marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

technology and society

Technology and society -- interact.

I have heard claims that technological change is what drives social changes and not vice versa, which is silly.  True, technological change can cause social change.  The Iron Age meant that the individual heroes of the Bronze Age, dressed in that very expensive and rare bronze armor, gave way to the much larger armies dressed in much cheaper iron army -- like most of the citizens of the Greek city.

But then, Germany didn't go to war with Great Britain because they had discovered a synthetic substitute for rubber, which meant they didn't have to fear the blockade would cut off their rubber supply.  They discovered the synthetic substitute because they had gone to war, and the blockade cut off their supply.

Or take the waterwheel.  It produced a lot of changes in medieval Europe.  But it didn't do it on its own.  There were waterwheels in China and ancient Rome, and they didn't produce those changes, because the people there didn't go "o boy" and try to figure out as many ways to use them as they could.  Perhaps labor had gotten far more expensive (true enough -- you can only work a serf a day or so a week, plus some of the rest of their labor, and the mere fact they turned slaves into serfs showed that labor was more expensive -- you couldn't replace them so easily); or perhaps labor had gotten more respectable so you were willing to work at it. . . .

No wonder so many fictional worlds are static.  It's complicated.
Tags: fictional history, world-building: economics, world-building: social structure, world-building: technology

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