The noble but undervalued craft of maintenance could help preserve modernity’s finest achievements, from public transit systems to power grids, and serve as a useful framework for addressing climate change and other pressing planetary constraints.
Maintenance isn’t a program. It’s a practice. Melvin Kranzberg, the former president of the Society for the History of Technology, once wrote that “technology is neither good nor bad, nor is it neutral,” which is to say that its value is always contingent, even as certain technologies have their own internal logic that must be accounted for. The same goes for maintenance or sustainability, or any mental framework. Climate change and resource scarcity are real phenomena, but they must be addressed in the full context of other social aims, such as a given standard of living — or in the case of maintenance, a state of repair