Download A Culture of Improvement: Technology and the Western by Robert Friedel PDF

By Robert Friedel

Why does know-how swap through the years, how does it swap, and what distinction does it make? during this sweeping, formidable examine one thousand years of Western event, Robert Friedel argues that technological swap comes mostly during the pursuit of improvement--the deep-rooted trust that issues will be performed in a greater method. What Friedel calls the "culture of development" is manifested on a daily basis within the methods humans perform their initiatives in life--from tilling fields and elevating kids to waging war.Improvements could be ephemeral or lasting, and one person's development won't consistently be seen as such through others. Friedel stresses the social methods wherein we outline what advancements are and judge which advancements will final and so as to now not. those methods, he emphasizes, have created either winners and losers in history.Friedel provides a chain of narratives of Western know-how that commence within the 11th century and stretch into the twenty-first. generic figures from the background of invention are joined via others--the Italian preacher who defined the 1st eyeglasses, the dairywomen displaced from their keep an eye on over cheesemaking, and the little-known engineer who first urged a grand tower to Gustav Eiffel. Friedel strains expertise from the plow and the printing press to the interior combustion engine, the transistor, and the gap trip. Friedel additionally reminds us that religion in development can occasionally have bad results, as greater weaponry makes struggle ever extra lethal and the force for making improvements to humans can result in eugenics or even genocide. the main accomplished try and inform the tale of Western expertise in lots of years, engagingly written and lavishly illustrated, A tradition of development files the ways that the force for development has formed our smooth global.

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While sailing ships, and thus use of the power of the wind, were ancient by medieval times, the translation of this idea into harnessing the wind for mechanical work was by no means an obvious step. It certainly does not seem to have occurred in other areas in which it was to prove of great advantage, such as waterpower-short portions of the Mediterranean world (like Greece or Spain). The first documented reference to a windmill comes from 1185, when records speak of a mill in eastern Yorkshire and other records of one in Sussex.

In the drier south, this would have been unhelpful, but in the much wetter north, it helped to avoid waterlogging of the fields, while retaining water in shallow ditches between strips. ’’ This refers to a loosely defined pattern, with myriad variations all over Europe, in which the ownership of land was generally in the hands of a relatively small number of landlords and the working of the land was distributed among peasants who had varying degrees of freedom, rents, obligations, and opportunities.

The social standing or legal rights of a tenant were sometimes linked to e¤orts made to improve the productivity of the land or of the labor applied to it. At the same time, medieval iconography changed and pictures began appearing that reflected the importance and dignity of manual labor. The ‘‘labors of the months’’ came to be standard decorations in calendars (which were, of course, generally church documents), realistically showing individuals engaged in a single identifiable kind of work, generally on the farm.

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