ARC 331 Forum 01: Technological Determinism

ARC 331 Forum 01: Technological Determinism

After completing Part 1 of Lesson 01, choose one of the prompts below. Write a short (150 words or fewer) post in which you provide two brief interpretations of the historical event based on each of the interpretive criteria introduced in Dr. Hilbert’s video (technological determinism and social constructivism). Title your post with the single word in all caps that corresponds with the prompt you have chosen.

  • PAGODA: The development of the pagoda in China (based on the Indian stupa precedent) (ARC 231)
  • BUTTRESS: The appearance of flying buttresses in France (ARC 231)
  • DOME: Brunelleschi’s design of the dome for Florence Cathedral (ARC 232)
  • MORRIS: John Ruskin’s writing of The Seven Lamps of Architecture (ARC 232)

Schedule

  • by Monday (1 PM): post your response
  • by Wednesday (1 PM): return to this page and review your peers’ responses; select two of them (one who posted on your topic and one on a different prompt). What can you add or suggest to help clarify or challenge their thinking on this issue?

85 Comments

  1. Reply
    Desmond Wahlfeld January 9, 2019

    DOME

    Technological Determinism:
    Brunelleschi’s design for the dome, shaped architecture in the Renaissance. His design allowed architects to build better grander structures. This innovation led to the construction of many grand churches. When designing these churches architects needed Brunelleschi’s dome in order to be built. The Florence skyline wouldn’t be the same without Brunelleschi’s dome.

    Social Constructivism:
    Brunelleschi’s design for the dome helped architects to build domes to be taller and span greater spaces. This design was adopted by many architects in designing the churches of the Renaissance. Brunelleschi’s dome is one of the many architectural innovations of the Renaissance.

    • Reply
      Aaron Foster January 15, 2019

      An important thing to consider when thinking about technological determinism is that not only was he able to build it because of the technology, but that this technology would provide for more of these to appear in other buildings because the technology is available. Also with social constructivism, it is about his choice and the choice of others whether to use this technology.

    • Reply
      Adaliz M. Carballo January 16, 2019

      You could add that it was the first octagonal dome that was built without wooden support and is still the largest masonry dome in the world.

    • Reply
      JhenniferAmundson January 17, 2019

      I’d add that, to be more of a “hard” determinist (as described by Leo Marx), that you’d need to emphasize the role of the materials and system–like, the bricks that were common in Florence, and the pointed-arch and ribbed-vault technology common as well, determined the way that Brunelleschi would build–rather than seeing him as having the agency to determine the design.

  2. Reply
    Aaron Foster January 10, 2019

    DOME

    Based on the views of technological determinism, Brunelleschi was able to construct the dome because of innovations he devised in order to make the dome successful. He was able to create a system of pulleys that could lift the heavy materials to where they were to be put in place. Without this innovation, the dome would not have been possible and would have been much lower to the ground. This creates a more advanced dome which some many say is more sacred than others. Based on social determinism, the idea of this innovation was good due to its success, but could have had many different outcomes. If the structure would have failed, falling from that height, many would have been killed from the falling debris. This technology was able to bring domes to new heights but could have also aided in more dangerous practice.

    • Reply
      Brooke Nickell January 15, 2019

      I agree that the idea was good due to its success but I think that Social Constructivism has to do more with the fact that it was Brunelleschi who affected history by his design of the dome, rather than the technology of the dome’s construction.

    • Reply
      Jarod Pletcher January 16, 2019

      Though it is important to keep in mind that there could have been several outcomes to the construction of Brunelleschi’s Dome, I think that the interpretation you have presented for technological determinism is actually more closely aligned with social determinism. This is due to the fact that you’ve acknowledged the innovations that humans had to make, such as the pulley system, in order to accomplish this. Technological determinism would remove the human innovation from the process all together, acknowledging only the inevitable forward progress of building technology.

    • Reply
      JhenniferAmundson January 17, 2019

      Reconsider the basic assumption, within the hard-determinist point of view. Giving agency to the technology would support that the stuff that Brunelleschi had at his disposal imposed themselves on the design process–it wasn’t his choice or decision as much as an obvious adaptation of what had already been developed. Brooke is right in saying this is a social constructivist point of view, that we give B. credit as designer who manipulated these things.

  3. Reply
    Max Starcevich January 10, 2019

    BUTTRESS

    From a technological determinist viewpoint, the flying buttress in France would invariably lead to larger windows and taller walls. Because the buttress allowed thrust from vaults to pass through them instead of vertically through the interior wall of the church, the churches’ walls would inevitably be made thinner and more transparent.

