Den siste uken har jeg vært i Pittsburgh, USA, for å delta på Society for the History of Technology sin årlige konferanse (dette er femte året på rad jeg deltar). I år var det første gangen jeg presenterte materiale fra hytteprosjektet mitt – tidligere har jeg snakket om tomflasker og panteautomater, som jeg skrev om i doktoravhandlingen min. Selve presentasjonen min gikk svært bra – paperet het “Too close to nature? Dealing with leisure cabin sanitation technology, 1960-1980,” og handlet om den norske hyttedoens historie. Siden dette var en teknologihistoriekonferanse hadde jeg et spesielt fokus på hvordan problemstillinger knyttet til doen har ført til stadige tekniske oppgraderinger, men også hvordan det er en viss motstand blant enkelte hytteeiere mot for avanserte toaletter (mao. Gammeldassens Venner, etc.). Både temaet og bildene jeg brukte var jo litt mer juicy enn hva folk vanligvis ser på slike konferanser, så jeg fikk veldig god respons fra publikum. Og det er jo alltid gøy!

Og det som var enda mer gøy var å motta organisasjonens Samuel Eleazar and Rose Tartakow Levinson Prize for beste upubliserte essay for artikkelen “Simple Comforts: Technology, Convenience, and Simplicity in Norwegian Leisure Cabins, 1950-1980.” I artikkelen utforsker jeg forestillinger om teknologi og enkelhet i den norske hyttas historie. Artikkelen er nå til vurdering hos Technology and Culture, det ledende internasjonale tidsskriftet for teknologihistorie.

Her er i alle fall pris-komiteens omtale av artikkelen:

“In his essay, “Simple Comforts: Technology, Convenience, and Simplicity in Norwegian Leisure Cabins, 1950-1980,” Finn Arne Jørgensen traces the transformation of the hytte, a rustic cabin, from a worksite into a leisure home. As Jørgensen explains, this shift largely resulted from postwar Norwegian affluence. Between 1950 and 1980, this simple cabin, originally used as a workspace and shelter for lumberjacks and fishermen, became a second home for urbane Norwegians escaping the hustle and bustle of city life. Seen as a way to return to the Norwegian countryside, the hytte allowed owners to reconstruct prewar ideas of pastoralism and a rural nostalgia that both harkened to a simpler past and looked toward a more technological future. As Jørgensen explains, the shift from shelter to home took place in lockstep with other large technological transformations, including the construction of roads linking cities to remote rural and wilderness areas, widespread private car ownership, and the dissemination of water, sewerage, and electrical systems, largely by government fiat.

Perhaps Jørgensen’s most important contribution to the history of technology is that he allows the reader to rethink what “the simple life” meant in an era of affluence. He argues that “[r]ather than leaving technology behind, Norwegian postwar consumers integrated technology into their idea of hytte simplicity.” By examining technologies hytte owners regularly included in these structures, Jørgensen shows how simple technologies like outhouses and fireplaces were replaced by more intricate technological systems such as sewage disposals (including complex toilets), insulation and heating systems, and kitchens equipped with refrigerators, stoves, and fans. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Norwegians upgraded their cabins with technology that reduced the work required for everyday living and comfort. In short, this paper provides a window into those aspects of domestic life and labor that hytte owners sought to simplify by applying a range of technologies to reduce their workload, which in turn allowed them to enjoy their leisure time in ways reflective of their urban lifestyles and provided a far more comfortable dwelling than the hytte og previous generations.

By historicizing the hytte within an evolving technological landscape, Jørgensen bridges the histories of vernacular architecture and leisure through a technological lens providing new insights into both fields. Additionally, he illustrates how the history of technology can open new lines of questions for environmental history.”