Bridge failures -- Québec (Province) -- Pont de Québec.
Bridges -- Design and construction -- Management -- History.
The collapse of the Quebec Bridge in 1907 remains "one of the world's major structural
failures," writes Eda Kranakis in "Fixing the Blame: Organizational Culture and the Quebec
Bridge Collapse," one still studied by engineering students as an object lesson. But the
common understanding of what caused the partially completed bridge to collapse is
flawed, Kranakis argues. The Royal Commission that investigated blamed errors in judgment
by two engineers, Theodore Cooper and Peter Szlapka, shaping a view of events that
has prevailed ever since. But its conclusions are belied by a mountain of evidence collected
by the commission itself during the inquiry and contributed by engineers and public officials
subsequently. "The combined weight of this evidence suggests, rather, that the errors
behind the collapse were rooted in the project's organizational culture." Kranakis links organizational
factors to three crucial technical errors that the commission found to be
responsible for the bridge's collapse, and uses that discussion to lead into the broader question
of how organizations influence engineering. "One of the ironies of the Quebec Bridge
disaster," she concludes, "is that the important organizational lessons it offered–although
understood by many engineers and public officials at the time of the event–have since
been forgotten because later analysts accepted the Royal Commission's narrow interpretation
of error and causation."
Refuse and refuse disposal -- Technological innovations -- Netherlands -- History.
Industrial societies are drowning in the torrent of waste created by our production
methods, habits of consumption, and living patterns. In "Dung, Sludge, and Landfill:
Biogas Technology in the Netherlands, 1970–2000," Rob Raven and Geert Verbong present
case studies of three technologies among the many used in the management of the waste
stream: the upflow anaerobic sludge blanket reactor, a wastewater treatment system; anaerobic
manure digestion; and landfill gas extraction. By following the different paths of
development traced by these technologies, Raven and Verbong hope both to address the
question of why some environmental technologies succeed while others fail and, more
broadly, to "illuminate the complicated interplay between technological development and
Wheelchairs -- Great Britain -- History -- 20th century.
Wheelchairs -- Standards -- Great Britain -- History -- 20th century.
People with disabilities -- Government policy -- Great Britain -- History -- 20th century.
People with disabilities -- Great Britain -- Political activity -- History -- 20th century.
Medical policy -- Great Britain -- History -- 20th century.
As Brian Woods and Nick Watson note, for millions of people the wheelchair has been
a significant site of technological innovation over the last hundred years, yet few historians
or sociologists have paid it much attention. With "In Pursuit of Standardization: The
British Ministry of Health's Model 8F Wheelchair, 1948–1962, "Woods and Watson aim to
rectify that situation, at least in part. The article surveys "the effects of the interplay between
the state, medical professionals, and disabled people–both as individuals and in
organized groups–on wheelchair innovation in Britain during the 1950s." Although it is
"primarily a sociotechnical history of the emergence of a standardized wheelchair" that
proceeds from a starting point in the social construction of technology approach, the
authors are aware that a focus on "the circulation of power veils the processes of structural
exclusion." They draw on the "social model of disability, first developed in Britain as a
political tool to explain disability in social terms and later refined . . . as a sociological theory"
to complement SCOT and shed light on "the relationships between wheelchair developments
and the structural exclusion of disabled people."
Diffusion of innovations -- Italy, Northern -- History.
Guilds -- Italy, Northern -- History.
Patents -- Italy, Northern -- History.
The technological history of early modern Europe was marked by "the spread of technical
knowledge through the movement of people" and "the creation by almost all the
European states of laws and regulations intended to reward and safeguard invention,"
writes Carlo Marco Belfanti in "Guilds, Patents and the Circulation of Technical Knowledge."
The mobility of the skilled workforce in this era was "regulated by the actions of two
institutions dedicated to opposing objectives (or at least appearing to be so): the urban
craft guilds and the patent laws." Rich historical literatures on the patent system and on
guilds exist mainly in isolation from each other, but Belfanti draws on both to argue "that
patents and guilds were not always in conflict but rather were two aspects of the same institutional
setup." Their interaction was a crucial feature of the institutional context for technological
diffusion that prevailed until the eighteenth century, "when the objective of the
competition between manufacturing centers changed from acquiring secrets related to the
production process to adopting product innovations in response to market demand."