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CARAVAGGIO  (b. 1573, Caravaggio, d. 1610, Porto Ercole)   Narcissus  1598-99  Oil on canvas, 110 x 92 cm  Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome   The attribution of this painting to Caravaggio has been discussed at length and it is still questioned by sHistory of Technology: Tools of Toil

“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.

Caravaggio, 1599; Narcissus views his reflection.   


Have we invested more in our symbols of technology than they can promise in satisfying our hunger for contentment, comfort and convenience?



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:
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.


class | writer's tips | texts | assignments | grading criteria | Rollins | Course description


One goal of this course is to allow you to explain in writing and verbally demonstrate three to five examples of how the system of related technologies, influences you. One way we refer to this is called a web of tools, through both tool use and tool making. We analyze how technology and techniques through people's continuing use of implements and utensils, machines, and media profoundly alters your perception and the actual world you perceive. By the initial month of the course you should be able to identify two different examples of each of the three facets of technological systems and what each does.    

Watt EngineAnother goal of the course is for you to read stories about inventions as basic information for determining, to your own satisfaction, the cost of, the meaning and the significance of technology in shaping our individual and collective identities as morally imaginative and spiritually diverse human citizens. By the middle of the course identify three or more examples of technology shaping what we know, how we behave and a significant change in social routines.     

And a final goal of this class is to engage you in an ongoing conversation. Your capacity to speak with your peers, with me, and people beyond this class about the proper role of technology in our lives and our larger society is at the core of this course. At the end of the class you should be able to identify two or more ethical problems raised, but not necessarily resolved, by the use of technology as suggested in the texts
 Better students will want to understand that technology is more than an array of inventions, gadgets and devices to solve problems. To do really excellent (A- and A work) you will need to read critically, compare all the authors, and understand the utility of triangles and the tetrad symbolizing the power of technology. You should be able to identify in writing and verbally, five to seven cases of technology's overt power and unseen influences during distinctly different historical periods.

How do I evaluate [grade] your performance or how do you earn a quality mark?
Description: ::::Applications:Microsoft Office 2008:Office:Media:Clipart: Business.localized:BU005259.pngIn addition to all the work done in the course which I track, I ask you to draft, and then redraft your essays based on frequent, incisive and clear references to the basic and complicated arguments in the books. You are encouraged to participate and are rewarded for your risks in pulling ideas from different evidence rich disputes together from all authors to support your essays & projects.

C;   Clarity in applying evidence to one or more sides of an argument; grammar & syntax.
L;    Length of logical analysis based on quantity & quality of thesis, examples, or complexity described.
I;     Informative value of the cases, examples, evidence & stories pulled together from texts.
F;    Frequency of references to the authors and the ideas used by texts to convey concepts
S;    Summaries of themes in precision & relation of thesis to arguments in written & verbal work.


August | September | October | November | December

26             Are we more than just the reflection of the tools we use? Introducing the course & Core         
28             Pre-test, What is technology? A hand-on experience and using on-line services for the class.                 
                  PretestScope & significance of learning. Olin 220, creativity lab.

2           Postman pp. xi-20; Ch. 1, What did Thamus decide to do and how is that crucial to describing inventions?
4                Looking at interviews & how to ask people questions about the uses of & influences of technology.    

9          Pursell     1, pp. 12-35.   How does technology alter, or express the essence of humane behavior? [An example of notes from chapter one.]

11             Postman 2, pp. 21-39.    Tools, technocracy and technopoly, how do these arguments differ?

16             Pursell     2, pp. 36-63.           Myths about inventors, inventions and meeting human needs.
18             Pacey      1-2-3, pp. 1-57.     The Asian source and origins of modern western technology.
                                    interviews of at least three people and your summary of their ideas is Due.

23             Pursell     3, pp. 64-91.           Technical influences on our perception of the world around us.
25             Do make an appointment before mid-term to see me for a short conference on your essays.


30             Pursell     4, pp. 92-117.        The madness of any technically influenced rat-race of planned obsolescence. Start a draft of your paper!


2                TJs-Olin        Writing about "what is technology?" using the authors analytically. Bring a draft of your paper.

7                Pacey pp. 58-72. Postman 3, pp. 40-55.            What is technopoly as opposed to technocracy?
9                Postman 4, pp. 56-70.          An Improbable world. How misunderstood is our automated society?
                                    Paper on what is technology? Due.
14             October 11-14 Fall Break, no class on Tuesday.

