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編輯:王博律(Rosa Wang)(簡介並寄信)

Included in this section are e-mails from the instructor to the students in STS.092 Current Events from an STS Perspective, which help to provide insight into class discussions. Also included is one e-mail from a guest instructor to the instructor, summarizing activities from one class meeting.

2003年2月5日,星期三(Rosalind Williams)
Wednesday, February 5, 2003 (Rosalind Williams)

正如你們所知,這個研討會的主題是「從STS觀點看當今事件」。我曾告訴你們,今年春季預期將有很多重大事件發生。但是, 我從未想像過第一件事竟是「哥倫比亞」號太空梭失事的災難性損失。因此,帶著沉重的心情,我將第一次課堂討論和家庭作業的要點概述如下:
As you know, the theme of the seminar is "Current Events from an STS Perspective." I told you to expect a lot of significant events this spring, but I never would have imagined that first one would be the catastrophic loss of the space shuttle Columbia. So it is with a heavy heart that I outline our first discussions and assignments for the class:

Read relevant stories in The New York Times today, and keep reading between now and Wednesday.

Be thinking about: the context of this disaster (its significance coming as it does at this time in history).

Be thinking about: the connections between this event and other events or sociotechnical systems (connections that might illuminate our understanding of what has happened).

In class this coming week I would like each of you to take five minutes (no more, less is OK) to express one idea about the context or connections of the loss of the Columbia. We all have many thoughts and feelings about this; you need to focus on one point that seems especially significant to you.

I will ask each member of the seminar to do some fact-finding during the first week of class on some context or connection of the loss of the Columbia. Here are some suggestions:

--NASA as a sociotechnical system: how is it managed? what are the main issues in its management?
--doing science research in space: what are the costs and the benefits?
--media coverage (TV, on-line, etc.): how did it shape our experience of the event? (note MIT's role in this coverage)
--the symbolic dimensions of the way the tragedy occurred (debris raining from the sky)
--the myth of Icarus/Daedalus: do ancient myths help us understand current events?
--太空人從Tom Wolfe「正確材質」所描述的「牛仔精神特質」,到今天市郊精神特質的演化 - 動機改變了嗎?訓練呢?這些究竟是什麼人?
--the evolution of astronauts from the "cowboy ethos" of Tom Wolfe's "The Right Stuff" to the suburban ethos of today - have motivations changed? training? who are these people?
-- Ron McNair是誰, 他為什麼重要?
--who was Ron McNair and why does he matter?
--analogies with the Challenger disaster: what has changed in the context, how is media coverage different this time, how is the meaning of these two events different (and how is it similar)?
--how do we find "the cause" of this accident? (those of you who read Galison's article last fall should reread it: it's still on the website for STS.069)
--太空梭計畫引發了哪些有趣的技術系統問題? 作為太空梭計畫設計中密不可分的一部分, 我們如何看待地緣政治和美國政策?
--what are the interesting technical systems questions raised by the space shuttle program? how do we see geopolitics and American policy built into the design of that program?

There are many more connections and contexts to think about but this will give you a start. There will be a brief oral and written report due in the second class based on your fact-finding. This will be the rhythm of the class: reviewing current events to choose the most significant ones, and then reflecting upon them from a "science, technology, and society" interdisciplinary perspective. I hope subsequent events are not so painful to contemplate.

2003年2月6日,星期四(Rosalind Williams致Michael Feld)
Thursday, February 6, 2003 (Rosalind Williams to Michael Feld)

今天早晨我留了一個口信,請您的秘書轉達。請問您本周星期二晚是否可能出席我的課,在您方便的時候與我聯繫。這是一個小型的閱讀研討會,名為「從STS觀點看當今事件」。在第一次課我們討論了哥倫比亞號災難性事件,我問學生誰知道Ronald McNair,沒有人聽說過他。這讓我感到一絲煩惱(當然,當「挑戰者」號失事時,他們還是嬰兒。)在本課程開始之際,我衷心希望我能在MIT找到一位與Ron有親身交往的人士,來到課堂並介紹他的一些情況。
I left a message with your secretary this morning asking you to contact me at your convenience about the possibility of your coming to my class this coming Tuesday evening. This is a small reading seminar on "Current Events from an STS Perspective." In the first class we talked about the Columbia disaster, and I asked if they knew who Ronald McNair was. No one had heard of him. This bothers me (though of course they were babes when the Challenger was lost). I was hoping I could find someone at MIT who knew Ron personally to come and say a few words about him at the start of the class.

2003年2月21日,星期五(Rosalind Williams)
Friday, February 21, 2003 (Rosalind Williams)

Feb. 25. You will have two assignments due:

1. two-page comment on your dinnertime conversation this past week: one point that especially intrigued you in your discussion

If you didn't attend the dinner, then just write two pages on some conversation you have had in the past week about current events (in class, out of class, with friends, with faculty, with staff, with the folks back home, whatever): what was said and why it seems important to you.

