On Line and on Paper: Visual Representations, Visual Culture, and Computer Graphics in Design Engineering

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MIT Press, 1991 - Technology & Engineering - 750 pages
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The role of representation in the production of technoscientific knowledge has become a subject of great interest in recent years. In this book, sociologist and art critic Kathryn Henderson offers a new perspective on this topic by exploring the impact of computer graphic systems on the visual culture of engineering design. Henderson shows how designers use drawings both to organize work and knowledge and to recruit and organize resources, political support, and power.Henderson's analysis of the collective nature of knowledge in technical design work is based on her participant observation of practices in two industrial settings. In one she follows the evolution of a turbine engine package from design to production, and in the other she examines the development of an innovative surgical tool. In both cases she describes the messy realities of design practice, including the mixed use of the worlds of paper and computer graphics. One of the goals of the book is to lay a practice-informed groundwork for the creation of more usable computer tools. Henderson also explores the relationship between the historical development of engineering as a profession and the standardization of engineering knowledge, and then addresses the question: Just what is high technology, and how does its affect the extent to which people will allow their working habits to be disrupted and restructured?Finally, to help explain why visual representations are so powerful, Henderson develops the concept of "metaindexicality"--the ability of a visual representation, used interactively, to combine many diverse levels of knowledge and thus to serve as a meeting ground (and sometimes battleground) for many types of workers.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
Coding and Claiming Codification and the Rise of Engineering as a Profession
15
The Visual Culture of Engineers Drawing Seeing and Standardizing Perception
25
The Yellow Brick Road to Production Development of a Turbine Engine Package
59
The Political Career of a Prototype Development of a Precision Medical Instrument
107
Computer Graphics in Design Engineering How and Why Changes in Visual Culture Cause Restructuring
135
MixedUse Practices Combining the Electronic World and the Paper World
167
The Aura of High Tech in a World of Messy Practice Standardization Mystification and Glamour
185
The Power of Visual Representation Mixed Practices Multivisual Competencies and Meta Indexicals
199
Notes
209
References
217
Index
229
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Page ii - Techniques and Medical Practices Wiebe E. Bijker, Of Bicycles, Bakelites, and Bulbs: Toward a Theory of Sociotechnical Change Wiebe E. Bijker and John Law, editors, Shaping Technology/ Building Society: Studies in Sociotechnical Change Stuart S.

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