    From a social constructivist viewpoint, the flying buttress itself was the result of a growing understanding (though unproven mathematically at the time) that a catenary curve is stronger than a semicircular arch. Larger windows and thinner walls were not inevitable, rather, they were a result of a both new opportunity and human choice.

    • Reply
      Aaron Foster January 15, 2019

      It is interesting, though in that bigger window could arguably be seen as more beautiful than smaller windows because of the picturesque and natural qualities. Therefore it leads more towards a progressive path, although this is not always the case.

    • Reply
      Jarod Pletcher January 16, 2019

      I agree with the realization that the larger windows and thinner walls were not inevitable, due to the invention of the flying buttress. Builders could have just as easily chose to keep the amount of natural light entering the buildings the same, even with improved structural support, but their theological beliefs and desire to exemplify the glory of God in window designs created the enormous stained glass windows, for which the Gothic churches are known.

    • Reply
      JhenniferAmundson January 17, 2019

      Max, you’re definitely right with the first part; however I would go even farther with your social constructivism, and look to the people who had reason to be interested in the greater efficiencies that the catenary curve could offer. In short: what human need inspired people to think about these efficiencies of structure to allow more windows? Jarod makes a good point in reminding us that the changes were not inevitable; that’s always an important question to ask: did this change HAVE to happen? What really is the source or prompt for it?

  4. Reply
    Andrew Rogers January 12, 2019

    When Brunelleschi designed the dome of the Florence Cathedral it was unheard of. The size and weight of it had not been done which caused much concern. When Brunelleschi designed this dome, technology had to be invented to construct it. For example, larger scaffolding was used than every before. One way to look at this situation is technological determinism. This idea would be that because this design was made, the technology had to be improved. Because it was improved larger domes inevitably would be popping up in other places around the country and other countries. The second way to think abut this is social constructivism. This idea is looking at this situation in a different way. Because the technology is now present to construct larger domes, people now have the choice to either use this new technology to create larger domes or stick to the current norm of smaller domes.

    • Reply
      Chloe Burkhart January 15, 2019

      I think the social constructivism side would present more that just the two options you presented. In fact, I think it would present unlimited possibilities. From the new dome design, designers could learn any one thing about it (no matter how small), and incorporate that into a newer design; whether that be another type of dome, or a completely different thing.

    • Reply
      Paulette Romero January 16, 2019

      The technology used for constructing bigger domes represent technological determinism since the outcome of this technological advance is positive. It is the result of architects, builders, etc in order to find this technology a progress was made. What I would consider as the social constructivism of domes is that the people in charge of building domes have to go through some meticulous process since its shape is more complicated than the forms that were used before. Either way, it’s shape was also complicated enough to be admired.

    • Reply
      JhenniferAmundson January 17, 2019

      Andrew, flip your thinking: it’s social constructivism that recognizes a human need, and then recognizes that humans solve problems–sometimes inventing new technologies; sometimes adapting old ones.

  5. Reply
    Elizabeth Van Bruggen January 12, 2019

    BUTTRESS

    In France as builders were designing new buildings they wanted to build taller and let more light in, at the same time they did not want to build the base of the structure with heavy and thick materials and were in search of a way to accomplish this goal.

    I think that the invention of the buttress to help translate loads of the structure is an example of social constructivism because it was the people who designed and thought up what they wanted to happen and the technology that then was created to help accomplish this goal.

    On the other hand, it may be considered technological determinism because there were materials/the technologies available to accomplish their goals but they had not yet put the pieces together to then create buildings with buttresses.

    • Reply
      Desmond Wahlfeld January 15, 2019

      Elizabeth, I like the perspective that buttresses were an example of social constructivism and that people figured out how to pinpoint these loads and apply additional support to these stress points. Additionally to go with your statement on technological determinism maybe these same structures that utilize buttresses couldn’t be built until the invention of the buttress.

    • Reply
      Grant Bradman January 15, 2019

      Elizabeth I completely agree with how you looked at this technological advance. On the one had it was humans that had the ability to do this all the time but then with the new technology it became more present, and then on the other hand everything they needed was there all the time they just needed some pushing to get there.

    • Reply
      Adaliz Carballo January 16, 2019

      I think you could add that the buttress is external support, usually of masonry, that projects from the wall and serves to reinforce it or to resist the lateral thrust created by the load on an arch or a roof. In addition to their practical functions, buttresses can be decorative, both by themselves and by the designs carved or built on them.

