MWF 8-8:50, Science 3821
Davis (contacting me)
- January 21: Welcome! Our textbooks are for sale at the bookstore. You will need Arthur's The Nature of Technology starting this coming week; see the schedule for more information on assigned readings.
Welcome to the spring 2011 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 stone tools,
bridges, and the printing press to biotechnology. 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
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 books for this course:
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:
- W. Brian Arthur, The Nature of Technology: What It Is and How It Evolves. Free Press, 2009.
- John H. Lienhard, How Invention Begins: Echoes of Old Voices in the Rise of New Machines. Oxford University Press, 2006.
- Henry Petroski, To Engineer is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design. Vintage Books, 1992.
- Jennifer Daryl Slack + J. Macgregor Wise, Culture + Technology, Peter Lang Publishing, 2005.
- Ruth Schwartz Cowan
- Bill Joy
- Donald B. Kraybill
- Robert L. Heilbroner
- Leo Marx
- David E. Nye
- Robert Pool
- Judy Wajcman
- Alvin M. Weinberg
- Langdon Winner
- ... and many authors selected by our guest lecturers.
If you are intrigued (or already signed up), browse the course schedule and syllabus.
Created January 12, 2009
Last revised January 20, 2011