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Archive for August, 2014

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August 1st, 2014 by: John K. Brown

A Different Counterfactual Perspective on the Eads Bridge

My article, “Not the Eads Bridge,” (Technology and Culture, July 2014) provides a case study of a consequential choice made in 1867-68, a choice influenced by politicians, financiers, railroad managers, and businessmen from St. Louis, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York City, and London.  St. Louis needed a rail bridge across the Mississippi River, two projects competed…

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Counterfactual History and the History of Technology Article

August 1st, 2014 by: Eric Schatzberg

Counterfactual History and the History of Technology

Jack Brown’s recent article in T&C opens up a new topic for historians of technology: the role of counterfactuals.  As Brown notes, there are many possible varieties of “counterfactual history,” and it’s not entirely clear what they share in common.  In this essay, I question the existence of “counterfactual history” while endorsing counterfactual reasoning in…

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The Value of Counterfactual Analysis: Investigating Social and Technological Structure Article

August 1st, 2014 by: Lee Vinsel

The Value of Counterfactual Analysis: Investigating Social and Technological Structure

In “Not the Eads Bridge: An Exploration of Counterfactual History of Technology,” Jack Brown offers up both an extended consideration of the counterfactual’s potential as a tool for historical investigation. “Counterfactual history” typically brings to mind open-ended “what if?” meditations that imagine the implications that would follow if some event did not occur. Such “contingent…

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