Artifice and Agency

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Your Final Exam

Here is your final exam. You must answer two questions from the following six. Do not choose two questions that focus on the same authors or works. Each of your answers should be approximately 3-4 pages long. You may spend as much time as you wish on the exam and you should use your texts to help substantiate your points. Stick to the questions and be sure to finish on time. You are to submit a physical copy of your exam to me on the last scheduled meeting of the course.

1. Discuss Hannah Arendt’s attitude toward the earth and toward artifacts in her discussion of “work” in The Human Condition and then either compare or contrast that attitude in what seems to you an illuminating way with the attitudes toward the earth and artifacts you find either in Janine Benyus’ Biomimicry or William McDonough and Michael Braungart’s Cradle to Cradle (choose one).

2. Discuss what you take to be either the essential similarity or difference in the understanding of power offered by Michel Foucault in History of Sexuality and Hannah Arendt in The Human Condition, and then apply the resulting insight about power to its treatment in some aspect of the work we read by Sterling, Lessig, or Bauwens (choose one).

3. Discuss what you consider to be some important strengths and limitations of using Arendt’s characterization of the political as a “space of appearances” as a way of understanding the emerging political significance of “cyberspace” as it was discussed in Harris, Lessig, Bauwens, or Benkler (choose one).

4. Discuss the notion of the commons as you consider it to be deployed in one of our texts on digital design as well as in one of our texts on sustainable design. What do you take to be a key similarity or difference between these notions of the commons and the uses to which the authors put the notion in their respective arguments?

5. Describe some contribution to the design politics of sustainability that you consider to be unique to Janine Benyus’ Biomimicry and another that you consider to be unique to William McDonough and Michael Braungart’s Cradle to Cradle, and then discuss how the argument of each text would be enriched or complicated through the addition to it of the contribution available only in the other book.

6. Provide a reading of any one of Bruce Sterling’s arguments or proposals in Shaping Things in light of the readings in Barthes' Mythologies of Verne, Einstein, or the Jet-Man on the ideology of nature, progress, science, or technology.


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