The Technical Shaping of Technology: Real-World Constraints and Technical Logic in Edison’s Electrical Lighting System

TitleThe Technical Shaping of Technology: Real-World Constraints and Technical Logic in Edison’s Electrical Lighting System
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1995
AuthorsVincenti, W. G.
Secondary TitleSocial Studies of Science
Abstract

This paper discusses the role of the physical world and technical logic in constraining the shaping of technology. For illustration, Edison’s development of the electrical incandescent-lighting system is used as a didactic example of how such shaping can significantly limit engineers’ room to manoeuvre in arriving at their design decisions. With these results as springboard, observations and reflections are offered about real-world and other technical and non-technical constraints in the total shaping process. Engineers are pointed to as among the mediators of choice, in varying degree, across the entire technosocial spectrum. This little-analyzed activity, including the concomitant technical shaping, needs increased study (possibly collaborative) by both social scientists and engineers.

URLhttp://sss.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/25/3/553