Bibliography from Professor Michael Guenther's Course "The Hidden Life of Technology" (parts 1 and 2)
The Hidden Life of Technology --Part 1 Suggested Readings *(GC) indicates that Grinnell College’s library has a copy of the work. *(DL) indicates that a copy is available at the Drake Library (either in print, e-book, or audiobook form) Overviews I think the work of James Burke (a British historian & broadcaster) provides one of the best entrees into exploring the world of technology (in all its richness, complexity, and surprises). James Burke, Connections: An Alternative View of Change (1978; 10 parts documentary series, BBC & PBS). This popular documentary series explores how technology shaped the history of the world, and the unexpected “connections” that linked developments in one area to changes in another. You can watch the series online at the Internet Archive (a non-profit organization that archives radio, film, television and print material with the permission of the creators): https://archive.org/details/ConnectionsByJamesBurke Burke also released a book version of the television series(also titled Creation [GC]), and created 2 subsequent series of Connections in the 1990s (also available at the InternetArchive link) . Burke was a master storyteller, who used the lastest, detailed research in the history of technology to create engaging and provocative stories about our relationship to technology over centuries. Burke, The Pinball Effect: How Renaissance Water Gardens Made the Carburetor Possible, and other Journeys through Knowledge (1996) (GC) Burke, The Axemaker’s Gift: Technology’s Capture and Control of Our Minds and Culture (1997) (GC) Burke, Circles: Fifty Round Trips Through History, Technology, Science, Culture (2003) (GC) More recently, Steven Johnson has been creating books and television series that explore many of these themes. His earlier works tended to focus a bit more on the history of science, but I will mention them in case of some of you might be interested (my students often say that their favorite readings in a semester are those from Steven Johnson): The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic; and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World (GC, DL), tells the story of London’s cholera outbreaks and how Dr. John Snow used mapping techniques to figure out the cause of the epidemic. The Invention of Air: A Story of Science, Terror, and the Birth of America (GD, DL) follows the story of Joseph Priestly, the British scientist and radical reformer, as he explored the world of carbon dioxide, oxygen, and political revolutions. In terms of technology (more specifically), you might enjoy: Steven Johnson How We Got to Now: Six Innovation that Made the Modern World (2014; 6-part documentary series, PBS) (book version available at GC & DL) Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation (2010) (GC, DL)
Johnson, Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World (2016) (GC, DL) David Nye, Technology Matters: Questions to Live With (2007) Nye is one of the most prolific historians of technology. And in this book, he uses his vast knowledge of the field to write very short, but engaging, chapters that explores how scholars and public intellectuals have tackled a particular questions surrounding technology (such as: does technology lead to more or less work?, does technology make our world safer or more risky?, does technology improve or threaten the environment?, etc.). The book is organized into 8 short chapters (about 15-20 pages each) that explores one such question. (GC, also available online at: https://polifilosofie.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/technology-matters-questions-to-live-with-david-e-nye.pdf George Basalla, The Evolution of Technology (1988) (GC) Although an academic text, Basalla’s book is brimming with examples and insights about the evolution of technology and the various factors (from psychology to social and economic to military) that shape technology in different times and cultures. W. Brian Arthur, The Nature of Technology: What it is and How it Evolves (2009) (GC) A bit more theoretical/philosophical than Basalla (although published by a popular, trade press), Arthur’s book lays out a sweeping model for understanding how technology evolves, and the social and economic consequences of this evolution. Session 1: Rethinking our Standard Conception of Technology Leo Marx, “Technology: The Emergence of a Hazardous Concept,” Technology and Culture vol. 51 (2010), 561-77. available at: http://faculty.georgetown.edu/irvinem/theory/Marx-TC-2010-51.pdf Marx explains how our modern conception of “technology”—and the very word itself—emerged at the turn of the 20th century in response to a desire to associate technology with the emerging world of science, engineering, and industrialization (rather than the traditional world of mechanics, tinkerers, and everyday artifacts). Thomas Misa, Leonardo to the Internet: Technology and Culture from the Renaissance to the Present (2011) (GC) Misa’s book provides a sweeping account of the history of technology, but what makes it particularly interesting is that he organizes the past into particular periods, exploring how people at that time period understood the nature and purpose of technology, and how this particular understanding shaped the kind of technology they produced and valued. David Edgerton, The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History since 1900 (2011) (GC) What would a history of technology look like if it focused on everyday things, rather than shiny, new technologies; if it focused on how people use objects, rather than who invented them; of if it tried to focus on broad swaths of the world rather than just the industrial West? Edgerton’s book is one of the few examples we have of what such a history would look like. And accordingly, it makes for a lively and provocative read.