    • Reply
      Emma Okesson January 16, 2019

      I agree with you that social constructivism makes more sense because the technology was put together with a goal (bigger windows, more light). Even if the technology had existed before its use in churches, it still was applied to churches by people who determined the use of the technology. So even if the technology emerged far before its application, I think social constructivism still is more logical simply because it requires human desire and effort for the technology to be implemented in a specific way.

    • Reply
      JhenniferAmundson January 17, 2019

      Elizabeth, I’d emphasize, under your tech/det, that the materials and techniques somehow imposed themselves on the process; likewise, ask yourself under soc/con, what was the “goal” people had that was answered by structural developments? Grant, same with your point: remember that people had this “ability” for a LONG time before they bothered to use it. Why did it happen in France around 1100? Adaliz, to add to your ideas: do you imagine that people were more interested in the aesthetic or structural qualities of the buttress, and to what extent did that encourage their developments? And Emma, why bigger windows? What’s better about more light?No one seemed to mind those dark(er) churches since they were started under Constantine.

  6. Reply
    Adam Wise January 12, 2019

    DOME: From the perspective of Technological Determinism, the Duomo happened as a necessary result of the existence of its base technologies. It is important to note that many if not all of the technologies used in the creation of such a dome were already in existence (tensile chain reinforcing) (banded vaults) (round and pointed domes). As such, it was only a matter of time before they were combined to produce such revolutionary results. It was to happen at some point, inevitably. The Social Constructivist viewpoint, however, would argue that it was only through the genius of Brunelleschi, his conscious choice to make a double-shelled dome, etc. that such technologies were applied in the manner that they were to produce such a specific result.

    • Reply
      Elizabeth January 14, 2019

      Could one argue that Brunelleschi knew about various dome designs, but was commissioned to make something even more grand and so he came up with his design by use of various structural ideas he had known of and wanted to push them to there max potential which did not work and thus new technology needed to be implemented to complete the task creating yet another possibility by combining a social constructivist and technological determinist view?

    • Reply
      Desmond Wahlfeld January 15, 2019

      Adam, I really like how you expanded on the other technologies that were developed in order to complete this dome, it’s interesting to think about all the minor inventions/innovations that assist in the completion of many technological advancements.

    • Reply
      JhenniferAmundson January 17, 2019

      Adam, good inventory of the stuff that was already available and waiting for its “inevitable” combination, weighed against the way we tend to look at the design, as a manifestation of Brunelleschi’s inventive genius. Elizabeth, I don’t see the tech/det angle in your suggestion–can you clarify? Also Desmond, are you aware of your tech/det point of view by saying the “innovations assist”? The thing we want to sort out here is is they really have that agency, or should we put more emphasis on Brunelleschi’s selection of those innovations?

  7. Reply
    Grant Bradman January 13, 2019

    BUTTRESS

    With the new technology of the flying buttress churches, specifically gothic were able to push the limits on form and space. One way to look at the buttress is that with the new technology more buildings and churches are going to begin to use the buttress to open up their space with arches and taller ceilings. Another way to look at the buttress is that with the new technology to be able to open up the space, people will now have the option of having a smaller or a larger church without being restricted.

    • Reply
      Caleb Rutter January 14, 2019

      I also looked into the appearance of flying buttresses and I think that your point about people having the option in the future to build with less restrictions is a better way to look at the technology of the buttress. I think it is difficult to claim that this new tool for construction is directly forcing people to make specific design decisions. Rather it is an example of social constructivism because people have freedom to make choices based on the new technology available to them.

    • Reply
      Elizabeth January 14, 2019

      I think that if the invention of the buttress were to be considered technological determinism then indeed it was the technology pushing the design, but why would they design the buttress if they had no prior need for it so thus the design pushed the technology to match what had been designed more like social constructivism if you ask me.

    • Reply
      Abacuc Rodriguez January 15, 2019

      Hey Grant I agree with your insight on the new technology on the flying buttress. This new technology did give architects a chance to push the limits and it opened up more design possibilities. Your thoughts easy to understand, but next time I would be more clear on what is Technological Determinism and Social Constructivism.

    • Reply
      Jordan T January 16, 2019

      Emphasizing the option of not using this new technology exhibits the social constuctivist side of things really well. The tool that technology can be adds more potential but isn’t always suited to every circumstance or need.

