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Is technology really too fast for society?

- We often hear that technology is advancing so fast that society cannot keep up. But in reality, social change is intimately linked to technology changes, and that expectations of what technology can bring changes in intensity.

This quote comes from the historian of ideas, Martin Hultman, who in a widely publicized research project together with his colleague Christer Nordlund, from Umea Studies in Science, Technology and Environment (USSTE), is studying these parcels in intensity regarding environmental technology.

With a broad experience in intellectual history, cultural studies and interdisciplinary environmental research, they examine the actors, ideas and venues where an expectation for fuel cells and hydrogen is created. Based on Hultman's dissertation, they analyse how the managers, engineers, politicians and journalists created great expectations for fuel cells and hydrogen around the world in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Hultman and Nordlund have now published their findings in the prestigious journal History and Technology.

The article explains how car shows, media and forecasting have great influence in the construction of both the future as the present. The authors introduce the concept of an ecomodern utopia to interpret the expectations of today's technology that will provide solutions to environmental problems, while social structures do not need to be changed.

The publication is a result of Umea University's commitment to environmental humanities. Environmental humanities will also be a topic at the International Conference on History of Science and Technology Days, held at Umea University during 20 to 22 March, 2013.

Article: Energizing technology: expectations of fuel cells and the hydrogen economy, 1990-2005, by Martin Hultman och Christer Nordlund

Contact details: Christer Nordlund, christer.nordlund@idehist.umu.se, +46 90 786 97 33 Martin Hultman, martin.hultman@idehist.umu.se, +46 90 786 54 59

idw :: 15.03.2013