Hidden Figures in Computing (and Technology) Margot Lee Shetterly, Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race (2016) (GC, DL) Liza Mundy, Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II (2017) (DL) Marie Hicks, Programmed Inequality: How Britain Discarded Women Technologists and Lost Its Edge in Computing (2018) (GC) Claire Evans, Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet (2018) Nathalia Holt, Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars (2016) (DL)bora Dava Sobel, The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars (2016) (GC) Robert Noyce Tom Wolfe, “The Tinkerings of Robert Noyce: How the Sun Rose on the Silicon Valley,” Esquire Magazine (1983). Online version: https://web.stanford.edu/class/e145/2007_fall/materials/noyce.html It is also reprinted in Wolfe’s Hooking Up (2000) (GC) Silicon Valley (American Experience Season 25, episode 3, PBS; 2013) Michael Riordan and Lillian Hoddeson, Crystal Fire: The Invention of the Transistor and the Birth of the Information Age (1998) (GC) Leslie Berlin, The Man behind the Microchip: Robert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon Valley (2005) (GC, DL) A Non-Linear History of Computing Johnson, Wonderland (see above), chapter on Music James Gleick, The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood (2011) (GC, DL) Walter Isaacson, The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution (2014) (GC, DL) James Essinger, Jacquard's Web: How a Hand-Loom led to the Birth of the Information Age (2004) (GC) Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman, A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (2017) John Markoff, What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counter culture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry (2005) (GC) Automatons If you are interested in learning more about automatons (or seeing more examples), I would recommend the BBC documentary by Simon Schaffer (I showed a clip from it during our session, relating to Jacques Droz’ “The Writer”). I would also recommend Gabby Wood’s book, Edison’s Eve, that explores automatons from the 18th century onward. Truitt’s work goes further back into the medieval period and late antiquity. Mechanical Marvels; Clockwork Dreams (BBC Documentary, 2008) available at https://youtu.be/NcPA0jvp9IQ Gabby Wood, Edison's Eve: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life (2003) (GC) Elly Rachel Truitt, Medieval Robots: Mechanism, Magic, Nature and Art (2015) (GC) On the Banu Musa & Al-Jazari, see: John Freely, Light from the East: How the Science of Medieval Islam Helped to Shape the Western World (2011) (GC) Ahmad Hasan and Donald Hill, Islamic Technology: An Illustrated History (1986) (GC) A modern reprint of Al-Jazari’s Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices (1974) can be viewed (and even downloaded) online at the Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/TheBookOfKnowledgeOfIngeniousMechanicalDevices The same applies to the Banu Musa’s earlier Book of Ingenious Devices (c. 9th century): https://archive.org/details/TheBookOfIngeniousDevicesAutomationDuringMoslemEra Session 2: The Evolutionary Perspective Overviews: In addition to Basalla’s Evolution of Technology and Arthur’s The Nature of Technology (both listed above on page 2), there are two writers (I would recommend) who have done a lot to explore this evolutionary angle (in books that are written for broader audiences): Henry Petroski, The Evolution of Useful Things: How Everyday Artifacts-From Forks and Pins to Paper Clips and Zippers-Came to be as They are (1994) (GC, DL) Petroski, Small Things Considered: Why There Is No Perfect Design (2004). (GC) John Lienhard, How Invention Begins: Echoes of Old Voices in the Rise of New Machines (2006) (GC)
Engineers, Notebooks, and Mechanical Inventories Eugene Ferguson, Engineering and the Mind’s Eye (1992), esp ch. 5. (GC) An early article by Ferguson (“The Mind’s Eye: Nonverbal Thought in Technology”) appeared in the magazine Science in 1977, and is available online at: http://www.formpig.com/pdf/formpig_minds%20eye%20nonverbal%20thought%20in%20technology_ferguson.pdf “Theatre of Machines” Genre (*denotes that I incorporated pages from that book in my slides) *Agostino Ramelli, Le Diverse et Artificiose Machine (1588) [Diverse and Ingenious Machines] Scanned online version available at Library of Congress: https://www.loc.gov/resource/rbc0001.2008rosen1086/?st=gallery&c=160 or at Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/gri_33125009356607 Jacob Leupold, Theatrum Machinarum (1724) 10 volumes, containing hundreds of engraved plates, which exemplify this tradition. Available online from the Swiss Digitized Library Project e-rara: https://www.e-rara.ch/search?operation=searchRetrieve&query=dc.creator%3D%22Leupold%2C%20Jakob%22%20and%20vl.domain%3Derara%20sortBy%20dc.title%2Fasc *Agricola's De Re Metallica (1556) The German engineer, Georgius Agricola, collected a wide variety of ideas and drawings relating to water wheels, cranes, hydraulic pumps, and other powered machinery. An online version is available at e-rara: https://www.e-rara.ch/zut/content/thumbview/4806501 An English translation (that retains the original plates/engravings) can be found at Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/georgiusagricola00agriuoft/page/x *Leonardo Da Vinci, Codex Atlanticus; MS. C, & “the Anatomy of Machines” Da Vinci’s material has been digitized and is available through the Galileo Museum of the History of Science: https://brunelleschi.imss.fi.it/genindice.asp?appl=LIR&indice=63&xsl=listagenerale&lingua=ENG&chiave=100775 *Mariano Taccola De Ingeneis (On Engines) and De Machinis (On Machines) 15th century manuscripts / Franceso Di Giorgio “Treatise of Architecture and Machines” 15th century manuscripts Both available through the Galileo Museum of the History of Science: https://brunelleschi.imss.fi.it/genindice.asp?appl=LIR&indice=63&xsl=listagenerale&lingua=ENG&chiave=100554
Case Studies David V. Herlihy, Bicycle: the History (2004) (GC) Wiebe E. Bijker, Of Bicycles, Bakelites and Bulbs: Toward a Theory of Sociotechnical Change (1995). Relevant sections available online at: https://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/students/envs_5110/bijker.pdf Paul A. David, “Clio and the Economics of QWERTY,” American Economic Review (1985) Available online at: https://econ.ucsb.edu/~tedb/Courses/Ec100C/DavidQwerty.pdf On path dependency, and the larger debates over how technologies might become “locked-in,” see: Brian Arthur, “Positive Feedbacks in the Economy” Scientific American (1990) available online at his site: http://tuvalu.santafe.edu/~wbarthur/Papers/SciAm_Article.pdf Alice Bell, “How the Refrigerator Got its Hum: Forget Spaceships, Washing Machines and Fridges are Where the Stories of the Revolutionary Possibilities of Innovation Lie” The Guardian (Feb 2014) https://www.theguardian.com/science/political-science/2014/feb/28/how-the-refrigerator-got-its-hum There is a link in the article to Ruth Cowen’s classic piece on this topic. Ode to Common Things (1954) by Pablo Neruda I have a crazy, crazy love of things. I like pliers, and scissors. I love cups, rings, and bowls - not to speak, of course, of hats. I love all things, not just the grandest, also the infinite- ly small - thimbles, spurs, plates, and flower vases. Oh yes, the planet is sublime! It's full of pipes weaving hand-held through tobacco smoke, and keys and salt shakers - everything, I mean, that is made by the hand of man, every little thing: shapely shoes, and fabric, and each new bloodless birth of gold, eyeglasses carpenter's nails, brushes, clocks, compasses, coins, and the so-soft softness of chairs. Mankind has built oh so many perfect things! Built them of wool and of wood, of glass and of rope: remarkable tables, ships, and stairways. I love all things, not because they are passionate or sweet-smelling but because, I don't know, because this ocean is yours, and mine; these buttons and wheels and little forgotten treasures, fans upon whose feathers love has scattered its blossoms glasses, knives and scissors - all bear the trace of someone's fingers on their handle or surface, the trace of a distant hand lost in the depths of forgetfulness. I pause in houses, streets and elevators touching things, identifying objects that I secretly covet; this one because it rings, that one because it's as soft as the softness of a woman's hip, that one there for its deep-sea color, and that one for its velvet feel. O irrevocable river of things: no one can say that I loved only fish, or the plants of the jungle and the field, that I loved only those things that leap and climb, desire, and survive. It's not true: many things conspired to tell me the whole story. Not only did they touch me, or my hand touched them: they were so close that they were a part of my being, they were so alive with me that they lived half my life and will die half my death.