16             Pursell 5, pp. 188-143.          How science and technology are hopelessly confused.

21             Pacey 5, pp. 73-91.                Gunpowder and the acceleration of destructive creation
23             Pacey 6-7, pp. 92-130.         Concepts in tectonic and organizational & sociotechnical parallel changes

28             Pacey 8-9, pp. 131-167.       How important are metal, guns, and rails to build & maintain empires
30             Postman 5-6, pp. 71-106.    How do technological demands leave you defenseless?

4                Pacey 10 pp. 168-186.          Are scientific revolutions and dreams a prototype of automation?
6                Postman 7 & Chapter 8, pp. 147-143.   What are the meanings of computers and hidden technologies?
11             C. P. Snow, The Two Cultures: Science and the Arts forever at war or is this a truce?
13             C. P. Snow, The Two Cultures: What is a debatable premise or are there premises in his arguments?

Paper on to what extent has technology changed society and how big is the influence? Due.

18             Debate prep select teams and teams decide on the arguable premises.
20             Debate    teams, debate team one.

25             Debate    teams, debate team two.

2                Head, Mindless, pp. 1-102. What is the role of CBS's in the "new industrial state"?
4                Head, Mindless, pp. 103-194. Emotional Labor and how is it at risk from military & corporations?

12            Friday, 2 – 4 PM, Final exam: You stay for the entire 2 hours, present your essay's findings.

August | September | October | November | December

Expectations for Student Learning outcomes for ecological history:
A Rollins student's submission of work for academic credit indicates that the work is the student's own. All outside assistance should be acknowledged, & the student's academic acquisition of information truthfully reported at all times.

  • Information literacy by the use of computer assisted learning by your identifying and describing key sources of evidence presented by primary sources and texts used in the class.
  • Communication Skills. Active participants will learn to organize and express their thoughts clearly and logically in writing and verbally by formal and frequent ungraded exercises and in a formal debate based on the texts.  
  • Critical Thinking. Active participants will practice written analysis to apply historical methods to analytically evaluate the record of past events and how the text's authors have interpreted significant ecological, social, technological, and economic turning points in the past such as manufacture, industrialism, & automation.  
  • Research Skills. Active participants will acquire and demonstrate historical research skills, including the effective use of the Internet, libraries, archives, and museums with appropriate texts or databases to display their information literacy.  
  • Writing and Intellectual Integration. Active participants may demonstrate their mastery of the knowledge and skills involved in historical analysis by conceptualizing and executing a significant piece of interpretive writing based on more than four author's explicit arguments and related ideas on a clearly defined topic.
  • Active participants will have repeated opportunities to exhibit an accurate knowledge of historical events where technological factors influenced how people responded to conditions and the significance of specified periods where technology perpetuated ecological predicaments that altered economic and social development.
  • Active participants demonstrate in writing and verbally skills of critical analysis:
    • Formulating persuasive arguments based on comparative and contrasting evidence from all the texts.
    • Evaluating evidence and critiquing author's claims in the assigned readings in their formal essays.

  • Understand fundamental physical and biological principles that govern technological processes. (Geography, dystopian & utopian views, food sources, blocked technical systems, & population growth.)
  • Compare and contrast fundamental concepts from the social sciences and the humanities underlying historical thought and economic analysis. (Dialogue, culture, religion, creativity, inventors, gender and prejudice, tool-use, labor theory of value, changes in materials, & culturally specific implements.)
  • Integrate and apply perspectives from across the natural sciences, social sciences, and the humanities in the context of complex technological problems. (Mechanization, industrialization & automation, wage slavery, robotics, nanotechnology, and the paradox of: Kranzberg's laws, economic development, social resistance to new technologies, or technological changes on cultural expression.) 
  • Communicate integrated perspectives on complex social problems in the form of written and oral arguments to both professional and lay audiences how the impact of technology on cultural norms, economic production and consumption as these technical impacts influenced the land, labor and capital accumulation of Europe, Asia, and the Americas.
  • Independently design and construct formal oral arguments and written essays that describe and summarize examples of historical conditions that created intractable predicaments or stubborn problems that made the adoption of or blocking of new technology a pivotal watershed in a people's history.

