gearsTools of Toil: A history of technology.


The physical, emotional, and mental characteristics related to tool use are one of four extraordinary qualitative changes in our prehistoric past that define the human species. The history of technology examines these behavioral shifts and four subsequent transformations of society due to the acquisition of new tools, crafts associated with new techniques, and the unique roles of hand made artifacts, manufacture, industrialization, and automation in the past to better comprehend the tools we now work with that powerfully reshape our lives, beliefs and feelings.


The history of technology’s importance:


“We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.”

Carl Sagan, 1934-1996.

Description: ::::Applications:Microsoft Office 2008:Office:Media:Clipart: Business.localized:BU005259.pngThe center of this class is you. We all learn about the roots and impacts of technological change as such influences shaped your world and experiences.


Basically I want you to write in this class. All written work is based on what you read and we discuss details from the texts each week. I believe writing about the texts reveals your capacity to formulate concepts and learn new material about how humans are challenged by technology.


For me the classroom is an active arena for you and all of us to have an ongoing conversation that you can take away and reformulate into the papers drawn from your assigned readings in this course. I read your draft essays, make comments and allow you to respond to the changes I suggest, before the essay receives a grade. I hope, as we explore the roots and arguments over technological change as we experience the mental, emotional, and even spiritual consequences of rapid technological alterations, so that you may know better how to cope with ways to earn a living, learn new skills, and engage others now and in the future to comprehend technology.





Carroll Pursell, White Heat.

Arnold Pacey, Technology in World Civilization.

Neil Postman, Technopoly, (selected chapters).

Charles Percy Snow, Two Cultures.

Michio Kaku, Visions.



Neil Postman, Amusing ourselves to Death,


What must you do to excel in this course?


            Actions                        value   %         due dates (completed by) no late assignments

  1      Interviews                               15        September       07.

  2      Essay Tech. is                        15        October           12.

  3      Essay revolutions                   20        November        09.

  4      Debate on C.P. Snow              15        Oct-Nov           26-02. 

  5      Final Essay                              20        November        30; Final exam is Dec 3, 2-4 PM.

  6      Attendance & participation      15        Every week & Film festival Sept. 19-23.        


Participating students should arrive to class on time having read the assigned texts for that meeting day, ready to discuss the text's concepts, and ask questions that these ideas and events raise for you.



Write phone numbers of two other classmates  _______________  &  _________________


What do we do?

More particularly, active participants will have opportunities to hone their skills in reading analytically, in verbally conveying their views in a supportive setting about customs, language, inventions, diffusion of devices, and the pace of changes induced by new means of production. Further, you have an opportunity to interview others and express your ideas in frequent writing as you learn throughout the term.


Especially in our class, I would hope you would experience, now and again, the delight and enjoyments of being moved by the profound power of ideas and articulate prose to lift your spirits, amend your behavior, nourish your more curious sensibilities, and even move you to act prudently and enrich the world.


Terms to know and write about.  Vocabulary is critical see:


Grades: all assignments are graded with careful attention to each of these criteria:  {CLIFS}

            1. C      clarity, coherence, spelling, grammar, punctuation, & logical consistency.

            2. L      length & development of your concepts, arguments, ideas, or presentations.

            3. I       information from the class texts, library research, discussions, or interviews.

            4. F      frequency of examples from the lectures, journal, your notes & readings.

            5. S      subjects developed as argued in a thesis; introduction, summaries, & conclusion.



Improvement over the duration of the term is expected if your grade is to remain in the B or A ranges.


My grades represent performance, not effort: while A is 94-96;  A- is 93-90,

            B is 84-86;  B- is 83-80 and B+ 87-89                  C is 74-76;  C- is 73-71 and C+ 77-79

              D is 64-66;  D- is 63-60 and D+ 67-7                                          F is 59 or below



Readings and assignments should be completed well before the start of class.


Your essays should have a title based on your contents, with its principle author’s full name and phone number, date completed, and with page numbers on the upper right hand corner. The essay should follow the style and content of papers in the Rollins Undergraduate Research Journal and it should be double spaced, 12 pt. font (either Times/Times Roman or Arial) and at least 6 pages long [23 lines to the sheet], excluding the Literature Cited page and any notes, figures, photos, or graphs you may use (see –ask Ms. Robertshaw in TJs, for Instructions to Authors).


Endnotes or footnotes are preferred rather than parenthesis with author, date, and pages. The final review paper for the term must be handed in no later than 30 November 2012.  Of course you are very welcome to hand it in earlier and you are also encouraged to discuss ideas with me and submit a draft for my review & comments before final submission on the due date. I anticipate that the best parts of your papers will be presented in class. 80% of your grade comes equally from the four papers.


Sept 19-23:      Global Peace Film Festival – select 3 films to promote as an alternate to interviews, prepare a promotion packet, describe the films to other classes, bring people to the films and panels [attend at least two panels and describe their content in writing].