2. the usual weekly assignment: two-page comment on some news item you read in the newspaper this past week (bring along a clipping or hard copy of that item)

This time I will have each student read in class the second assignment (the general comment on the news) rather than speaking more or less off the cuff. This will set a de facto time limit on each student and it is also useful for improving your writing (it is amazing how you find things in your own writing, for better or for worse, when you read your work out loud).

It may not be possible to have each student read each week, because we want to reserve class time for other topics and for general discussion. But let's try--

2003年3月12日,星期三(Rosalind Williams)
Wednesday, March 12, 2003 (Rosalind Williams)

昨晚我忘了告訴你們:在下周的課(3月18日)我們的客座老師是Tom Hughes 。本週末他到本市參加革新與創造會議(由Lemelson-MIT專案贊助)。他將停留到星期一晚,出席為他舉行的慶祝宴會:Tom剛被選入國家工程研究院(NAE), 是第一位被提名選入NAE的技術史學家,所以我們慶祝這一令人高興的事情。(在下期「技術論壇」中將有此事的報導)。我邀請他多停留一晚,這樣我們可以榮幸地再次請他做客座老師,出現在課堂上。(Jina, 在去年秋季的「危機世界中的科學技術」課程中, Tom是少數幾位客人之一)。這不會改變你們的作業(五篇長約二頁的評述,以及你們計畫閱讀並寫評論的書名),也不會改變課堂節奏。我只想提醒你們,這樣你們在星期二就不會感到驚訝。
I forgot to tell you last night that at next week's class (March 18) Tom Hughes will be our guest. He is in town this weekend for a conference on the history of innovation and invention (sponsored by the Lemelson-MIT Program). He will be staying on for a dinner in his honor on Monday night: Tom has just been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, the first historian of technology to be named to the NAE, so we are celebrating this happy event. (There will be a story about it in the next issue of Tech Talk.) I asked him to stay over one more night so we could have him back as a guest in class. (Jina, Tom was one of quite a few visitors in the "Technology in a Dangerous World" class this past fall.) This doesn't change your assignments (five two-pagers, plus the title of a book you intend to read and report on) nor will it change the rhythm of the class. I just wanted to alert you so you wouldn't be surprised on Tuesday.

2003年3月19日,星期三(Rosalind Williams)
Wednesday, March 19, 2003 (Rosalind Willaims)

I have been thinking more about Matt's two-pager last night and its conclusion (to paraphrase) that "since we have stirred up the hornet's nest we have no choice now but to go to war." In other words Matt argues for historical inevitability based on an argument of technological determinism, i.e. if you have the military "megamachine" (people and weapons) in place, at some point you will have to use it.

今天《紐約時報》上Mary McGrory的專欄文章讓我一直思考Matt的觀點(我想專欄文章的題目是「第一個垂直觀察的人」)。她認為,一直以來,通過不斷地增加在某一地區的軍事駐紮數量,錢尼特別堅持地在創造「地面技術事實」(正如他們在以色列的另一環境中所說的那樣),如此一來戰爭就不可避免。她同時認為,當真正的行動是無情地、不斷地增加軍事力量時,我們所看到的一切外交努力只不過是一場毫不相關的穿插表演。換言之,我們關注於錯誤的新聞—外交新聞報導上,而真正重要的新聞故事一直以來都是軍事事件時,。因此,Matt的結論(「我們別無選擇」)基於一種有意識的人類決定:通過技術方式,「製造出」歷史必然性的判斷。
What kept me thinking about Matt's argument is Mary McGrory's op-ed in today's New York Times ("First Person Perpendicular," I think it's titled). She contends that all along Cheney in particular has been intent on creating technological "facts on the ground" (as they say in Israel in another context) by building up the military presence in the region just so war would become inevitable. She also contends that all the diplomatic maneuvering we have been watching has been an irrelevant side-show when the real action has been the inexorable build-up of military forces. In other words, we have been following the wrong story--the diplomatic story--when the one that really mattered all along is the military one. Therefore Matt's conclusion ("we have no choice") is based on a conscious human decision to *create* a sense of historical inevitability, through technological means.

Please think some more about technological determinism and historical inevitability as events unfold. Please think also about a rather different interpretation of how history works: this is the one advanced by Leo Tolstoy at the end of his massive novel War and Peace. The main historical event in that novel is Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812 as part of Napoleon's years of effort to conquer Europe. Napoleon is the classic "great man of history" but Tolstoy argues that he was swept along by deeper historical forces, that everyone was during the Napoleonic epoch, and that the appearance of human decision-making in these grand events is illusory and deceptive. If anyone among you has read War and Peace recently, so much the better. (I haven't read it for years but mean to take a look at it again soon.)

