Assistant Professor Mara Mills is the recipient of the Walter Benjamin Award for Outstanding Article in the Field of Media Ecology. The Media Ecology Association (MEA) announced the news at its fourteenth annual convention in Grand Rapids, Michigan on June 23.
Mills was selected for her article Hearing Aids and the History of Electronics Miniaturization, published in the 2011 journal of the IEEE Annals of the History of Computing. In the piece, Mills identifies the hearing aid as an example of an early personal and portable microelectronic device, one that opened up the field for similar commodities in the latter half of the 20th century.
"Before the personal computer or other personal electronics were obvious commodities—and before reliable production techniques had made miniaturization economical—hearing aids incubated the technique and the ‘‘philosophy’’ of miniaturization. Hearing aids were always ‘‘personal’’—tools for daily life that were carried on the body and intimate to an individual user," writes Mills.