Each assignment that is submitted on Blackboard has an accompanying statement of outcomes, such that you can see before and after you write the paper what the terms by which your papers and other assignments are awarded points and ultimately a grade. I track the amount you write as well as the quality of the arguments you make, regardless of the grade you earn.

Friday 12/12 : 2 – 4 PM Final exam is an oral presentation of your written findings.
A. Submit a rewritten essay based on previous two papers and all the authors (20%)

B. You present a rehearsed and engaging verbal summary of your paper and focusing on what you learned specifically from the authors lasting from 4 -5 minutes in length of presentation. Music may accompany your talk but not video clips. You stay for the entire 2 hours. (10% of grade is oral present).

All work that you submit, including blogs, e-mails, and texts, must be your own words, or have an acknowledgment as to whose words, ideas, or beliefs are being used and from where.

ENV 260.1: Tools of Toil: History of Technology, is a course that carries 4 hours of credit and counts as an Environmental Studies elective or as the general education's "Knowledge of Western Civilization" requirements, elective course because learning is focused on historical analysis.

Course Requirements:                         value
Blackboard, frequent use.                          5%
Pretest                                                      5%
Reading and recitation in class.                  5%
Active Class Participation.                      15%
Interviews & write-up of three.               15%
Writing the 1st essay.                               15%
Writing the 2d essay.                                15%
Final essay on Snow & Head.                  15%
Final presentation on all authors.            10%

Percentage range for Grade Scale

93-94-95-96            A
90-91-92                  A-
87-88-89                  B+
83-84-85-86            B
80­-81-82                  B-
77-78-79                  C+
73-74-75-76            C
70-71-72                  C-
67-68-69                  D+
63-64-64-66            D
60-61-62                  D-
          59 & lower      F


I am here to excite and encourage you to excel in learning new concepts and practicing your writing and speaking abilities to improve your expression and in an effort to create meaningful discourse. My purpose is to feed your inquiring intellect with significant ideas 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 an excellent level of performance based on an improved, articulated understanding of the readings. I recommend you to discuss perplexing ideas, passages, and assignments with me–at length–during my office hours.

My policies:

Active learning
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. Students on unauthorized Internet site will be asked to leave the class for that day and lose participation points for the week. Active participation may include meeting with me to confer during office hours.

What is CORE? The way the class is organized into sequential parts leading to you evaluating sources.

Late papers

Submit all assigned work on or before the start of 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 in the class the day the essays are due some of what you had written. Always back-up your work as you write, start at least a week before, and keep a printed copy of the essay you give me.

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 four sentences covering the substance of your essay for purposes of privacy because I make extensive comments on your work, that you must read in order to revise the essays. Spelling and grammar errors are unacceptable. All papers are to be typed, double spaced, in Arial or times new roman font, have one inch margins with 22 lines to the page as a minimum.

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 either insufficiently accredited or not acknowledged at all you undermine the essay’s reliability. The consequences are that you can fail the assignment, 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.


Books to read, comprehend and interpret in your essays:
booksCarroll Pursell, White Heat.
Arnold Pacey, Technology in World Civilization.
Neil Postman, Technopoly.
Charles Percy Snow, Two Cultures.
Simon Head, Mindless,



concept map is conceived | tools are defined | web of technical relations emerges

See the Blackboard class site for details.



class | writer's tips | texts | assignments | grading criteria | Rollins | Course description



Rollins College



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.


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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.” 


class | writer's tips | texts | assignments | grading criteria | Rollins | Course description


Where are we going next?

Closing remark.

We live in a world where fraud and misrepresentation are more rampant than we all 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 proficiency and perhaps our world.

Week One:

We investigate the story of Thamus

Week Two:

Pursell question and the story of Prometheus

Guide to more weeks


Pursell | Pacey | Postman | Head | Eberhart | Snow | Boulding | Tenner | Kaku



My schedule

Technology Defined

Rest of the current 2012, Syllabus


class | writer's tips | texts | assignments | grading criteria | Rollins | Course description

Tools of Toil: what to read.
Tools are historical building blocks of technology.


landscape index learn words index learn photograph index

Dictionary | Vocabulary | Advanced Vocabulary | Words | fact vs fiction | Rare words | theme vs thesis | antonyms | dialectic | obscure words