DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY
History 398 - Fall 2004
Technologies and Their Societies: Historical Perspectives
Third Essay - Final Exercise
Write an essay of about 2000 words on ONE of the following questions. Your answer should reflect your knowledge of the readings and lectures through the choice of appropriate examples to document and illustrate your argument. The essay is due by 3:00 PM, 17 January, in your preceptor's box in the History Office, 129 Dickinson Hall. Extensions may be granted only by an appropriate Dean or Director of Studies. Be sure you sign the correct pledge as given below. Your signature affixed to this pledge attests that you have read and understand the provisions set forth in Academic Integrity at Princeton.
|(Part A) Both of the pictured artifacts may be said to embody "architectures" in the sense used by Lessig in Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace.
What technological systems developed in the 19th century to make it
possible for Metropolitan Life Insurance Company of New
York profitably to provide insurance to masses of industrial
workers? How are
those systems reflected both in the architecture of the company's
headquarters pictured on the left and in the "architecture"
behind the flyer pictured on the right? Support your claims with
references to the
lectures and assigned texts.
(Part B) Consider as artifacts now the digitized images which make up this question and which you are accessing via Princeton's server with your personal computer. Again, what architectures are involved, and how is your experience contingent upon them? Again, support your claims with specific references to the lectures and assigned texts.
( Olivier Zunz, Making America Corporate: 1870-1920, plate 8; click on picture to enlarge)
The modern consumer society took definitive shape when in the later 19th century systems of mass production and mass consumption began to offer customers such "consumer durables" as sewing machines, typewriters, bicycles, and automobiles. One may say that technology itself then became a commodity, as machines of production became vehicles of leisure. In light of that historical development, discuss how information has become a commodity, objectified in that most recent of consumer durables, the personal computer. How has information fit into systems of mass production and mass distribution, both as technological component and as end product, and how does an emphasis on information alter our understanding of those systems? What light does Lawrence Lessig shed on the question in Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace?
"This paper represents my own work in accordance with University regulations."