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Science, Technology, and Society

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The Dilemma of Technological Determinism

These thirteen essays explore a crucial historical question that has been notoriously hard to pin down: To what extent, and by what means, does a society's technology determine its political, social, economic, and cultural forms?Karl Marx launched the modern debate on determinism with his provocative remark that "the hand-mill gives you society with the feudal lord; the steam-mill, society with the industrial capitalist," and a classic article by Robert Heilbroner (reprinted here) renewed the debate within the context of the history of technology.

In these Messenger Lectures, originally delivered at Cornell University and recorded for television by the BBC, Richard Feynman offers an overview of selected physical laws and gathers their common features into one broad principle of invariance. He maintains at the outset that the importance of a physical law is not "how clever we are to have found it out, but . . . how clever nature is to pay attention to it," and tends his discussions toward a final exposition of the elegance and simplicity of all scientific laws.

Critical Making and Social Media
Edited by Matt Ratto and Megan Boler

Today, DIY--do-it-yourself--describes more than self-taught carpentry. Social media enables DIY citizens to organize and protest in new ways (as in Egypt’s “Twitter revolution” of 2011) and to repurpose corporate content (or create new user-generated content) in order to offer political counternarratives. This book examines the usefulness and limits of DIY citizenship, exploring the diverse forms of political participation and “critical making” that have emerged in recent years.

A Thousand-Year History

Most general histories of technology are Eurocentrist, focusing on a main line of Western technology that stretches from the Greeks is through the computer. In this very different book, Arnold Pacey takes a global view, placing the development of technology squarely in a "world civilization." He portrays the process as a complex dialectic by which inventions borrowed from one culture are adopted to suit another.Arnold Pacey is a physicist turned historian whose publications have contributed to the British appropriate-technology movement.

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