Readings and assignments should be completed well before the start of class.

Weeks, Dates, and Days


20             M              Who are you and how does your favorite tool work?

22             W              Postman Chapter 1, What did Thamus decide to do and how is that crucial to our story?

24             F                Postman Chapter 2, From Tools to the rule of technical constraints; how we got here.             


27             M              Pursell     1                How does technology alter, or express the essence of humane behavior?

29             W              Pursell     2                Myths about inventors, inventions and meeting human needs.

31             F                Pursell     3                Technical influences on our perception of the world around us.


5                W              Interviews exercise  see Pacey

7                F                Pursell     4,              The madness of any technical rat-race of planned obsolescence.

Interviews due: typed 3 to 5 interview responses and a four page summary of what they said.


Weeks, Dates, and Days


10             M              Pacey      1-2            The Asian source of modern western technology

12             W              Pacey      3                How Asian techniques were carried west by war & trade

14             F                TJs            Writing about what is Technology using three authors analytically.


17             M              Pursell     3                focus on Eadward Muybridge and the bet that changed history

19             W              Film as a technology (visitor?) What films do you want to see Global Peace Film Festival?

21             F                attend a Panel at GPFF and no class


24             M              Postman 3               What is technopoly as opposed to technocracy?

26             W              Pursell 5                    How science and technology are hopelessly confused.                   

28             F                Pacey 5                     Gunpowder and the acceleration of destructive creation



1                M              Pacey 6                     Concepts in tectonic and organizational changes

3                W              Pacey 7                     The importance of sociotechnical parallel changes

5                F                Postman 4               An Improbable world?


8                M     Mid-term break no class

10             W              Postman 5               How technological demands leave you defenseless?

12             F                Pursell, Pacey & Postman:  Essay due "What is Technology?"


15             M              Pacey 8                     How do metal, guns, and rails build & maintain empires?

17             W              Pacey 9                     Railroad as the prototype of automation

19             F                Pacey 10                  scientific revolutions and dreams


22             M              C.P Snow The Two Chapters: Science and the Arts forever at war or is this a truce?

24             W              Debate prep

26             F                Debate    teams affirm


29             M              Debate    teams negate

31             W              Debate    second teams affirm



2                F                Debate second teams negate


5                M              Debate review

7                W              Kaku 1, pp. 1-19. Welcome to the future as replaceable parts

9                F                Kaku 2, pp. 21-69. The Computer Revolution & Moore's law of efficiency

                  F                Analysis & Synthesis Essay due on Revolutions in technology & their importance


12             M              Kaku, pp. 70-135. The Computer as a keystone and synthetic exaptation

14             W              Pursell& Kaku, pp. 138-180. The Biomedical promise of genetic insights.

16             F                Postman& Kaku, pp. 181-261. Bio molecular medicine & gene therapies


19             M              Kaku, pp. 265-322. The Quantum world of nanotechnology and electronics.

21             Thanksgiving break


26             M              Kaku- pp. 322-337. Can we create a planetary civilization or are we doomed?

28             W              All the authors in perspective

30             F                Essay due on debatable importance of understanding Kranzberg's "Laws of Technology"



3                M     Final Exam 2-4 PM: Presentation on "What you learned," all authors and Snow's themes.


Academic honesty and writing with integrity.

Cheating, borrowing ideas, or copying without proper citation diminishes the integrity of any writing. The habitual resort to these less than responsible practices amounts to plagiarism–a most serious academic offense of novices and experts alike. By the use of words or ideas that are not your own and are insufficiently accredited, or not acknowledged at all, you undermine an essay’s reliability. The consequences are that you can fail that project, or even fail the class, since these offenses are a violation of the College’s honor code. As such, I am obligated to report such violations to the Dean.


Use the internet link to concepts, notes, themes, details, and people discussed in class is at:


My policies:

I am here to excite & encourage you to excel in learning new concepts and practicing your writing and speaking abilities in an effort to create meaningful discourse. My purpose is to feed your inquiring intellect with significant concepts in a coherent and challenging manner. I anticipate you will ask questions and actively work together to overcome the challenges the course material may pose for you in achieving excellent performance levels based on an improved understanding of the readings. I recommend you to discuss ideas, passages, and assignments during my office hours (see bottom of page).



Active learning


Readings and assignments should be completed well before the start of class.


Keep in mind that participation in this course involves not only alertness and verbally contributing your ideas, but also listening respectfully without interrupting other speakers who are presenting their views on the assigned readings. Paying attention to others and to me is a sign of respect that I will reward. The use of electronic media, texting, or web browsing for other than class purposes is treated as an absence since texting, internet surfing, e-mailing, or being digitally inattentive to our discussion during class meetings robs us of your intellect’s contributions to our discourse. Attendance earns you 15% of your grade and that amounts to .33 or 1/3 of a percent for every day you come to class. Points cannot be awarded for days you are surfing the web, texting, inattentive, or not present, regardless of the reason.


