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"Leonardo to the Internet: Technology and Culture from the Renaissance to the Present"

Thomas Misa


Thomas J. Misa recently retired after serving for many years as Professor of the History of Technology at the University of Minnesota, where he directed the Charles Babbage Center, taught courses in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine and was a faculty member in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. His many books include the acclaimed Leonardo to the Internet: Technology and Culture from the Renaissance to the Present, just re-published in an updated 3rd edition by Johns Hopkins Press, as well as Fast Lane: Managing Science in the Internet World (with Jeffrey Yost), A Nation of Steel: The Making of Modern America, 1865-1925 and the edited collections, Gender Codes: Why Women are Leaving Computing and Modernity and Technology (with Philip Brey and Andrew Feenberg). The recipient of grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Department of Energy/Los Alamos National Laboratory, the National Science Foundation, the Society for the History of Technology and the American Historical Association, Misa has published scores of major articles on topics in the history of science, technology and industry, modern machines and computers, and gender bias in computing and data analysis.

In Leonardo to the Internet – “closely reasoned, reflective, and written with insight, grace and wit” (Technology and Culture review) – Thomas Misa provides a sweeping and masterful history of the interactive relationship between technology and society over the past 500 years, revealing how technological innovations have shaped—and have been shaped by—the cultures in which they arose. Spanning the preindustrial past, the age of scientific, political, and industrial revolutions, as well as the more recent eras of imperialism, modernism, and global security, this compelling work evaluates what Misa calls "the question of technology."

In the new 3rd edition (2022), Misa brings his classic text up to date by drawing on current scholarship while retaining sharply drawn portraits of individual people, artifacts, and systems. Each chapter has been honed to relate to contemporary concerns. Globalization, Misa argues, looks differently considering today's virulent nationalism, cultural chauvinism, and trade wars. A new chapter focuses on the digital age from 1990 to 2016. The book also examines how today's unsustainable energy systems, insecure information networks and vulnerable global shipping have helped foster geopolitical risks and instability and looks at the coronavirus pandemic from the perspective of Wuhan, China's high-tech district.

A masterful analysis of how technology and culture have influenced each other over five centuries, Leonardo to the Internet frames a history that illuminates modern-day problems and prospects faced by our technology-dependent world.

Sponsored by the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, the Office of Graduate Education and Research and the EKU Honors Program


Published on September 15, 2022

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