Saturday, March 30, 2013


In the first century before Christ the most important architect of ancient Rome, Marcus Vitruvius Pollio (born c. 80–70 BC, died after c. 15 BC) is famous for his architecture treatisa and manual De Architectura. This book is available in Latin, English and Italian.

See also the Vitruvius post in

Friday, March 29, 2013

Some first steps in making the Blog

Scope of the Blog is to follow, day after day, the various steps of the research around the theme selected in the History of Technology. Some recommendations may be useful for a better work.

  1. choose the theme;
  2. select a novel, to be used as a "test rig" for identifying the connections between public history and technology;
  3. find the links for the novel, in the Web
  4. identify a concept map concerning the theme with respect to Technology and History (no more than five-six "concepts" are enough);
  5. try to compose an Alphabet for the chosen theme; it is an useful exercise to open your own boundaries in mapping the paths of the research;
  6. start to read the novel and mark the quotes where the "concepts" (see above point 3.) reveal their presence;
  7. read the textbook (Storia delle macchine) in order to identify the matter of the selected theme within the evolutive processes of the technology, without loosing the general chronology;
  8. record each step of your research in your log-book, i.e. in the Blog.
  1. the theme is "Technology and Vision";
  2. the book is The Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison;
  3. in Wikipedia... (etc.)
  4. the concept map for Vision may be:
    • Eye
    • Optics
    • Light
    • Colours
    • Knowledge
  5. The "Vision Alphabet" (in Italian) is:
    • A like Apparenza
    • B like Buio
    • C like Cannocchiale
    • D like Diorama
    • E like Effetto ottico
    • F like Fotone
    • ... and so on
  6. ...
Good read.

The Ancients' Genius

Now in the newspaper shop, and strongly suggested you can find an interesting special "Archeo" issue on the Ancient World technologies by Flavio Russo.

Weapons and hydraulic devices, building structures and engines reveal the innovative aspects of the western civilization before the Christian era.
These machines will be the argument of the next Lecture.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné...

The Diderot & D'Alembert Encyclopédie gives an impressive image of the French science and technology status at the mid of eightheenth century. The over 20 volumes of the planches offer a complete scenario of the applied sciences and arts in the Enlightenment times.

Encyclopédie ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, Pontoise

The organization of the knowledge is illustrated in the Discours préliminaire and represented in « Le système figuré des connaissances humaines ».

How to do a Blog

To do a Blog is a very simple action. Many Web Sites give a complete Guide; between them

The essential steps (for use of the Blogger) are:
  1. obtain a Gmail account
  2. enter the Blogger and verify if the chosen name is available (it is better to include a personal code, because many common names have been already selected)
  3. once accepted the Blog name (e.g. add a title, choose the template,... and follow the instructions
  4. that is all: so you can proceed with your first post.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Some useful Web Sites

The Knowledge Graph

The Knowledge Graph is a visual representation of the complex process that involves all the processes dealing with sensation, reading, action, meditation, imagination and that produce a consciousness status with respect to a definite subject. 

The Knowledge Graph is a knowledge base used by Google to enhance its search engine's search results with semantic-search information gathered from a wide variety of sources.

A Book as a Test Rig

The scope of the Homework (in building a Blog) is to explore some sources for preparing an historical essay. If the aim of the text book Storia delle macchine is to browse three centuries of history of technology, the choice of a novel has the purpose to identify a scenario in where to search clues around the chosen theme.

Therefore if, for example, you choose "Technology and Cooking" and if you have selected the book Confessioni di un italiano by Ippolito Nievo, you must - first of all - READ the book and MARK the passages where you identify some connections with the technology matter. 

e.g. In Chapter 1:  
"la cucina di Fratta ed il suo focolare sono i monumenti più solenni che abbiano mai gravato la superficie della terra." MONUMENTO / MONUMENT

"oscuro anzi nero di una fuliggine secolare, sulla quale splendevano come tanti occhioni diabolici i fondi delle cazzeruole, delle leccarde e delle guastade appese ai loro chiodi" UTENSILI / TOOLS

"Là un fumo denso e vorticoso, là un eterno gorgoglio di fagiuoli in mostruose pignatte, là sedente in giro sovra panche scricchiolanti e affumicate un sinedrio di figure gravi arcigne e sonnolente." FUMO / SMOKE

So, these quotes identify some concepts that concern and define the matter, and its context (in this case the kitchen). They will be used to organize a sort of "concept map". After the complete reading of the book, starting from these "concepts", more connections and links can be extended.

Technology & ...

