MWF 8-8:50, Science 3821
Davis (contacting me)
- January 18: Welcome! Our textbooks are for sale at the bookstore. You will need Tenner's Why Things Bite Back
starting this week. Don't be alarmed by the small number of textbooks;
we will be reading a number of articles online and on eReserve.
Welcome to the spring 2009 session of TEC
of Technology. As my own work revolves around considering
the context and
implications of information technology, I am very excited to be
teaching this course!
the semester progresses, we will consider technologies from canals,
bridges, and the printing press to biotechnology, nanotechnology, and
digital art. However, rather than
the full history of technology, we will reflect on some particular
technologies, their design, their context, and their effects.
learn about some of these technologies, we will rely on several guest
from around the campus. To develop a framework for considering these
technologies, we will also engage with a variety of contemporary
perspectives on technology.
We'll consider questions
such as the following:
- What is technology?
- What forces drive invention and engineering?
- Does technology control us? To what extent does the design of
technology determine its effects?
- How can we
anticipate and assess the effects of new technologies? How can we fail to predict the effects of new technologies?
- What is the role of technology across academic disciplines and walks of life?
- Does improved technology always mean progress?
- How can we make choices about technology?
Is this course for me?
Yes! Seriously, you don't need to be a scientist or engineer to get
something out of this course. The study of technology engages a variety
of perspectives, not only technical, but also social and humanist.
We all interact with technology on a daily basis---even those who try
not to. Some of the most important questions about how we ought to
live, as individuals and as a society, are tied up in how we design and
I have assigned four textbooks for this course:
If you have already visited the bookstore, you may have noticed that
none of these are anthologies or collections. To supplement these
books, we will read a number of articles and book chapters by other
authors whom you may or may not have heard of:
- Edward Tenner, Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences. Vintage Books, 1996.
- Henry Petroski, To Engineer is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design. Vintage Books, 1992.
- John H. Lienhard, How Invention Begins: Echoes of Old Voices in the Rise of New Machines. Oxford University Press, 2006.
- Ronald Wright, A Short History of Progress. Da Capo Press, 2005.
- Wendell Berry
- John Seeley Brown & Paul Duguid
- Samuel C. Florman
- Rich Gold
- Bill Joy
- Donald B. Kraybill
- Bruno Latour
- Leo Marx
- David E. Nye
- Wanda Orlikowski
- Alvin M. Weinberg
- Langdon Winner
- ... and many authors selected by our guest lecturers.
One thing you may have noticed is that nearly all of these authors are male. I noticed this myself a week before classes
started, and as a feminist technology designer, I find it a bit troubling. If you happen to encounter
articles by female authors that you would recommend for future
iterations of the class, please let me know.
If you are intrigued (or already signed up), browse the course schedule and mechanics.
Created January 12, 2009
Last revised January 20, 2009