昨晚Tom Hughes和我想討論這個問題,但時間不夠。春假後當我和同學們再相聚時,我們可以試著討論這個問題以及許多其他問題。同時繼續記筆記—尋常事而已,只為了存儲一些想法,可能會啟發本課程將來的寫作,更不用說吸引你們的兒孫。
Tom Hughes and I wanted to discuss this last night but we ran out of time. Let's try to discuss it when we reconvene after spring vacation--as well as much else. Keep taking notes in the meantime--nothing fancy, just enough to store some thoughts that might inspire future writing for this class, not to mention being of interest to your grandchildren.

Have a great time over spring vacation, remembering that springtime and good friends and family ties are enduring values in life whatever happens in history.

2003年4月10日,星期四(Robert Crease致Rosalind Williams)
Thursday, April 10, 2003 (Robert Crease to Rosalind Williams)
(征得Robert Crease的允許,同意在此公開)
(Courtesy of Robert Crease. Used with permission.)

Dear Rosalind:

課程進行得非常順利:一篇論文關於鈾廢料,二篇關於戰爭,二篇關於SAS, 一篇關於牛奶,一篇關於TDP。似乎只有一人讀過我的文章,因此我們沒有討論這篇文章。但是有關他們論文的對話卻相當活躍。有些事情你可能想提出討論,但我忘了提及:
The class went very well: one paper on depleted uranium, two on the war,
two on SARS, one on milk, and one on TDP. Only one person seemed to have
read my paper, so we didn't discuss that, but the conversation on their
papers was lively. Some things I forgot to mention which you might want to
bring up:

1. SARS, of course, is a subject raising many STS issues. One set which
they didn't at first mention but which I did has to do with the
laboratories where contagious diseases are studied. It seems important,
even a moral duty, to study such diseases--but the neighbors are
understandably nervous and frequently try to say it is important, even a
moral duty, NOT to study such diseases in their back yards. This will be,
I'm convinced, one of the most important STS issues of the 21st century.
Somebody--Matt or Dave, I think--mentioned an effort to open a CDC
facility in Galveston which was blocked by the mayor, and I mentioned Plum
Island's perennial problems. But what I forgot to do was mention
Cambridge's own similar struggles, in 1976, with recombinant DNA research--
and the fact that the city council voted to ban such research. You may
have already mentioned this close-to-home episode in this class or in last
semester's, but I thought you might want to draw the connection.

2. Several of the papers mentioned risk issues. I'm not sure I stressed
as much as I should have the fact that risk is not simply a technical
issue, where the answer is out there someplace (hidden or not), but a
social issue that is frequently exploited for political reasons. "A risk
statement is a godsend to anyone with an agenda," write Gregory and Miller
in SCIENCE IN PUBLIC. You may have already made this point.

3. Gina's paper included an image of a cow tethered to a Jeep. We all
laughed good-naturedly at this at the time. I should have pointed out,
though, that--a week later--we would all still remember that cow and
Jeep. It was a fine image, and a great one to include.

I envy you your intelligent and lively class. Thanks again for the
opportunity to participate. And I hope you had a good trip!

2003年4月22日,星期二(Rosalind Williams)
Tuesday, April 22, 2003 (Rosalind Williams)

I am going to have to cancel this evening's make-up class because I have still not recovered from the flu. I thought I would be over it by now but it is taking a while to clear up (though fortunately it is a mild case and certainly not SARS!).

If any of you have written a two-pager already for this evening, that's just fine: please turn it into me electronically and it will count as one of the ten two-pagers you need for this class. We will get around to discussing it sometime. Our class next week will follow the usual format, but we also need to discuss end-of-term activities and where-do-we-go-from here.

請注意從今天《環球時代》上摘引Jay Garmer的話:「從今往後我們要做的是在伊拉克催生一個新體制」。「從今往後」和「催生」都帶林肯式的語調,但一個新體制?不是一個新政府或新社會?這是什麼意思?從STS觀點看,這條新聞暗示什麼?(美國對什麼感興趣,推動民主,還是建立制度,或是其他什麼?Garner的聲明暗示技術與社會二者之間具有什麼聯繫?)
Please note the quote from Jay Garner in today's Times and Globe: "What we need to do from this day forward is to give birth to a new system in Iraq." "From this day forward" has Lincoln-ian cadences, as does the birth metaphor, but a new system? not a new government or new society? what does this mean and what does it suggest in terms of an STS perspective on the news (is the US into promoting democracy, or systems-building, or what? what is the connection between technology and society implied by Garner's pronouncement?).

我還要求你們注意Wolfgang Schivelbusch 在今天時代週刊上的專欄文章。Wolfgang是當今最好的技術文化史學家,在軍事技術相差懸殊的時代存在失敗文化,他對這種文化特別感興趣。他住在離歸零地(Groud Zero)只有二個街區(並非偶然地)。這事我們還要進行討論。
I'd also call your attention to the op-ed by Wolfgang Schivelbusch in today's Times. Wolfgang is one of the best cultural historians of technology around these days and is especially interested in the culture of defeat in an age of great disparities in military technologies. He lives a couple blocks from Ground Zero, not incidentally. We'll talk more about this too.

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