Index of the HyperBlog

Transports (Alessio Bergamo)
Astronautics (Enrico Tognarini)
Military Strategy (Luca Distasi)
Curiosity (Enrico Armando)
Speed (Dario Di Maio)
Cars (Alessandro Russo)
Construction (Andrea Aloisio)
Kitchen (Francesca Lauta)
War (Francesco Martini)
Chemistry (Daniele Tomatis)
Arts (Elisa Zanchi)
Communication (Alessia Rosace)
Mechanisms (Alessandro Firmani)
Navigation (Christian Palmiero)
Artificial Intelligence (Marino Laterza)
Automata (Jasmine Rimani)
Genetics (Alberto Marchisio)
Aeronautics (Marco Montagna)
Physics (Francesca Vottero)
Ships (Matteo Cogno)
Garbage (Diego Chiabrando)
Artificial Intelligence (Giancarlo Noto)
Time (Mirko Guaschino)
Energy (Marco Parizia)
War (Nicolò Roberto Benigno)
Sport (Annarita Ranco)
Society (Riccardo Mimmo)
Communication (Nicolò Abrate)
Medicine (Marco Mansueto)
Automobiles (Marta Parigi)
Secret Services (Martina Mengoni)
Organization /Silvia Rubino)
Tools (Giuseppe Pedone)
Management (Anna Maria Ferro)
Plastics (Roberta Bellanca)
Survival (Stella Duretti)
Survival (Alessandro Chiavassa)
Medicine (Caterina Delponte)
Research(Ornella Sambarino)
Psychoanalysis (Sonia Gambetta)
Medicine (Martina d'Onofrio)
Freedom (Alex Saja)
Digital Nanotechnology (Gabriele Favi)
Weapons (Riccardo Cappuzzo)
Imagination (Antonella Accardo)
Progress (Nicolangelo Piscitelli)
Motion (Farzad Nikfam)
Wood (Laura Raparelli)
Industrial Processes (Gianluca Mottola)
Robotics (Emanuele Beffa)
Metallurgy (Andrea Famà)
Agriculture (Davide Rossini)
Cold Weapons (Luigi Ritorno)
Military Innovations (Valentina Isaia)
Industry (Orlando Nicolì)
Utopia (Alessandro Alberico)
Aviation (Salvatore Procopio)
Submarine World (Davide Revello)
Building Art (Ilaria Facciolla)
Human Vices(Andrea Della Monica)
Flight (Francesco Neirotti)
Truth (Matteo Bilardo)
Identity (Alessandro Ratclif)
Exploration (Yamine Hamza)
Town (Andrea Manassero)
Technology (Giada Ferraro)
Astronomy (Davide Grattarola)
City (Francesco Dianzani)
Communication (Pasquale Chiaravalle)
Racing Cars (Simone Peluso)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Suggestions for pleasant readings

Here are some more Authors suggested for the choice of the book necessary for some investigations around the history of technology:

Emile Zola (French society in nineteenth century)
Tracy Kidder (contemporary American society and technology)
Richard Powers (history, music, computer science, genetics...)
Bruce Sterling (cyberpunk science fiction)
Jan MacEwan (contemporary British society)
Carlo Emilio Gadda (20th century science and technology)
Chris Ware (comics, contemporary society)
Thomas Pynchon (science, technology, history)
Thomas Mann (German 2oth century society and industry)
David Foster Wallace (sport, contemporary society)
Luigi Barzini sr. (automobile, ... )
Italo Svevo (early 20th century Italian society, psychoanalysis)
Giovanni Verga (South Italy society)
Italo Calvino (science, astronomy,...)
Orhan Pamuk (contemporary Turkish society and Ottoman culture)
Luciano Bianciardi (Italian society, mid 20th century)

Further notes on the literature of these Authors can be found in the Web.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

How to proceed...

The scope of the Blog is to monitor your knowledge process in the History of Technology, but there are no mandatory rules for the number of posts. Continuity and curiosity are the most important rules for posting your considerations and your comments with respect to the matter presented during the lectures and depending on your readings.
In the preparation of the final exam two books are necessary to be read: the former is the official text (Storia delle macchine) that gives you an overall knowledge, the latter is a more pleasant reading (I sugggest a novel) that can be considered as an investigation field, an easier way for experimenting the job of the historian, who must build up a history starting from his searches. For example: by reading The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann many considerations on the medical technologies, first of all the X-Ray techniques, can be done. And so on.