    • Reply
      JhenniferAmundson January 17, 2019

      Grant, when you note that the “new technology of the flying buttress churches” push[es] the limits on form and space,” do you mean to say that’s all the work of the tech itself? If you take the social/con stance, who guides the “push” and why? Elizabeth, you’re right to ask “why would they design the buttress?” People had been building churches for centuries; why did this new thing happen around 1100 in France? Abacuc you sound committed to the tech/det point of view :the new tech “gave architects” the capacity to do something that they couldn’t do on their own.

  8. Reply
    Brooke Nickell January 13, 2019

    DOME
    Brunelleschi’s dome on the cathedral of Santa Maria Del Fiore was extremely innovative in its construction. From the perspective of technological determinism the technology of the construction methods made the dome possible. Without the double shelled the unique assembly of the construction of on octagonal dome so high in the air would have been impossible or in the least an undertaking of massive proportions to construct the dome in a traditional manner which involved scaffolding. However from the point of view of social constructivism the construction of the dome was only possible because of the variety of training that Brunelleschi had experienced throughout his life of sketching and drawing and working with various materials through his occupation of a goldsmith that made it possible for him to devise the plan for the dome.

    • Reply
      Max Starcevich January 14, 2019

      Brooke, I think the example of Brunelleschi’s dome is especially useful in depicting what I see as downside to technological determinism. The history of a double shell dome must be altered to fit the determinist narrative: someone made a double-shell dome, and then it was applied to the Santa Maria Del Fiore. Of course, that isn’t what happened. Instead, the building’s design required that a new technology be developed.

    • Reply
      JhenniferAmundson January 17, 2019

      Brooke, let’s parse that first sentence: is the dome itself innovative? or does it reveal/manifest innovation? Max I’d even strengthen your language: to be full-on tech/det, you’d drop the person, and say that the double-shell emerged, obviously, from a confluence of non-human factors.

  9. Reply
    Caleb Rutter January 13, 2019

    The introduction of buttresses was an important technological advancement that allowed for the construction of taller cathedrals, as well as other buildings that followed. One way that buttresses could be interpreted as a contributor to technological determinism is that because of this new discovery it was a given that more cathedrals would follow this pattern. The direct result of the discovery of how buttresses transfer loads to the ground will be more cathedrals extending to great heights. However, buttresses could also be independent of the decisions people make which is social constructivism. People’s desire to create more extravagant churches is fulfilled by the use of a buttress, but the buttress itself is just a tool to attain that goal. Stylistic changes throughout history can grow in different directions because of this new tool, but it did not innately cause the design choices of all buildings that followed its introduction.

    • Reply
      Monica Medina January 15, 2019

      You make a very good point when talking about how the buttresses allowed from the construction of taller cathedrals! The buttresses added stability to the surrounding walls as well as reinforced the structure. I think you’re right, with this new innovation, it allowed people to see the endless possibilities when it comes to building and designing. Other than this innovation just helping by allowing people to build higher, it also added the ability to create more space in the area they already had. Because of this ceiling space could be utilized, creating better acoustics and aesthetic appeal.

    • Reply
      Brooke Nickell January 15, 2019

      Great response Caleb, I would add that in the view of technological determinism the buttress was a contributor but also the catalyst for taller walls and bigger windows because of the thrust forces.

    • Reply
      Parker Done January 16, 2019

      To me it seems like both arguments are equally valid in considering the buttress. Originally, the buttress was developed from the desire to build taller cathedrals. In turn, the introduction of this technology made this want a realistic possibility.

    • Reply
      JhenniferAmundson January 17, 2019

      Caleb, your statement “People’s desire to create more extravagant churches is fulfilled by the use of a buttress, but the buttress itself is just a tool to attain that goal” is a great summary of the soc/con point of view. Meanwhile Brooke: yes, seeing the buttress as an agent of change in and of itself, a catalyst for change, is strong on the tech/det side.

  10. Reply
    MORRIS January 13, 2019

    The Seven Lamps of Architecture by John Ruskin focuses on the Gothic Revival and it breaks it down into seven lamps. Ruskin was very against traditional architecture and he championed for asymmetrical and rough architecture throughout Europe. His book focused on the Gothic Revival throughout Europe. Because of this book there could come good and bad and this is technological determinism. The good is that this book lays out the proper aspects that should be incorporated in Gothic Architecture, so it gives an outline. The bad is that it only promotes Gothic Architecture and it ignores other types of architecture. With social constructivism this book is a tool that people can use when they design a building with Gothic elements.

    • Reply
      Connor Brown January 16, 2019

      I would hypothesize the reason why John Ruskin ultimately decided to focus on Gothic revival is because much of its style stayed true to handcrafted work in oppose to a substitution of machine generated work. When he wrote about the seven lamps of architecture, the second lamp of truth is perhaps the most important when discussing technological determinism and because its tools led to “dishonest work.”