The Hidden Life of Technology--Part 2
The Hidden Life of Technology Suggested Readings (part 2) *(GC) indicates that Grinnell College’s library has a copy of the work. *(DL) indicates that a copy is available at the Drake Library (either in print, e-book, or audiobook form) The Sensory Side of Technology Arnold Pacey, Meaning in Technology (1999) (GC) The classic account of how the various senses shape the way we design, use, and value technological artifacts. Pacey, The Maze of Ingenuity: Ideas and Idealism in the Development of Technology (1974) (GC) This is an intriguing history of technology (starting with the building of cathedrals in the Middle Ages) that focuses on the ideals and aspirations driving people to make wondrous things, rather than emphasizing the role of profit, efficiency or utility in driving technological development. Robert Pirsig, Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance : an inquiry into values (1974) (DL) Samuel Florman, The Existential Pleasures of Engineering (1976) (GC) Those interested in how the tactile dimensions of technology, and why physically recreating technologies from the past can help us understand them better, might enjoy the BBC documentary The Machine that Made Us (in which Stephen Fry leads a team of people who recreate Gutenberg’s original printing press, experiment with making type, linen paper, etc.) https://youtu.be/uQ88yC35NjI Donald Norman, The Psychology of Everyday Things (alt. title: The Design of Everyday Things) (1988) (GC) Norman, Emotional Design: why we love (or hate) everyday things (2004) (GC) On the symbolism (and gendered nature) of physical materials & design. Cynthia Cockburn and Susan Ormrod, Gender and Technology in the Making (1993) (GC) Cynthia Cockburn, “Domestic Technologies: Cinderella and the Engineers,” Women’s Studies International Forum (1997), 361-71. Rush Schwartz Cowan, More Work For Mother: The Ironies Of Household Technology From The Open Hearth To The Microwave (1984) (GC) Eric Schatzberg, Wings of wood, wings of metal : Culture and technical choice in American airplane materials 1914-1945 (1998). David E. Nye, Electrifying America: Social Meanings of a New Technology (Cambridge, Mass., 1990)(GC) 2 The Debate over Appropriate Technology E.F. Schumacher, Small is beautiful: economics as if people mattered (1973) (GC) Internet Archive (a non-profit, and highly respectable, organization dedicated to compiling and preserving various media forms), allows members of the public to create a free account, in which they can borrow content that is under copyright (just as you can borrow ebooks from the Drake Library). There is a lot of material from the 1970s (such as Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful or Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) which you can freely check out as a member, if you are interested. https://archive.org/ Andrew Kirk, Counterculture Green: The Whole Earth Catalog and American Environmentalism (2007) (GC) Elizabeth Barham, “Towards a theory of values-based labeling,” Agriculture and Human Values (2002),349–360. Kees de Roest, The Production of Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese: The Force of an Artisanal System in an Industrialized World (2000). Available at: https://library.wur.nl/WebQuery/wurpubs/fulltext/139096 Are Technologies Inherently Political? Langdon Winner, “Do Artifacts Have Politics?” Daedalus (1980), 121-36. Available at: https://www.cc.gatech.edu/~beki/cs4001/Winner.pdf David Nye, Technology Matters: Questions to Live With (particularly, ch. 2 “Does Technology Control Us?,” and ch. 7 “Work: More, or Less? Better, or Worse?”) Available online at: https://polifilosofie.