A blog can be created by entering




Ingegnere / Engineer:

- Constructeur d'engins, de machines [1559]. (Aymot)

- Nous avons trois sortes d'ingénieurs ; les uns pour la guerre ; ils doivent savoir tout ce qui concerne la construction, l'attaque & la défense des places. Les seconds pour la marine, qui sont versés dans ce qui a rapport à la guerre & au service de mer ; & les troisièmes pour les ponts & chaussées, qui sont perpétuellement occupés de la perfection des grandes routes, de la construction des ponts, de l'embellissement des rues, de la conduite & réparation des canaux, &c. Toutes ces sortes d'hommes sont élevés dans des écoles, d'où ils passent à leur service, commençant par les postes les plus bas, & s'élevant avec le tems & le mérite aux places les plus distinguées. Ingénieur c'est dans l'état militaire un officier chargé de la fortification, de l'attaque & de la défense des places, & des différens travaux nécessaires pour fortifier les camps & les postes qu'on veut défendre à la guerre. (Encyclopédie, 1751-1762)

- Ingegnoso trovator d'ingegni o di macchine e più spesso chi fa la professione di trovar ingegni e macchine; e nelle milizie chi professa la scienza di fortificare, attaccare e difendere le piazze, e quella della castramentazione degli eserciti, e che ha la scienza e l'arte di descrivere i luoghi particolari o de' paesi o de' regni. (Tramater 1834)

- A person who studies, plans and builds machines, ships, docks, roads, bridges, forts, etc., as a civil (mining, electrical, military, sanitary, etc.) engineer. (Oxford 1956)

ingegnere (Italian)
engigneor (Old French)
ingénieur (French)
engyneour (Medieval English).
engineer  (English)
ingeniero (Spanish)
engenheiro (Portuguise)
Ingenieur (German)
ingenieur (Dano-Norvegian)
ingeniör (Swedish)
ingenieur (Dutch)
insinǒǒri (Finnic)
inzenjer (Croatian Serb)
inginer (Rumanian)
inzenyr (Czeck)
inzynier (Polish)
инженер (Russian)
injinjur (Indonesian)

μηχανικός (Greek)

mérnök (Hungarian)

mouhandìs (Arabic)
mehandess (Jewish)
mühendis (Turkish)

Order / Disorder

On the Life of the Machines

An interview with Vittorio Marchis about the life and the death of the machines appeared today on the newspaper "La Stampa".

Today an interview at "Caterpillar" a program of Rai Radio 2 (6.50 PM)
Tomorrow morning at 6.20 AM a new interview at "Prima di tutto", Rai Radio1.

The Sources for the History of Technology

The culture of technology often is defined as a "tacit knowledge" because the artifacts seldom are followed by complete documentation, few are the technicians who complete their innovations with a complete documentation, and very rarely they tell stories of the devices they have designed and manufactured.
The need to protect the intellectual and industrial property of the innovative items and systems leads to maintain secret the exact nature of the processes. And also the patent issues play only a legal role.

So the historians of technology, who dig under the "explicit knowledge" to discover the "tacit" one,  build and arrange their "documents" (the essential matter to make history) in several hints and signs found within:
- artefacts
- tombstones
- letters and commercial writings
- sketches
- data sheets
- catalogues
- advertisements
- novels and other literature
- notebooks
- nameplates
- interviews and other oral memories
- movies
- ...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Historiography: the writing of history; especially : the writing of history based on the critical examination of sources, the selection of particulars from the authentic materials, and the synthesis of particulars into a narrative that will stand the test of critical methods.

A general knowledge around the most important terms regarding historiography can be found in Dizionario di Storiografia, available on the  Web.

José Ortega y Gasset

The Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset  in 1933 in his book  Méditacion de la técnica  identified three phases in the mankind history :

la técnica del azar (he can search)
la técnica del artesano (he can do it)
la técnica del técnico (he knows who can do it)

see also some posts in

Timetable of the Lectures 2013

  • Friday 14 (4 PM...) Questions and Answers (62)
  • Wednesday 12 (4 PM - 6 PM) General survey for the History of Technology (60)
  • Friday, June 7 (4 PM - 7 PM) Technology and Literature. Blog survey (58)
  • Wednesday, June 5 (4 PM - 7 PM) The Age of Extremes: The Short Twentieth Century (55)
  • Friday, May 31 (4 PM - 7 PM) The Olivetti adventure - Some technology advs (52)
  • Wednesday, May 29 (4 PM - 7 PM) The Alchemy Origins and the Chemical Industry (49)
  • Friday, May 24 (4 PM - 7 PM) An Historical Overview: facts and institutions (46)
  • Wednesday, May 22 (4 PM - 7 PM)  The Polytechnic Culture. Literature and Technology (43)
  • Friday, May 17 (4 PM - 7 PM) Italy between post-war reconstruction and economic miracle (40)
  • Wednesday, May 15  (5.30 PM - 7 PM) Italy between WWI and WWII (37)
  • Wednesday, May 15 (4 PM- 5.30 PM) "Terramatta; il Novecento italiano di Vincenzo Rabito analfabeta siciliano", a movie directed by Costanza Quatriglio, written and produced by Chiara Ottaviano. (35.5)
  • Friday, May 10 (4 PM - 7 PM) Fahrenheit 451 - The importance of books (34)
  • Wednesday, May 8  (5.30 PM - 7 PM) The industrial revolution: the steam power (31)
  • Wednesday, May 8 (4 PM- 5.30 PM) The industrial revolution: the textile industry (29.5)
  • Friday, May 3 (5.30 PM - 7 PM) The Enlightenment and the encyclopedic adventures (28)
  • Friday, May 3 (4 PM- 5.30 PM) The silk before and after the industrial revolution (26.5)
  • Friday, April 26 (4.00 PM - 7.00 PM) Innovation and patents (25)
  • Wednesday, April 24 (no lecture)
  • Friday, April 19 (5.30 PM - 7 PM): The gothic cathedrals (22)
  • Wednesday, April 17 (5.30 PM - 7 PM) The "new science", from Galilei to Newton. (20.5)
  • Wednesday, April 17 (4 PM- 5.30 PM) Mining and metallurgy in 16th century. (19)
  • Friday, April 12 (5.30 PM - 7 PM) From Jacques Besson to Andreas Boeckler (17.5)
  • Friday, April 12 (4 PM - 5.30 PM). The Teatri di macchine: a new technological literature. (16)
  • Wednesday, April 10 (5.30 PM- 7 PM): Leonardo da Vinci. (14.5)
  • Wednesday, April 10 (4 PM- 5.30 PM): Technology between Middle Age and Renaissance. The machine treatises. (13)
  • Friday, April 5 (5 PM - 7.30 PM) Presentation of the book Domenico Borini. Un'impresa internazionale. Castello del Valentino. With the presence of professors Vittorio Nascé and Giuseppe Mancini. (11.5)
  • Wednesday, March 27 (5.30 PM- 7 PM): The Machines in the Ancient World. (9)
  • Wednesday, March 27 (4 PM-5.30 PM): Literature and Technology. Historiography of Technology (7.5)
  • Friday, March 22 (5.30 PM - 8 PM): A General Chronology. Sources for the History of Technology. How to proceed in the homework The Books & the Blog. (6)
  • Wednesday, March 20 (5.30 PM- 7.30 PM): The Blog, A general survey of the History of Technology (3.5)
  • Wednesday, March 20 (4 PM-5.30 PM): Introduction, Some suggestions, The historian's metodology (1.5)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Some interesting novels

Students are invited to a second reading during the Class of History of Technology. In the following some titles are shown and suggested:

Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow
Thomas Pynchon, V
Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49
Thomas Mann, Der Zauberberg
Thomas Mann, Die Buddenbrook (italiano)
Thomas Mann, Bekenntnisse des Hochstaplers Felix Krull (inglese)
Robert Musil, Der Mann ohne Eigenshaften (inglese)
James Joyce, Ulysses
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
Charles Dickens, The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club
Herman Melville, Moby Dick, or the Whale
Marcel Proust, A la recherche du temps perdu (and also e-books@Adelaide)
Don DeLillo, White Noise
Don DeLillo, Underworld
David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest
David Foster Wallace, The Pale King
Daniel Defoe, The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe
Daniel Defoe, A tour through the whole island of Great Britain
Ken Follett, The Pillars of the Earth
Ken Follett, World Without End
Ken Follett, Fall of giants
Ken Follett, Winter of the World
Jules Verne, Voyages extraordinaires
Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
Lew Tolstoy, War and Peace
Karl Marx, Capital; a critique of political economy

(for all these books an Italian translation exists)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The lectures begin...

Cari Studenti / Dear Students,
Mercoledì 20 marzo hanno inizio le lezioni del Corso di Storia della tecnologia alle ore 16.00 in Aula 3.
On Wednesday March 20, begin the lectures of History of technology, 4.PM Room 3.

I libri di testo ufficiali sono / Text books are:

Vittorio Marchis, Storia delle macchine, Roma-Bari : Laterza, 2010 (3a ed.)

Vittorio Marchis e Filippo Nieddu, Materiali per una storia delle tecniche, Torino : Celid, 2004


Méditacion de la técnica, by José Ortega y Gasset.

A History of Technology & the Human Condition, by Tad Dunne, PhD

A Web History of Technology

Wikipedia History of Technology

A New Blog

This Blog is following and is a log book of the lectures of History of Technology  held by Vittorio Marchis at the Politecnico di Torino and in other places.