    • Reply
      JhenniferAmundson January 17, 2019

      Not sure who made the original post. But also not sure where you get the idea that Ruskin was “against traditional architecture”–he didn’t like Classicism, but very much favored medieval vernacular buildings. Connor, good detail that you bring up–when Arts and Crafts writers blame machines and materials for bad design, they are leaning in the tech/det direction.

  11. Reply
    Gabe David January 13, 2019

    DOME
    When looking at this historical event from the eyes of technological determinism, in which technology determines the outcome of whatever situation is it being used for, Brunelleschi already had the solution to his problem laid out for him. When no one else could solve the issue of how to get a dome atop the Santa Maria del Fiore, it was up to Brunelleschi to devise a solution. He utilized his knowledge of ancient Roman construction and Gothic traditions. Utilizing a Gothic pointed arch as to reduce the amount of outward thrust as to not burst the drum. To solve the issue of dead load he employed a double shell of concentric ribs. A technique he took note of as something similar was used in the construction of the Pantheon. All this to say, Brunelleschi looked to already existing examples of how he could solve his problem. The technology and methods already existed. He sorted and experimented with applications that he knew the technology already worked in. He applied and combined the different technologies in order to solve the specific problem that he was working on. In this instance since the past examples were already proven to work, the technology determined that the outcome of Brunelleschi’s dome would be a success. From a social constructivist point of view, in which technology can have varying outcomes, the design committee that commissioned the construction of the dome looked to the best architects they could find to solve the problem. The technology is utilized and accepted based on the needs of the society. Society should dictate the outcome of how the technology is implemented. In this instance the committee in charge, which you could call the society, left the use and application of the technology in the most capable hands they could find. Society chose the best designer to adapt the technology as beneficially, and as suitably as they could. Had they went with someone other than Brunelleschi, so many other outcomes may have taken place. The dome could have been a different shape, size, or maybe never installed at all. So many outcomes and possibilities all stemming from social construction.

    • Reply
      Joanna Pelley January 15, 2019

      I had not considered the design committee to be the “society” part of social constructivism, but it truly is! Brunelleschi’s design would have simply been an interesting footnote in history if the committee had preferred a different design. I had previously considered architects to be the deciding factor in this case, but as always, the client is has the final say.

    • Reply
      JhenniferAmundson January 17, 2019

      It is interesting to think of the two options here: Brunelleschi’s kit of parts was ready to be arranged, vs. Brunelleschi was the only person who recognized how to put that stuff together to please his client.

  12. Reply
    jacob collins January 13, 2019

    I think that Brunelleschi’s design of the done for the Florence Cathedral is an example of taking a technology that had already been thought of and tweaking it just enough and combining it with newer technologies to create something that works even better than the original, the original being the dome being the dome from the Pantheon in Rome. I think that the advances in technology in between these two time periods that the two domes were built pushed the design for the dome on the Florence Cathedral to be even bigger and more grand that the pantheon

    • Reply
      Andrew Rogers January 15, 2019

      Jacob, I agree with you that this design was a amplified version of past domes. I think it would be valuable for you to evaluate the two ideas and how they tie into the dome designed by Brunelleschi. What effects did the design of the dome have on the future of dome construction and why?

    • Reply
      Parker J Done January 16, 2019

      In terms of social constructivism, it is important to consider the effects of the technology on display in the Florence dome. Think about how the presence of this new dome inspired architectural trends.

    • Reply
      JhenniferAmundson January 17, 2019

      Jacob, do those “advances in technology” exist on their own, or in the context of human innovation? Therein lies the crux of the definitions/interpretations of history.

  13. Reply
    Jarod Pletcher January 13, 2019

    DOME
    There are multiple different interpretations of any given historical event, particularly those concerning the creation or rediscovery of a technological innovation or architectural feature. One such event would be the designing of Brunelleschi’s dome for the Florence Cathedral. One interpretation of this event might be one that aligns with technological determinism. It would imply that the design of the dome was the inevitable final evolution of the catenary arch and vaults of Gothic churches into a dome, just as the half-round arch had given way to the barrel vault, and finally the hemispherical dome for the Romans. Such an interpretation lacks humanity in its explanation though. A more complete interpretation can be made by social constructivism. It implies that Brunelleschi’s design was a genius composite of the work done by architects throughout the middle ages to bring increased efficiency to structure, while meeting the need for an un-buttressed dome, a need created by a shifting cultural and aesthetic views of Italians in the fifteenth century at the dawn of the Renaissance.

