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Is technology inevitable or unpredictable? Why do experts often fail to get it right? How do historians understand it?


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Are we using modern technology to create cultural uniformity, or diversity? To create abundance, or an ecological crisis?

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To destroy jobs or create new opportunities? Should "the market" choose our technologies? Do advanced technologies make us more secure, or escalate dangers? Does ubiquitous technology expand our mental horizons, or encapsulate us in artifice? These large questions may have no final answers yet, but we need to wrestle with them--to live them, so that we may, as Rilke puts it, "live along some distant day into the answers.

Technology Matters: Questions to Live With

Nye's mission in this anecdote-rich, briskly analytical, and indignation-arousing overview is to make us think more critically about the boons and banes of technology and make our views known. Does technology control us? Does it lead to cultural uniformity or diversity?


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To sustainable abundance or to ecological crisis? To more security or escalating danger?

Technology Matters: Questions to Live with | Emerald Insight

The book is rich in examples, is easily readable and is short enough to be recommended for a day's read. It is written in the form of questions and expansive answers, with read like a primer if not a discursive catechism on what historians of technology have been thinking about over the half-century or so since their field was formalized.

One of the striking effects of Nye's treatment is that it leads the reader to the incontrovertible conclusion that the answers to questions about technology evolve no less than technology itself. Original Title. Other Editions 5. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Technology Matters , please sign up. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia.

Technology Matters

Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Sep 06, Mike Hankins rated it liked it Shelves: hist-of-sci-tech. Great intro text for the history of technology. The first half especially is useful for how it summarizes main themes of the historiography.

Nye differentiates between internalists and contextualists -- the former interested in the inner workings of technology itself, the latter interested in how technology interacts with society and culture. He also creates a dichotomy between determinism and externalism. Deterministic thinking about technology views technological change on a linear path, where Great intro text for the history of technology.

Deterministic thinking about technology views technological change on a linear path, where certain innovations are inevitable, and the technology almost has a mind of its own.

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Nye rejects that model and instead argues an externalist vision, where technology can have many different applications, and is often used and developed in ways unique to different cultures, and often unforseen by the technology's creators. Nye does allow for technological "momentum," where, once certain initial choices have been made such as how electric grids are set up or railroads built then the technology can proceed along more predictable paths that have momentum of their own.

The second half of the book is much less useful, often speculating about the future of innovation and asking questions about where technology might lead. There is some important material there, but the real meat of the book is the first half, which does a great job of introducing the big ideas of the field.

A touch biased in parts. A philosophical stream of consciousness that made me think of things that weren't technology. In all pretty O.

May 14, Victor Gonzalez rated it liked it. Technology is part of our life and even if people try to scape of it will follow them. As soon as that person takes a stick and sharpens one end to be able to hunt, or to create a hole in the ground to plant some crops, or even if he just use the stick to pick a fruit from a tall tree he is already using some type technology.

There is no argue that there are some technologies that Technology is part of our life and even if people try to scape of it will follow them. There is no argue that there are some technologies that are more primitive than other but at the end every society from the beginning of humanity has used some type of technology. Even when we were nomads human had tools to hunt down animals. We can argue that technology is part of humanity as the need for eating and sleeping is. How technology comes to be, and can we live without it?

In the book Technology Matters: Questions to live with, David Nye brings important issues of the relationship between the development of technology and the evolution of the human. His book is form by 10 chapters where each chapter brings a new question.

Technology matters

Nye responds each question providing a historical survey with multiple examples from various societies. Technology is part of us and the main reason for its creation is to make our life easier. People have thought for long time that new advances of technology will make human useless. New business occurs because of technology and is the job of humans to come with the new way of operation. Maybe years ago we might have had 20 people planting corn but now we have 2 people planting corn and people coding some application, new jobs that occurred because of the development of new technology.

One point he makes clear through the book is that technology cannot be predictable and that society changes the technology and not the other way around. He mentions multiple examples where a technology was created for one purpose but other usages were given after. He also points out other ways on how technology, originally created with a good purpose, has created negative impact on our world and how some societies have denied some technology.

He mentions how asbestos was used to prevent fire but how it killed many of the workers who installed it. To prove that society shapes technology he mentions the example of the gunpowder that was created in China but it was the Europeans that used it to produce fire weapons. Going back to the refusal of technology by a society he also mentions how the Japanese Samurais refused to use guns even though they knew that it was more powerful and lethal than using a sword or an arrow, also in a more modern environment the Amish in the US still prohibit the usage of farm machinery for agriculture inside their community.

As Nye recognizes, it was not so long ago in history that most people worked in agriculture and the word "job" would not have even been understood as we in the United States today take to be the normal; still in many developing countries there is not a culture in which most people expect to work in "jobs".

Technological change has resulted at times and places in lots of repetitive work e. The continuing change in the United States over the past couple of centuries from an agricultural workforce to an industrial workforce to a service sector workforce illustrates just how fast the changes in the workplace have been. Nye points out that American culture tends to emphasize using technology based improvements in productivity to increase profits for investors and to increase savings for customers.

My Irish ancestors would have seen the greed of American investors as less avaricious that that of the absentee land owners, and the Mexican peons would have willingly traded their patrones for our owners. The way in which society evolves a distribution of wealth and income is too complex for Nye's chapter and for this posting.