Weekly Writing

Weekly Writing

Please read the following:

  • Misa, Chapter 2
  • Doolard, Roll Back the Sea (excerpts)
  • Wiebe Bijker, "The Oosterschelde Storm Barrier," Technology and Culture 43 (2002): 569-584. (All readings available on Blackboard in the additional readings folder)

Throughout his book, Leonardo to the Internet: Technology & Culture from the Renaissance to the Present, Thomas Misa issues several sweeping yet profound statements. One such statement, found on p. 40, describes the Dutch Cargo Fluyt ship as “an artifact shaped by commerce.” Shortly thereafter in the same chapter, Misa issues another statement: “If the Dutch did not exactly invent capitalism, they created the first society where the principles of commerce and capitalism pervaded the culture.” (p. 43) While this is indeed the case, it is interesting to note that Dutch society exhibits a number of unique, generalized traits which include an unusually high degree of cultural tolerance as well as the ability to politically and socially cohere around specific issues that impact societal survival. Based on the assigned readings and the in-class lectures, please address the following points in a well-written, 300-400 word essay (feel free to exceed that amount if you have more to say):

1. Identify at least two (2) technological artifacts (other than the Fluyt ship) that were shaped by Dutch commerce.

2. In his essay, Bijker uses the term "Delta School." What is the Delta School and what role did it play in the construction of the Oosterschelde Storm Barrier?

3. In both Bijker's essay and Doolaard's novel, numerous examples of tacit knowledge are on display. Identify at least one (1) example of tacit knowledge from each source (two [2] examples total) and explain how the examples you chose are representative of tacit knowledge.

4. Choose to answer either A or B below:

A. Opinion question — no right or wrong answer: In Doolaard's novel, Roll Back the Sea, the character of Andre van Hummel states that he can only engage in the practice of engineering if it is involved in construction, not destruction (see in particular page 427). As we saw in Renaissance Italy, many engineers, including da Vinci, engaged in practices to develop weapons of war in order to maintain employment. Consider the following questions: 1) What do you believe should be the primary goal of the discipline of engineering? 2) As an aspiring engineer, what types of projects or employment do you wish to eventually be engaged in?

B. Opinion question — no right or wrong answer: In Bijker's essay, he documents how the adoption and successful execution of the Delta Plan was made possible by an immense expression of political and social will by The Netherlands. Identify at least two (2) major technological/engineering undertakings from around the globe that you believe required similar expressions of national will.

In this essay, as in all essays for this course, use examples from the readings and class lectures to support your arguments. When quoting text, always include the author’s name and page number where you found the quote. For example: Misa, p. 41; Doolaard, p.187; or Bijker, p. 570

 

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