    • Reply
      JhenniferAmundson January 17, 2019

      Jarod: yes; anytime the thing seems “inevitable,” you are in the land of tech/det. You need messy people in the mix (with the shifting culture etc) to see the social/con point of view–which is always more complicated.

  14. Reply
    Chloe Burkhart January 13, 2019

    PAGODA

    From a technological determinism standpoint, someone might believe that pagodas are good because they are newer than their precedent, the stupa, and therefore an improvement. Since the technology of the pagoda is more advanced than the stupa, the pagoda is superior.

    Because social constructivism refuses to choose whether something is solely good or bad, someone with this viewpoint might say that neither the pagoda nor the stupa is better than the other. They both have their strengths: for example, they represent different cultures, provide different experiences, and highlight different construction methods. It is important to remember that a social constructivist would also point out weaknesses too, since nothing is totally good.

    • Reply
      Jordan T January 16, 2019

      I really appreciate the distinction you’ve made about identifying weaknesses. It really helps ground whatever technology is being discussed in its usefulness as a tool, not as just some progressing. It also mandates human involvment in the evaluation of technology, which is something I think is pretty neccessary for social constructivism.

    • Reply
      Paulette Romero January 16, 2019

      I like how you explain how from a technological determinism point of view, it is irrefutable that a pagoda is a positive change, and it represents technology opening doors to taller buildings. I also like how you explain the social constructivism point of view, but i would probably add that a way that this technology is negative is the material of what its constructed. Wood permits taller buildings but not stronger to natural disasters.

    • Reply
      JhenniferAmundson January 17, 2019

      If we think of stupa & padoga sharing the same function, what do you make of the different construction systems seen in them? Was it inevitable that pagodas look as they do? Why did the Chinese Buddhists change their inherited precedent?

  15. Reply
    Monica Medina January 14, 2019

    PAGODA

    A way that technological determinism could be seen in the construction for a pagoda is how they began to build this tall structure, based on an Indian stupa precedent. Based on the technology that they had, they were able to build taller and more securely.

    A way that social constructivism could play a role in the pagoda is the way society chose to utilize the information of brand new technology. Technology has different outcomes, and these outcomes are chosen by how proactive one chooses to be. Being encountered with different technology could have gone in many different directions, but society chose to take this technology and build higher to produce different types of structures, which led to the pagoda.

    • Reply
      Andrew Rogers January 15, 2019

      Monica, I appreciate that you were very clear with your two ideas. I am curious if the construction of pagodas were based directly from stupas or if it was more of the idea and meaning.

    • Reply
      Chloe Burkhart January 15, 2019

      An example of the more advanced technology of the pagoda creating a different structural outcome from a stupa is its timber construction. The timber makes it possible for the pagoda to provide its viewers with a different experience than the stupa. Although people are still able to walk around and on a stupa, since it is made of solid earth, people aren’t able to go inside; but the timber construction of a pagoda allows for people to enter.

    • Reply
      JhenniferAmundson January 17, 2019

      I appreciate that this string is getting to the issue of the structural material. How do we see its use as tech/det and/or soc/con?

  16. Reply
    Emma Okesson January 14, 2019

    DOME

    Technological Determinism: The technology of interlocking bricks to create a double shelled dome prompted Brunelleschi to create the dome for Florence Cathedral.

    Social Construction of Technology: The people of Florence wanted to create a space in honor of God that matched the glory of ancient Rome. The cathedral of Florence was initially built with space for a span of 144′ but the technology to create a dome that spanned that gap did not exist. Because of the social desire to finish the dome, the technology of self-supporting, interlocking bricks was developed by Brunelleschi to create the dome.

    • Reply
      Caleb Rutter January 14, 2019

      I think something to consider when looking at Technological Determinism vs Social Constructivism is the impact the new technology had for future construction and designs. How did the Florence dome cause future domes to be built in a similar manner with a similar focus on size? Did this new means of construction directly cause later domes to be built the same way, or was it just a new idea with potential that future designers could choose to use or not to use?

    • Reply
      Grant Bradman January 15, 2019

      I like how in the social construction theory you state that the people had a need and then the dome came as a response to that need. It’s a really good way of picking it apart and looking at it.

