April 2012

Objectivity, science, and (a)political action

Theodore M. Porter, in Trust in Numbers, argues that the American distrust of elites — and of government itself — has led to a focus on “mechanical objectivity,” or rules to make decisions. In many ways similar to what American jurists call “procedural due process,” the idea is to diminish the necessity of personal judgement in favor of predictable, […]

November 2011

On “The Role of Technology in Human Affairs”

In The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom, Yochai Benkler discusses his vision of the role of technology in historical change. He rejects an overly deterministic vision of technology (which he connects with Lewis Mumford and Marshall McLuhan), but also rejects a view of technology as immaterial to a society’s direction.

Historians need to stop obsessing over writing books

Why are historians so obsessed with writing books?

Now that I’m on my second quarter of a PhD program in the History of Science, I am continuing to think about why I am doing this and what history (and History) has to offer, both to me and to the world at large. One concern I already have is with the apparent obsession with the book as the primary mechanism of disseminating the work of historians.