Ids Paper 3

Topics: Steam engine, Internal combustion engine, Traction engine Pages: 4 (1015 words) Published: April 14, 2015
John Lewis
IDS 103
Paper #3
3/16/15

In the book, Down the Asphalt Path, Clay McShane constructed an argument trying to disprove the theory of “technological determinism”. This is the idea that technology influences society, society doesn’t influence technology. Although the author has many views against the premise, he is not entirely correct. In my opinion, the car shaped the landscape of American cities. More arguments can be made to prove technological determinism and how it has changed society.

McShane’s argument against the theory of technological determinism was strongly displayed within each chapter of the book. He constructed his argument using different factors. Within each reason he was able to clearly demonstrate the idea that “it’s not just technology effecting culture, but also culture effects technology.” In one of his arguments he constructed, he stated “the present epidemic has brought us face to face with the startling fact that the sudden loss of horse labor would totally disorganize industry.” With this example he made it clear that society wouldn’t allow the disappearance of horses, which is also the manipulation of technology. He made many arguments like this demonstrating exactly how different major aspects in society affected the growth of technology.

McShane’s argument of society shaping technology was clearing seen through his examples in chapter Five, The Failure of the Steam Automobile. In this chapter McShane describes the history of the steam automobile tracing back as far as 1805 with a forerunner of the Model –T called the Orukter Amphiboles. The idea of the car was welcomed, but the product that people were seeing made society more skeptical. Steam automobiles were loud, heavy, and inefficient. People clearly would not stand for such a product. The idea of cars burning bushels of coal per trip was unwelcomed, as well as how dirty the engines were. The perceived dangers of a steam boiler engine were one of the larger...
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