    • Reply
      Adam Wise January 16, 2019

      I think the conceptualization of Technological Determinism is at its weakest when applied to complex scenarios, such as with the Duomo. The interlocking bricks were incredibly important, but along with those was the application myriad other additional technologies. When one starts to consider the scope of the problem and the scope of the decision making (by the culture and individual) that occurred alongside the application of those technologies, it gets harder and harder to view the issue as a simple matter of destined unified technological application. Social Constructivism gets this point in my book.

    • Reply
      JhenniferAmundson January 17, 2019

      Good string here … I am curious Adam, what might be simple “scenarios” that you’d interpret differently?

  17. Reply
    Diana Romeo January 14, 2019

    PAGODA

    For the technological determinism that Dr. Hilbery explains, is the way that technology gives shape to the society, the outcome is determine by the technology. In the case of the pagoda, the technology that is used in this structure is determine as good. Pagodas are built of wood so they can resist earthquakes. This technology appliance has a positive outcome. Then, as describes for Dr. Hilbert, Technology can be neither good or bad As the social construction of technology states. This will depend on how we use this tool, not necessarily is the fault of the tool. We can say that the way pagodas are built are efficient against nature in certain way but at the same time is not resistant to another natural factors and this can’t determime this technology as specifically good or bad.

    • Reply
      Monica Medina January 15, 2019

      You mentioned that Pagodas are built out of wood therefore being able to resist earthquakes. That is a good point, but also because of the innovation of a pagoda, they were inspired to begin to build higher, because like you said, they determined the structure as good and saw how efficient this building type was.

    • Reply
      JhenniferAmundson January 17, 2019

      So do you see the common use of timber in China as responding to tech/det (because it is the obvious solution to possible earthquakes) or social/con (because people are used to timber, bracketed architecture)?

  18. Reply
    Jordan T January 14, 2019

    The development of the pagoda in China from an Indian stupa precedent provides ground for technological determinism. The transition from stupa to pagoda can be merely a story of how earthen construction was surpassed in structural capabilities by wood construction. However, I believe this view (and technological determinism as a whole) treats technology as its own entity, which it physically can not be. It requires human interaction.
    The birth of the pagoda may be more strongly defined as an example of social constructivism. Earthen construction was likely typical for the rural Chinese population, however, much of their city architecture was composed of intricate and ornately detailed wood construction. The move for the pagoda from stupa form can be interpreted as an integration of the stupa into the wooden Chinese cityscape, the people using their knowledge of wood construction to adopt the stupa into their own culture.

    • Reply
      Joanna Pelley January 15, 2019

      While I agree that the technology of wooden construction allowed for different (or better) structural capabilities than previous earthen construction methods, I think there is more to technological determinism than that. In my understanding, determinism does not just say that technology advances, it says that technology MUST advance in a certain way because of the circumstances (available technology) surrounding it. Technological determinism says that combining existing Chinese building methods, knowledge of Indian stupa construction, and a need for sturdier, more earthquake resistant buildings will inevitably create the pagoda. A social constructionism viewpoint would suggest many possible ways this could have gone, many options, but society preferred this one.

    • Reply
      Adam Wise January 16, 2019

      The statement that technology cannot act on its own is true. However, I don’t believe that’s what Technological Determinism is trying to get at, necessarily. I see it as more of an issue of human nature in that humans, from a very broad view, have a sometimes very predictable way of reacting to things (in this case technology). The top-down perspective of Technological Determinism disregards the agency of people in favor of that predictability. It’s sensible to predict that humans would replace earthen construction with more efficient timber construction from many cultural background standpoints. So, in this case, maybe technological determinism holds up to a degree. Of course, humans aren’t always entirely predictable, and so in order to support such a worldview, one would have to be very selective in choosing their evidence.

    • Reply
      JhenniferAmundson January 17, 2019

      This is a good string, and Adam raises some provocative ideas at the end. Are you suggesting that, from this point of view, humans are predictable cogs that can be counted on to do one thing or another , so they don’t really embody the agency that a social/con point of view would expect?

  19. Reply
    Joanna Pelley January 14, 2019

    DOME
    According to a technological determinism outlook, the design for the dome on the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore was the inevitable progression for technology to take. Filippo Brunelleschi had knowledge of both contemporary Gothic architectural technology and classical Roman dome technology. The combination of knowledge plus the design challenges of the conceptual design together created the new method and design that became influential to architectural development. Brunelleschi was simply the cross-point where the technology came together to accomplish a dome. A social constructionism viewpoint, which I think fits the progression of events better, says that the contemporary architects (the society for purposes of this discussion) desired a new style of building and therefore looked for new technology to accomplish it. The knowledge to accomplish it already existed, but needed the onus of desire in order to push it in this direction. Society shaped and moved construction technology.

