Evolution of Technology

TEC 154
Grinnell College
Spring 2009
MWF 8-8:50, Science 3821
Instructor: Janet Davis (contacting me)


About this course

Welcome to the spring 2009 session of TEC 154, Evolution 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!

As the semester progresses, we will consider technologies from canals, bridges, and the printing press to biotechnology, nanotechnology, and digital art.  However, rather than surveying the full history of technology, we will reflect on some particular technologies, their design, their context, and their effects.  To learn about some of these technologies, we will rely on several guest lecturers 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:

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 use technology.

Course texts

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:

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.

Janet Davis (davisjan@cs.grinnell.edu)

Created January 12, 2009
Last revised January 20, 2009