Additional Supporting Materials
Pasadena, SHOT October 1997, .ppt slides Slides from PI's presentation at SHOT 1997 website launch event;
other speakers included:
Clay McShane, Northeastern University, Department of History
Gijs Mom, Technical University of Eindhoven
Matthew Roth, Automobile Club of Southern California
Michael Schiffer, University of Arizona, Department of Anthropology
Baltimore, SHOT October 1998, .ppt slides Slides from PI's joint presentation with Jim Sparrow on STIM and the practice of the history of recent science and technology.
George Mason, April 1999, .ppt slides
Slides from presentation to 2nd and 3rd round Sloan recipients at planning workshop.
UCLA/ GSLIS Seminar, May 1999, .ppt slides
Slides Sloan Conference, August 1999, .ppt slides
Society of Automotive Historians, March 2000, abstract
Abstract of paper to be delivered at forthcoming meeting of the Society of Automotive Historians, Los Angeles, March 11, 2000.
"Users as Innovators: 'EVonline' as a Recursive Study"
This paper presents the results of research conducted via an experimental website designed to collect information about users of a new automotive technology, the electric vehicle. Specifically, owners and drivers of electric vehicles were invited to visit the experimental website - called EVonline ( - to share their experiences and participate in an online survey about themselves, their cars, and their communities. The overall aim of the study was to identify and interact with this community of drivers, to provide a repository for their operating knowledge and experience, and to establish baseline data about their vehicles and mobility patterns, all in advance of expected changes in the availability of new transportation technologies for the consumer mass market.
Set against the backdrop of the 30-year effort to reintroduce the electric vehicle to the mainstream automotive marketplace, the study suggests the emergence of two distinct cultures of technology, embodied in different norms and assumptions about the value and success of the electric vehicle. On the one hand, secondary literature, Congressional hearings and other pieces of the public record readily illuminate the view of the established automobile manufacturers: For these large companies, the electric vehicle was filled with technical promise, but always hobbled by its dependence upon traditional and presumptively inadequate battery technology. The electric vehicle was always "the car of tomorrow," but never the car of today. Meanwhile, where the established manufacturers saw failure, the actual owners and drivers of electric vehicles have found success, virtue and profound satisfaction.
The paper concludes with the remarkable paradox of General Motors EV1. In this instance, the two cultures produce widely differing views of the same technology. Within the manufacturing culture, EV1 has been, at best, a disappointment and, at worst, an abject failure. But the EVonline survey data show that EV1 drivers believe the car is a great success, with at least one leaseholder claiming that General Motors will have to "DRAG ME OUT KICKING & SCREAMING [sic]" when the lease is up.