    • Reply
      Connor Brown January 16, 2019

      I agree that the driving force for the design of the dome was a combination of knowledge and challenge. With the advancement of dome construction technology by Brunelleschi, it created a desire in people to complete even larger challenging domes in order to follow this social architectural trend. Technological knowledge influenced the decision to explore further along this path.

    • Reply
      Emma Okesson January 16, 2019

      One clarification could be made: if I remember correctly part of the trouble the people of Florence had with spanning the gap available for the dome was that the classical Roman dome technology had been lost. Brunelleschi actually had to use an innovative system of interlocking, self-supporting bricks to create the dome which was his idea. I think that this information strengthens the idea that people drove the development of technology, rather than technology driving society.

    • Reply
      JhenniferAmundson January 17, 2019

      Probably, the design of the dome itself was not as restrictive as the issue of building centering to support the construction as it progressed. A related, but distinct issue: was the self-centering construction somehow inevitable, or something else?

  20. Reply
    Parker Done January 14, 2019

    DOME

    In examining the technological feat that was Brunelleschi’s Dome for the Florence Cathedral, there are two ways of interpreting its presence based on technological determinism or social constructivism. On the side of technological determinism, the advancement in dome construction technology introduced by Brunelleschi in this structure created a desire and ability to create more massive domes to follow. The technology, under this interpretation, became the driving force in dome construction after the Florence Cathedral which was now a precedent that drove a social/architectural trend. On the side of social constructivism, the technological advancement that made the Florence dome possible was driven by an existing desire to build a more massive dome. Based on this philosophy, a social want or perceived need influenced the development of the technology, instead of the other way around.

    • Reply
      Gabe David January 15, 2019

      Do you think that it is important to address the examples of technology that had already worked in the past, which Brunelleschi took inspiration from? Such as the Pantheon or Gothic pointed arches, as other examples of technology determinism.

    • Reply
      JhenniferAmundson January 17, 2019

      Parker, to clarify the issue, it’s not enough to think about the impact/influence the dome had later; we need to think about it within its own context. Was its design inevitable? or did it require specific agency by people, or one person?

  21. Reply
    Connor Brown January 14, 2019

    MORRIS
    Viewing technological determinism from John Ruskin’s Seven Lamps of Architecture, I would interpret it as subtly encouraging a violation of his second lamp of truth; handcrafted honest display of material and structure. Architecture guided by technology starts to lead down a path of operative deceit where handcrafted work is substituted with that of a cast or a machine. The consequences of this lead to a world where architecture is sapped of its vitality. The dishonesty of cast and machine work is sufficient reason to reject it. Thus, we must maintain a firm moral stance on the extent of use with our new innovations of technology lest we fall under their dictatorship. From a social constructivist interpretation, it would be our social responsibility to make sure architectural technology is used to the benefit of society. We shape our own tools, therefore technology does not determine the outcome; we do.

    • Reply
      Max Starcevich January 14, 2019

      Connor, I wonder if the technological determinist would say that Ruskin’s book was a result of the rapid growth of technology/industrial processes. I think there is some truth in that. If not for the growing prevalence of the machine, would Ruskin have written his book? If he did write it, would it be the same? I suppose the questions themselves show the fruitless nature of too much historical conjecture.

    • Reply
      Gabe David January 15, 2019

      What should the ratio be of handcrafted works to machine made items? Should they be equal, or should the amount of handcrafted products being put out always be higher than machine made products?

    • Reply
      JhenniferAmundson January 17, 2019

      Max, interesting notion: was the Arts and Crafts an inevitable backlash against Industrialism?
      PS Fruitless historical conjecture is one of my favorite hobbies.

  22. Reply
    Abacuc Rodriguez January 15, 2019

    Connor you have very clear thoughts that made me think more critically about Ruskin’s book. Since Ruskin’s Seven Lamps of Architecture is focused on the Gothic Revival don’t you think that instead of promoting machine over handcrafted, it is instead promoting Gothic architecture over other forms of architecture?

  23. Reply
    Taylor Wills May 2, 2019

    DOME

    Technological Determinism: This interpretation would state that the technology of the dome would promote Brunelleschi’s design of this one. That because of the materials and technology available at the time, the Duomo was inevitable.

    Social Constructivism: Brunelleschi’s push to create the dome allowed for the creation of future domes. Brunelleschi actually did not originally have the technology to build structure and thus the technology was developed to do so and assigned that function and meaning.

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