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/technology-matters-questions-to-live-with-david-e-nye.pdf Ken Alder, a prominent historian of technology who will be giving a talk at Grinnell College (Thursday, March 14th as part of the convocation series), has explored the inherent politics of technologies in the age of Enlightenment and Revolution. His first book Engineering the Revolution: Arms and Enlightenment in France, 1763-1815 (1998, GC), explored how the politics of the French Revolution became intertwined with idea of interchangeable parts in gun manufacturing (and other forms of mass-production technology that emerged during this era). His second book (which will also be the focus of his talk at Grinnell) explores how the metric system embodied many of the political and ideological currents of the French Revolution: Alder, The measure of all things: The seven-year odyssey and hidden error that transformed the world (2003, GC). Matthew Cotton, Ethics and technology assessment a participatory approach (2014) (GC) Rodemeyer, Sarewitz & Wilsdon The Future of Technological Assessment (Wilson Center Publication) https://www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/files/techassessment.pdf Langdon Winner testified before Congress (in 2003) on how they should deal with the emerging field of Nanotechnology, and reflected on the question of regulating technology in a democracy. His testimony (which is pretty short but evocative) is available at his website: http://homepages.rpi.edu/~winner/testimony.htm 3 Maintenance The Maintainers (a group of technology scholars promoting the study of maintenance with interesting blog postings and resources): http://themaintainers.org/ “Hail the Maintainers” Aeon https://aeon.co/essays/innovation-is-overvalued-maintenance-often-matters-more Douglas Edgerton, Shock of the Old (ch. 4: Maintenance) John Powell, The Survival of the Fitter: Lives of some African Engineers (1995) (GC) Jojada Verrips and Birgit Meyer, “Kwaku's Car: The Struggles and Stories of a Ghanaian Long-Distance Taxi Driver,” in Car Cultures, ed. Daniel Miller (2001), 153-184. A copy can be found online at the authors’ Academia.edu page: https://www.academia.edu/34723885/Verrips_Jojada_and_Birgit_Meyer._2001._Kwakus_Car_The_Struggles_and_Stories_of_a_Ghanaian_Long-Distance_Taxi_Driver._In_Daniel_Miller_ed._Car_Cultures._Oxford_Berg._Pp._153-184 This article tells the fascinating story of how Ghanaian mechanics, or “fitters,” keep vehicles running as the virtually rebuild cars with local parts and modifications. Mark Hughes, “Success and Failure in Technology Transfer: The Story of the Handpump” (1996) available through the national library of Canada at: https://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/obj/s4/f2/dsk1/tape9/PQDD_0021/MQ46506.pdf Geographic and Environmental Perspectives Nicole Starosielski, The Undersea Network (2015) (GC) Tung-Hui Hu, A Prehistory of the Cloud (2016) (GC) On the environmental impact of telegraph & electrical wiring on the introduction of squirrels in urban areas, see: "The Urbanization of the Eastern Gray Squirrel in the United States," Journal of American History 110, no. 3 (2013). On the issue of technological waste & disposal, see Giles Slade’s Made to Break: Technology and Obsolescence in America (2006) and the classic manifesto for environmentally-conscious design: William McDonough and Michael Braungart’s Cradle to cradle : remaking the way we make things (2002) (GC) On the Sitka Spurce and airplane construction during World War I, see Rutkow’s American canopy: Trees, forests, and the making of a nation (2012) (GC) John Tully, “A victorian ecological disaster: Imperialism, the telegraph, and gutta-percha,” Journal of World History (2009), 559-579. Aaron Allen, “'Fatto di Fiemme': Stradivari's violins and the musical trees of the Paneveggio,” in Invaluable Trees: Cultures of Nature (2012) (GC)