a) Cavagh, T. (1999). Who invented your house? The Magazine of Technology 15 (2). Retrieved from: http://126.96.36.199/article-test-it/content/who-invented-your-house-1
This article focuses on finding out the origin of the balloon frame that is now used in building within the modern day American society. The article looks at the origin, as well as highlights the journey that the balloon frame has undergone over the centuries.
The article begins by acknowledging that home construction has significantly changed from how it was during the 19th century to what it is at present. The article describes the construction in the 19th century as one that used large timbers to build frame houses. Construction was then a complicated affair. It was a preserve of experts, and normally consumed a lot of time. The article also seeks to challenge the conventional historical tradition that the modern day construction technique referred to as the balloon frame was randomly invented.
According to the author, the current construction technique was coined “the balloon frame” in the early nineteenth century. The article adds that, unlike the traditional house construction style that uses interlocked heavy timbers, the balloon frame involved the use of boards that were less than 2 by 12 inches. The boards were then spaced strategically so as to form a basket-like structure that was both strong and durable. The balloon frame further relied on the other lighter products that were left from the mass production of lumber. Thus, it was able to cut on the time required to complete building house drastically. In addition, the work was completed using basic skills.
However, the author is not clear on the origin of this method. The article adds that the balloon-frame house is the closest style to the one used in modern day America. Notably, the major difference between them is that, whereas the balloon frame method had frames that reached the two-story height, the modern construction employs walls that reached greater heights. According to Cavanagh (1999), the balloon frame is very efficient in terms of the structure and the material used.
The article asserts that the first person to publish designs on the balloon frame was William Bell. His construction manual was written in 1858. The article adds that Bell, who was a carpenter from Illinois, had been constructing houses for more than fifteen years using the balloon frame technique. In his manual, Bell sought to present the balloon-frame as an organized system. He further provided suggestions on the material and procedures that were best suited for certain buildings. The article adds that the benefits that the new technology was presenting were very luring. However, according to the article, the benefits are yet to be fully reaped. The author attributes this to the existence of some kind of inertia that has prevented the full automation of the home construction process. The balloon-frame has been persistent due to its resistance to change. This separates it from other innovations in the home construction industry.
The author says that the full embrace of the balloon frame started during the nineteenth century in the Midwest. The adoption of the new innovation was as a result of an increased demand for houses. The author adds that nineteenth century witnessed a lot of growth. Most American towns were founded during this time. The author argues that the innovation of the balloon–frame must have occurred during this time. It was a trend for builders to move in groups, and the same applied in the construction. The author challenges the conventional history of the invention, which says the invention was dramatic. The author’s hypothesis is that a number of innovations by different builders must have given rise to this new method.
The article also gives the traditional and conventional story, which he points out to be a controversial topic. According to the story, the invention was made by Augustine Taylor in 1833 after he was asked to construct a number of houses, and he used the balloon frame method. The author observes that St Mary’s Catholic Church in Chicago is regarded as the first balloon frame by those who subscribe to this school of thought. Interestingly, the author points out that there exists no record for any of these builders laying claim to the invention that historians have attributed to them exists. Thus, this shows that the invention was not from one builder. The argument that the builders may have been ignorant can be challenged. In this regard, the inventions were made at a time when patents and property rights were highly contested.
The second point in the author’s argument is that a well known builder would not have risked using lumber at that time in history. Thus, the article can be acknowledged as resourceful, and one that historians will find interesting.
a) CBC Radio One (USA). (2012, March 29). Jo Guldi on Roads and the Internet. Retrieved from: http://www.cbc.ca/spark/2012/03/full-interview-jo-guldi-on-roads-and-the-internet/
Guldi seeks to find out the analogies that can be derived from the invention and adoption of roads during the 18th century to today’s invention and adoption of the internet. Guldi says that she has decided to major in British history. Her reason is that Britain is a classic example to use in the study of democracy and other concepts such as capitalism. Guldi starts by saying that, by the 18th century, the British government had started the building of roads. The building of these roads in Britain had a significant change in the lives of its citizens. The nature of social interactions changed. The approach that people had to the Royal Mail changed even at the local level such as towns. Another area that had changed was the way the government and the nation conducted their businesses.
Guldi says that the roads formed much of the debate that happened in the transport and infrastructure sector during the 18th century. Guldi argues that the invention of the road was started by some engineers who were inspired by Adam Smith to gain economically from what they had learned. The engineers lobbied for a very long time often doing a lot of paper work. Their effort paid up when they were finally approved to build modern road systems. These roads connected London to cities within their former colonies of Dublin and Wales. Guldi argues that these roads were the first modern roads built anywhere in the world. The moment the roads were constructed heralded a new dawn for London. Firstly, there were an increased number of people who were able to visit London. These people had no means to do so previously. The presence of crowds meant that London was becoming a breeding ground for political activism (CBC Radio One (USA), 2012).
Guldi then introduced the concept of road neutrality, which meant that the citizens would not pay for using the roads. This concept evolved from those old days when the citizens were forced to pay for these services. Modern day roads and highways are free to use, and there is no question about payments.
It is this analogy that Guldi says exists between the old road networks and today’s internet system. She points out to the current divergence of opinion between internet companies such as Google and Microsoft against the government on who should have control over broadband. Guldi’s argument is that, in the next generations, the internet infrastructure will be able to transform how society operates in a radical manner. This is similar to what roads did to the previous generations. Guldi asserts that the most heated debate and politics of technology revolve on who should pay for the technology, as well as who should provide these connections. However, she notes that technology will not necessarily solve the social problems of the world. To get to the level where technology will be important in the positive influencing of society, Guldi argues that the experts and the technocrats should be left to do the work (CBC Radio One (USA), 2012).
Another change that had come about with this invention was the different uses of the road. Traveling was now much easier. Travel theaters increased and trade thrived. Thirdly, there arose a division among groups on the use of roads. The middle class was slowly getting separated from the poor. Traditionally, travelers used to stop and seek guidance on their way from strangers who were mainly from the poor classes. However, roads brought about a new concept. Travelers who were mainly from the upper and middle classes would not stop to ask for direction; the idea of using guidebooks was increasingly becoming popular. These subtle changes had some effect on the political awareness in the country. Guldi says that most political and religious groups begun during this time. Political activists used the same road traveling to various towns and urging those in the lower class and who were oppressed to rise and stand against the perceived oppression. On the other hand, the religious activists were able to travel using the roads from town to town as they spread the gospel of equity and urging the Britons to change to Christianity (CBC Radio One (USA), 2012).
The big debate was about who would use the newly built roads, as well as who would meet the cost by paying for these services. Guldi argues that the same questions that were asked about the roads are being asked and will continue to be used in the modern as of the internet. The questions are about who will build the internet, as well as who will have permission to use it. According to Guldi, the debate is likely to go on for the next ten years.
Guldi seeks to challenge the assumption her comparison is metaphorical arguing that the issues are indeed similar. According to Guldi, the invention of the roads gave rise to the concept of expert-guided democracy. Thus, the civil engineers, planners, and auditors, among other technocrats have largely shaped and decided for the world on matters to do with infrastructure within the public works. In the 21st century, Guldi gives an example of stadia, airports, and the high speed rails as some of the public works that have come as a result of guided democracy from technocrats (CBC Radio One (USA), 2012).
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