Technology and Culture

Technology and Culture
Volume 45, Number 3, July 2004

CONTENTS

Articles

    Kranakis, Eda.
  • Fixing the Blame: Organizational Culture and the Quebec Bridge Collapse
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    Subject Headings:
    • Pont de Québec (Québec) -- History.
    • Bridge failures -- Québec (Province) -- Pont de Québec.
    • Bridges -- Design and construction -- Management -- History.
    • Organizational behavior.
    Abstract:
      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."
    Raven, Rob.
    Verbong, Geert.
  • Dung, Sludge, and Landfill: Biogas Technology in the Netherlands, 1970-2000
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    Subject Headings:
    • Biogas industry -- Netherlands -- History.
    • Refuse and refuse disposal -- Technological innovations -- Netherlands -- History.
    Abstract:
      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 social context."
    Woods, Brian.
    Watson, Nick, 1960-
  • In Pursuit of Standardization: The British Ministry of Health’s Model 8F Wheelchair, 1948-1962
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    Subject Headings:
    • 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.
    Abstract:
      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."
    Belfanti, Carlo.
  • Guilds, Patents, and the Circulation of Technical Knowledge: Northern Italy during the Early Modern Age
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    Subject Headings:
    • Diffusion of innovations -- Italy, Northern -- History.
    • Guilds -- Italy, Northern -- History.
    • Patents -- Italy, Northern -- History.
    Abstract:
      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."

Museum Review

Classics Revisited

Essay Reviews

    Coopersmith, Jonathan, 1955-
  • A Machine Named Ginger: Steve Kemper, Code Name Ginger
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    Subject Headings:
    • Kemper, Steve. Code name Ginger: the story behind Segway and Dean Kamen's quest to invent a new world.
    • Kamen, Dean.
    Phillips, Jonathan F.
  • Warfare as Enterprise: Peter W. Singer, Corporate Warriors
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    Subject Headings:
    • Singer, P. W. (Peter Warren) Corporate warriors: the rise of the privatized military industry.
    • Defense industries.
    Epperson, Bruce.
  • Is Form Destiny? Technologies of Personal Security
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    Subject Headings:
    • Low, Setha M. Behind the gates: life, security, and the pursuit of happiness in fortress America.
    • Bradsher, Keith. High and mighty: SUVs-- the world's most dangerous vehicles and how they got that way.
    • Gated communities -- United States.
    • Sport utility vehicles -- Crashworthiness.
    Steinberg, Theodore, 1961-
  • Big Is Ugly: Corporate Enclosure and the Global Water Supply
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    Subject Headings:
    • Glennon, Robert Jerome, 1944- Water follies: groundwater pumping and the fate of America's fresh waters.
    • Barlow, Maude. Blue gold: the battle against corporate theft of the world's water.
    • Clarke, Tony.
    • Ward, Diane Raines. Water wars: drought, flood, folly, and the politics of thirst.
    • Pisani, Donald J. Water and American government: the Reclamation Bureau, national water policy, and the West.
    • Water-supply -- United States.
    • Water resources development -- Government policy.

