Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Retrospective Technology Assessments

  1. Jan 14, 2012 #1
    I've recently become aware of such things where they look at a new technology and try to trace back all the research (both basic and directed) that went into it and the relative amounts of each and such. Specifically I've read about one in the 1960's called TRACES (technology in retrospect and critical events in science), however, I cannot find a copy of it online or elsewhere. Anyway, I was wondering if anyone knew a link or a book that does these sorts of analysis I'd be particularly interested in ones about more recent stuff.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 14, 2012 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    One could search on "retrospective, technology", but I'm not sure what one will find.

    I participated in such a program during the mid-1980s in which which a select set of graduate students particpated in seminars, meetings or conferences with scientists and engineers who pioneered work during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Those scientists were retired, and some of that generation were deceased. The objective was to transfer knowledge from one generation to the next or subsequent generation.

    Unfortunately, much of that technology has not been preserved. In some cases, improvements have been made. In some cases, technology has been lost.

    I've seen cases were an incredible amount of historical information and legacy technology has been trashed. But that's business.
  4. Jan 14, 2012 #3
    I'm afraid I don't really understand what you mean. I'm referring to studies and such done by the NSF that look at something like the "iPod" and track back the grand total of development effort, directed research effort and basic research efforts that led to the creation of such a technology. The justification being to gauge the relative importance of corporate R&D vs. fundamental research in producing the technological wonders we find around us.
  5. Jan 15, 2012 #4


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Technology in retrospect and critical events in science, Volume 1, IITRI, 1968

    Vol 2 - http://books.google.com/books/about/Technology_in_retrospect_and_critical_ev.html?id=qpgoAQAAMAAJ

    Someone involved - TRACES study at IITRI (Technology in Retrospect and Critical Events in Science. Chicago: IIT Research Institute.)

    Apparently there are different ways of doing assessments, as well as different types of assessments:

    Forecasting the Telephone: A Retrospective Technology Assessment

    Retrospective Technology Assessment

    Water and Wastes: A Retrospective Assessment of Wastewater Technology in the United States, 1800-1932

    Technology Assessment

    Technology and the Air Force: A Retrospective Assessment

    Planning Report 03-1
    Methods for Assessing the Economic Impacts of Government R&D

    Assessing Research Impact
    Semiquantitative Methods

    Apparently, there is a TRACES III, from Diffusion of innovations By Everett M. Rogers:
    http://books.google.com/books?id=v1...etrospect, critical events in science&f=false

    and from Inside the black box: technology and economics By Nathan Rosenberg
    http://books.google.com/books?id=GS...etrospect, critical events in science&f=false

    Some functions incorporated into GAO.

    It might be difficult to find a retrospective technology assessment on a given technology or system.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook