...each technology is an extension of human lives:
someone makes it, someone owns it, some oppose it, many use it,
and all interpret it.
(David E. Nye, Electrifying America preface)
These links provide background to the genesis of this course:
running log of ruminations and links
course proposal for Technology and American Frontiers: an exploration of resources
overall scheme (August summary), and a December addendum
materials for a presentation to the Virginia Collegiate Honors Council (September 19)
The home page for the course is at http://home.wlu.edu/~blackmerh/technol/
A typical American device is the bicycle. Invented in France, it long remained a toy or vain luxury. Redevised in this country, it inspired inventors and captivated manufacturers, and native genius made it a practical machine for the multitude; now its users number millions, and it is sold in every country. Typical, too, is the bicycle in its effect on national character. It first aroused invention, next stimulated commerce, and then developed individuality, judgement, and prompt decision on the part of its users more rapidly and completely than any other device; for although association with machines of any kind (absolutely straightforward and honest as they all are) develops character, the bicycle is the easy leader of other machines in shaping the mind of its rider, and transforming itself and its rider into a single thing. Better than other results is this: that the bicycle has broken the barrier of pernicious differentiation of the sexes and rent the bonds of fashion, and is daily impressing Spartan strength and grace, and more than Spartan intelligence, on the mothers of coming generations. So, weighed by its effect on body and mind as well as on material progress, this device must be classed as one of the world's great inventions.
W.J. McGee, from an article on "Fifty Years of American Science",
Atlantic Monthly vol 82 (1898), pp 311-312
and all sorts of things created by participants will branch from that page. I expect that it will evolve more or less continuously, and I'll keep to my convention of dating every entry. I'd recommend that everybody follow that practise, and that everybody make it a habit to check for additions to that page frequently.
Here's what the original course proposal stipulated:
Students will choose one or more of the following:We're expecting that participants will use web pages as a medium to record explorations and findings --to document the process as well as to present the final results. We urge you to pour your souls into this effort, which seeks to get you to teach as much as to learn.
Students will use W&L library resources as the primary basis for exploring the effects and consequences of technological change in the time period, area, person or industry selected. They will present their findings in the form of web pages detailing the exploration process and discoveries.
- a technology (e.g., steam power, electricity, canals, recorded sound, transistors, photography, contraception, domestic heating, etc.)
- a decade or an era (e.g., the Roaring 20s, 1945-1955, 1865-1875, Reconstruction, the Age of Steam, etc.),
- a frontier (e.g., the prairies, infectious disease, miniaturization, suburbia, free verse, domestic architecture, deafness, fertility, precision, etc.),
- a region (e.g., the James River Basin, the Mexican Border, northern New England, greater Seattle, gangland L.A.),
- an author, an inventor, or an artist (e.g., Benjamin Franklin, John Dos Passos, Lewis Mumford, Alexander Graham Bell, Frederick Winslow Taylor, James Agee, Edward Weston, Frederick Remington, Andy Warhol, Maybelle Carter, Jimi Hendrix),
- an industry (meat packing, journalism, fast food, trapping, advertising, munitions, broiler chickens, primary education, package delivery, paper making, etc.)