013 offers even more than usual. In addition to the usual roster of excellent papers and presentations, this year’s program provides a number of opportunities for self-reflection and to join discussions about intellectual directions and organizational activities.

The process will be inaugurated by a presidential plenary Thursday evening that will frame the general discussion designed to run throughout the meeting and beyond. The primary structure for these discussions will be provided by presidential roundtables scheduled during every program session on Friday and Saturday. Some of these include, two that explore elements of the intellectual agenda of the field, focusing on topics that represent intersections to the wider arts and humanities, areas where historians of technology are finding exciting opportunities to both learn and contribute to emerging intellectual currents. A third roundtable will be devoted to the institutional and organizational challenges that face an organization like SHOT in an era of changing technological possibilities on a landscape that is ever-more international in scope. Still others take different forms.

A final session late on Saturday afternoon will pull together input from all of the roundtables, seeking to generate a list of action items for SHOT’s officers and Council going forward. With this conversation about the history of technology and SHOT in mind, I invite all of you to Portland for the 2013 annual meeting. This can be an important meeting for helping shape both our field and the organization.

At all sessions, we have asked presenters to develop ideas and circulate them prior to the meeting so that the sessions can be devoted as much as possible to interactive discussion about where the history of technology is, where it should be going, and how SHOT can help members engaged in those pursuits. We also will facilitate social media discussions before, during, and after the meeting as a means of securing as much input and as many ideas as possible.

More than a Meeting

Maine: forests, rivers, seacoast, lobsters, mosquitoes, moose. Maine consists of small towns, and some people have described Portland with its 66,000 inhabitants, as a big town, not a small city. Portland’s architecture, personality, style, funkiness, and intimacy make it a wonderful venue for the annual meeting. The downtown area, where most of our activities and the meeting will be held, is essentially a peninsula with a ridge running through the center. To the “east” down the ridge you approach the commercial district and the working waterfront, to the west – the arts district. Everything is walking distance; some cobblestone streets remain. The result is a quaint New England city, yet with the edginess of the working waterfront always nearby. Today, people come to Portland for its foodie culture – wonderful, fresh cuisine, usually based on seafood – and for its microbreweries.  Maine is fifth among all states in microbreweries per capita, with a total of 31 breweries – or one brewery for every 42,850 people.

Most important, wander along the working waterfront. Through the efforts of town mothers and fathers, fishermen and others to keep fisherman, their vessels, the wharfs, processors, and wholesalers healthy, Portland has preserved affordable berths for working vessels, with workspace and warehouses. The state offers grants to assist in purchasing of properties dedicated to commercial fishing.

Hopefully, leaves will be peak when you come to Portland, so check the state’s Fall Foliage Website, get your camera, open your gullet, give up dietary restrictions for a few days, and visit an intimate, gorgeous city with a working waterfront.

SHOT thanks President Bro Adams of Colby College,for generously donating to the SHOT meeting – as part of Colby’s 200th anniversary. The Society is also indebted to Paul Josephson, head of the local organizing committee, and his STS colleagues at Colby College, Jim Fleming and Lenny Reich, as well as Howard Segal (University of Maine) and Rebecca Herzig (Bates College).

See you in Portland!

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