Industrial Ideology of Automation
Chronology | background | content | Case | Conclusion


engine The animated diagram an engine showing the triple-expansion transfer of heat from one cylinder yo another the warmest colors being red and orange to the cooler colors being yellow and blue, and the exhaust of waste heat. The performance of such an engine is more efficient because it reuses the waste heat from the initial cylinder to a second and third chamber. Such a heat transfer mechanism is called cogeneration of power. To keep the force of the engine's output in an operationally efficient range of performance a flywheel is attached to propel the drive shaft and is seen on the far right.

By studying the performance of simple expansion engines -- or steam engines, the French inventor Sadi Carnot dicovered one of three laws of thermodynamics which are a basic concept in physics.

Among the many ways of knowing, consider these four:

think and do

cognitive & kinesthetic

ethical and say

spiritual & speak


How do machines alter our responses?

Draw or sketch the machines you see on campus:

Then try to Diagram how one of these machines work.

Read aloud a key passage from Pacey or Pursell on how a machine works:

What aspect, or facet of machinery did you describe in the drawing?

Are we responsible for our machinery or can we blame tools for the damages that they are associated with?

Automobile accidents and "no fault insurance."

Airline disasters, delays or cancellations.

Northeastern blackout, electrical power failures.

Nuclear power plants such as Three Mile Island, or Chernobyl.

Industrial Accidents, mining collapse, explosions.

Train wrecks or oil spills.

Read aloud contrasting or complementary passages from Pacey and Pursell on how a machinery affected the people who use or did use it:

Speech is of course a technology that acted as a means of transforming the tools used by early peoples.

How is reading different from reading a passage aloud?


Key dates & words:

1687 Newtonian mathematics

1763 Watt perfects Newcomen’s engine

1803 Oliver Evan’s steam engine

1898 Marconi’s "wireless" electricity


Domestication of space and time transformed culture.

Social organization of urban craftsmen depended on agriculture.

Mechanical worldview spread with inventions of new machinery.

Population growth from 1600 - 1850 doubled as a consequence.


Mechanization of work was followed by harnessing new forms of energy: wind, water, steam, petroleum:

What do industrial machines do to families, work, home & recreation?

preindustrial decline in family size & rise in illegitimacy

gender equity & family employment in factory work

piece work and clock work as forms of compensation

growth in the size of & specialization within the household

social dislocation (job loss) & leisurely pastimes

Imagery of God turned from a "Good Shepherd" to a "clock-maker."

Case: Railways, imperialism and financial speculation.

Pacey’s "dreams" and

Pursell’s nightmares

of a perfect mechanical world!

Automation of machinery & the ideology of persuasion.

Bureaucracy and the social reorganization of work.

The elevation of science and precision as a cultural value was embodied in railways.

The locomotive steam engine

New concepts:

technological determinism & the reification of techniques

idea of progress in the Eighteenth Century’s "Enlightenment" highly figurative character and fanatic beliefs associated with "ideology"

Lesson: "Every silver lining has its cloud."

We have often substituted technology for purpose, relying on an abundance of energy or resources to ignore the consequences of our inability to fairly meet each other’s needs.

Forestry practices like clear cutting on this Oregon hillside is an example of industrial impacts of resource extraction for timber. Railroads needed enormous amounts of timber in the last century.

Technology may give us the capacity, and may encourage us to take the liberty to act, but should we be constrained only by the tools we are using, or is there another guide to control the material we have invented from making important decisons for us?

Chronology | background | content | Case | Conclusion

Course overview and Techological Complexes

Course Index

course direction





Tulips as tools?
Tools of Toil: what to read.
Tools are historical building blocks of technology.
Technology can be understood if tools have three facets.
Tools used in both Music and Architecture led to mechanization and automation.
Tools and the study of technology require us to reflect on the power of instruments,