Monthly Archives: April 2013

Defining catwalk technology

‘Catwalk technology’ is a phrase coined by myself and my colleague Anne Adams in June 2012 and mentioned in this THES article today (and a journal article we currently have in press). The phrase is a fashion design metaphor that refers to technological innovations that represent the most high-tech state-of-the-art and are not easily scalable to mass production or mass usage. These technologies may require special expertise or additional equipment or infrastructure for them to function. They may (although not necessarily) involve high costs. However, a catwalk design, like art, often seeks to change our concepts of an object and also how we interact with it. Catwalk fashions actively seek both to innovate in the materials used and in how they are used by the models. They also seek to change, rather than maintain, practice. A full discussion of the catwalk technology metaphor and its relationship to ‘prêt-à-porter’ (ready-to-wear) technology can be found in our forthcoming TOCHI paper, co-authored with Gary Priestnall from University of Nottingham. Please let me know what you think – we hope we are providing a useful language to promote future discussions – but there are many more conversations to be had around this phrase, not least of all how it might tie in to our ethical responsibilities as researchers and what legacy we might leave behind when we finish our particular ‘research interventions’!

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