I have been taking a look at the advice that is given in the product manuals and instruction booklets that have traditionally been supplied with products when they are sold.
There are website that offer catalogues of manuals for everything from washing machines to remote controls. I have only just begun this work, but there are some interesting things to note from the few that I have examined so far.
I have found an online copy of the Eastman Kodak manual for a No. 2 Brownie camera from the 1920s. It was supplied with the camera and is written in the most fantastic language. The manual provides lots of advice and information on using the camera and taking good photographs. The product was very simple and needed little maintenance, even so there was a small section in the book relating to caring for the device.
This is simple advice that would help keep the camera in good working order. It is interesting that there are illustrations that show the impact on the users photographs of not following the instructions.
At the beginning of the manual there was an offer for a free magazine that would be sent to owners who sent in a card ‘promptly’ and ‘properly filled out’. This publication offers advice on photography an could be seen as the equivalent to a modern day website that serves the same function.
Examining the development of the care instructions over time might give an insight into the development of products (do they require more or less maintenance?) and the nature of the advice that is given. There is such a wealth of material and so many different product categories to explore, I feel I need to develop a strategy to tackle this efficiently.