Late papers

Submit all assigned work at the beginning of the class on the day the assigned work is due. Late papers cannot earn the same credit as those received on time in fairness to the punctual students. This is really because we discuss what you have said in the class the day the essays are due. Always back-up your work as you write, start at least one full week before the essay is due, and keep a printed copy of all drafts of all essays. Each essay is worth 20%; late essays can only be with 18%.


Paper format

The look of any college paper is always a professional document with an accurate date and page numbers indicating when the work was completely written. I ask you to place a cover page with your name, phone number, essay title and an abstract of two to three sentences covering the substance of your essay for purposes of privacy because I make extensive comments on your work. Spelling, syntax, and grammar errors are unacceptable because they detract from focusing on your thoughtful expression.


At the final exam you verbally produce a presentation based on a complete rewrite of your last essay on how technology has the power to distort & reshape our cultural inheritance and social relations. In this improved essay, you must refer to every author & incorporate the comments I have made on your previous papers. The focus should be “What did you learn?” (Three facets of technology for example) supported with evidence from all of our readings, activities, films, my web site, & relevant discussions.



Improvement over the duration of the term is expected if your grade is to remain in the B or A ranges.


My grades represent performance, not effort: while A is 94-96;  A- is 93-90,

            B is 84-86;  B- is 83-80 and B+ 87-89                  C is 74-76;  C- is 73-71 and C+ 77-79

              D is 64-66;  D- is 63-60 and D+ 67-7                                          F is 59 or below



Rollins College policies


The mayor of New York City once remarked that all of us are only "temporarily able." The term disability is filled with negative implications. Despite that we want you to be aware of Gail Ridgeway's services.


Rollins College is committed to equal access and does not discriminate unlawfully against persons with disabilities in its policies, procedures, programs or employment processes. The College recognizes its obligations under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to provide an environment that does not discriminate against persons with disabilities.


If you are a person with a disability on this campus and anticipate needing any type of academic / medical accommodations in order to participate in your classes, please make timely arrangements by disclosing this disability in writing to the Disability Services Office at (Box 2613) - Thomas P. Johnson Student Resource Center, 1000 Holt Ave., Winter Park, FL, 37289. Appointments can be scheduled by calling 407-646-2354 or by emailing:



Membership in the student body of Rollins College carries with it an obligation, and requires a commitment, to act with honor in all things. Because academic integrity is fundamental to the pursuit of knowledge and truth and is the heart of the academic life of Rollins College, it is the responsibility of all members of the College community to practice it and to report apparent violations.  


The following pledge is a binding commitment by the students of Rollins College:


The development of the virtues of Honor and Integrity are integral to a Rollins College education and to membership in the Rollins College community.  Therefore, I, a student of Rollins College, pledge to show my commitment to these virtues by abstaining from any lying, cheating, or plagiarism in my academic endeavors and by behaving responsibly, respectfully and honorably in my social life and in my relationships with others. 


This pledge is reinforced every time a student submits work for academic credit as her own. 


1. Material submitted electronically should contain the pledge; submission implies signing the pledge.


2. Students shall add to all papers, quizzes, tests, lab reports, etc., the following handwritten abbreviated pledge followed by their signature: 


“On my honor, I have not given, nor received, nor witnessed any unauthorized assistance on this work.” 


Closing remark.

We live in a world where fraud and misrepresentation are more rampant than we both may desire. You and I are better than that, so that I would hope our enduring acquaintance with each other is based on the care we take in how and what we say to one another in the work we do together to learn about how to improve your proficiencies and perhaps our world.


Rollins College


FALL SEMESTER 2012 Calendar

    New Students Report Thursday, August 16

Returning Students Report Saturday, August 18

SPARC Day Saturday, August 18


First Day of Class: Monday, August 20


Schedule Changes (Drop/Add)

Monday, August 20, through Friday, August 24

Credit/No Credit Deadline Friday, August 31

Last Day to Drop a Class without Notation ('W' Deadline), August 31


Labor Day National Holiday (No Classes)

Monday, September 3


Fall Break (No Classes)

         Saturday, October 6, through Tuesday, October 9


Last Day to Drop a Class without Penalty ('WF' Deadline)

Friday, October 26


Academic Advising for Spring 2013  [see your advisors]

            Monday, October 29, through Friday, November 2


Spring 2013 Online Registration

            Monday, November 5, through Sunday, November 18


Thanksgiving Recess (No Classes)

Wednesday, November 21, through Sunday, November 25


Classes End Friday, November 30


Reading Days: Saturday, December 1, and Sunday, December 2


Final Exam Week days


Monday, December 3, and Tuesday, December 4


Reading Day Wednesday, December 5

Final Exam Week days

Thursday, December 6, and Friday, December 7


(Contingency Days Monday, December 10, through Friday, December 14)