Book Reviews

    Gelzer, Christian.
  • Like Sex with Gods: An Unorthodox History of Flying (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Singer, Bayla, 1940- Like sex with gods: an unorthodox history of flying.
    • Aeronautics -- History.
    Trimble, William F., 1947-
  • Taking Flight: Inventing the Aerial Age, from Antiquity through the First World War (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Hallion, Richard. Taking flight: inventing the aerial age, from antiquity through the First World War.
    • Aeronautics -- History.
    Goodyear, Anne Collins.
  • Imagining Flight: Aviation and Popular Culture (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Van Riper, A. Bowdoin. Imagining flight: aviation and popular culture.
    • Aeronautics -- Popular works.
    Byers, Richard.
  • Dreams of Flight: General Aviation in the United States (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Bednarek, Janet R. Daly (Janet Rose Daly), 1959- Dreams of flight: general aviation in the United States.
    • Bednarek, Michael H., 1956-
    • Private flying -- United States.
    Bugos, Glenn E., 1961-
  • Chasing the Silver Bullet: U.S. Air Force Weapons Development from Vietnam to Desert Storm (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Werrell, Kenneth P. Chasing the silver bullet: U.S. Air Force weapons development from Vietnam to Desert Storm.
    • Airplanes, Military -- United States.
    Johnson, Stephen B., 1959-
  • Testing Aircraft, Exploring Space: An Illustrated History of NACA and NASA (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Bilstein, Roger E. Testing aircraft, exploring space: an illustrated history of NACA and NASA.
    • United States. National Aeronautics and Space Administration -- History.
    Logsdon, John M., 1937-
  • Single Stage to Orbit: Politics, Space Technology, and the Quest for Reusable Rocketry (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Butrica, Andrew J. Single stage to orbit: politics, space technology, and the quest for reusable rocketry.
    • Aerospace planes -- Research -- United States.
    Barnhart, Megan.
  • Awaiting Armageddon: How Americans Faced the Cuban Missile Crisis (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • George, Alice L., 1952- Awaiting Armageddon: how Americans faced the Cuban Missile Crisis.
    • Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962.
    Soluri, John.
  • Trouble in Paradise: Globalization and Environmental Crises in Latin America (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Roberts, J. Timmons. Trouble in paradise: globalization and environmental crises in Latin America.
    • Thanos, Nikki Demetria.
    • Sustainable development -- Latin America.
    Gorman, Hugh S. (Hugh Scott), 1957-
  • From Apocalypse to Way of Life: Environmental Crisis in the American Century (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Buell, Frederick, 1942- From apocalypse to way of life: environmental crisis in the American century.
    • Environmentalism -- United States.
    Colten, Craig E.
  • Devastation and Renewal: An Environmental History of Pittsburgh and Its Region (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Tarr, Joel A. (Joel Arthur), 1934-, ed. Devastation and renewal: an environmental history of Pittsburgh and its region.
    • Pittsburgh (Pa.) -- Environmental conditions -- History.
    Dobres, Marcia-Anne.
  • African Foragers: Environment, Technology, Interactions (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Kusimba, Sibel Barut, 1966- African foragers: environment, technology, interactions.
    • Hunting and gathering societies -- Africa.
    Fortun, Kim.
  • Synthetic Planet: Chemicals, Politics, and the Hazards of Modern Life (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Casper, Monica J., 1966-, ed. Synthetic planet: chemicals, politics, and the hazards of modern life.
    • Pollution -- Environmental aspects.
    Gough, Jerry B., 1940-
  • Affinity, That Elusive Dream: A Genealogy of the Chemical Revolution (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Kim, Mi Gyung. Affinity, that elusive dream: a genealogy of the chemical revolution.
    • Chemical affinity -- History.
    Lowengard, Sarah.
  • Discussing Chemistry and Steam: The Minutes of a Coffee House Philosophical Society, 1780-1787 (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Levere, Trevor Harvey. Discussing chemistry and steam: the minutes of a coffee house philosophical society, 1780-1787.
    • Turner, Gerard L'Estrange.
    • Science -- Early works to 1800.
    Miller, Carol Poh, 1950-
  • The Iron Bridge: Symbol of the Industrial Revolution, 2nd ed. (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Cossons, Neil, 1939- Iron Bridge: symbol of the Industrial Revolution.
    • Trinder, Barrie Stuart.
    • Bridges, Iron and steel -- England -- History.
    Nelson, Andrew.
  • Robert Stephenson: The Eminent Engineer (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Bailey, Michael R. (Michael Reeves), ed. Robert Stephenson: the eminent engineer.
    • Stephenson, Robert, 1803-1859.
    Cowan, Neil M.
  • Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify the World (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Jonnes, Jill, 1952- Empires of light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the race to electrify the world.
    • Electric engineering -- History.
    Maines, Rachel, 1950-
  • The Body Electric: How Strange Machines Built the Modern American (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Peña, Carolyn Thomas de la. Body electric: how strange machines built the modern American.
    • Quacks and quackery -- United States -- History -- 19th century.
    Hurt, R. Douglas.
  • American Agriculture in the Twentieth Century: How It Flourished and What It Cost (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Gardner, Bruce L. American agriculture in the twentieth century: how it flourished and what it cost.
    • Agriculture -- Economic aspects -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
    Fehr, Kregg M.
  • Oil in Texas: The Gusher Age, 1895-1945 (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Olien, Diana Davids, 1943- Oil in Texas: the gusher age, 1895-1945.
    • Olien, Roger M., 1938-
    • Petroleum industry and trade -- Texas -- History.
    Hovis, Logan W., 1946-
  • The Mining West: A Bibliography and Guide to the History and Literature of Mining in the American and Canadian West (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Lingenfelter, Richard E., ed. Mining west: a bibliography and guide to the history and literature of mining in the American and Canadian west.
    • Mines and mineral resources -- West (U.S.) -- Bibliography.
    Jones-Imhotep, Edward.
  • The Computer Revolution in Canada: Building National Technological Competence (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Vardalas, John N. Computer revolution in Canada: building national technological competence.
    • Electronic data processing -- Canada -- History.
    Campbell-Kelly, Martin.
  • A History of Online Information Services, 1963-1976 (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Bourne, Charles P. History of online information services, 1963-1976.
    • Hahn, Trudi Bellardo.
    • Information storage and retrieval systems -- History.
    Kidwell, Peggy Aldrich.
  • A History of Mathematical Tables: From Sumer to Spreadsheets (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Campbell-Kelly, Martin, ed. History of mathematical tables: from Sumer to spreadsheets.
    • Mathematics -- Tables -- History.
    Bektas, Yakup.
  • Possessors and Possessed: Museums, Archaeology, and the Visualization of History in the Late Ottoman Empire (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Shaw, Wendy M. K., 1970- Possessors and possessed: museums, archaeology, and the visualization of history in the late Ottoman Empire.
    • Museums -- Turkey -- History.
    Keller, Janet Dixon.
  • Artefactual Intelligence: The Development and Use of Cognitively Congenial Artefacts (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Léon, David de. Artefactual intelligence: the development and use of cognitively congenial artefacts.
    • Cognition and culture.
    Jacobson, Lisa, 1962-
  • A Sense of Things: The Object Matter of American Literature (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Brown, Bill, 1958- Sense of things: the object matter of American literature.
    • American fiction -- 19th century -- History and criticism.
    Krupar, Jason.
  • Survival City: Adventures Among the Ruins of Atomic America (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Vanderbilt, Tom. Survival City: adventures among the ruins of atomic America.
    • West (U.S.) -- Description and travel.
    Day, Dwayne A.
  • Spying with Maps: Surveillance Technologies and the Future of Privacy (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Monmonier, Mark S. Spying with maps: surveillance technologies and the future of privacy.
    • Electronic surveillance.

Communications

From the Henry Ford

Memorial




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