Aramis, or the Love of Technology

Paperback | April 1, 1996

byBruno LatourTranslated byCatherine Porter

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Bruno Latour has written a unique and wonderful tale of a technological dream gone wrong. As the young engineer and professor follow Aramis' trail--conducting interviews, analyzing documents, assessing the evidence--perspectives keep shifting: the truth is revealed as multilayered, unascertainable, comprising an array of possibilities worthy of Rashomon. The reader is eventually led to see the project from the point of view of Aramis, and along the way gains insight into the relationship between human beings and their technological creations. This charming and profound book, part novel and part sociological study, is Latour at his thought-provoking best.

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From Our Editors

A guided-transportation system intended for Paris, Aramis represented a major advance in personal rapid transit: it combined the efficiency of a subway with the flexibility of an automobile. But in the end, its electronic couplings proved too complex and expensive, the political will failed, and the project died in 1987. The story of A...

From the Publisher

Bruno Latour has written a unique and wonderful tale of a technological dream gone wrong. As the young engineer and professor follow Aramis' trail--conducting interviews, analyzing documents, assessing the evidence--perspectives keep shifting: the truth is revealed as multilayered, unascertainable, comprising an array of possibilities ...

Bruno Latour is Professor at the Center for the Study of Innovation at the School of Mines, Paris.

other books by Bruno Latour

We Have Never Been Modern
We Have Never Been Modern

Paperback|Oct 15 1993

$37.13 online$39.00list price
see all books by Bruno Latour
Format:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 9.25 × 5.98 × 0.04 inPublished:April 1, 1996Publisher:Harvard

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0674043235

ISBN - 13:9780674043237

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Preface

Prologue: Who Killed Aramis?

1. An Exciting Innovation

2. Is Aramis Feasible?

3. Shilly-Shallying in the Seventies

4. Interphase: Three Years of Grace

5. The 1984 Decision: Aramis Exists for Real

6. Aramis at the CET Stage: Will It Keep Its Promises?

7. Aramis Is Ready to Go (Away)

Epilogue: Aramis Unloved

Glossary

From Our Editors

A guided-transportation system intended for Paris, Aramis represented a major advance in personal rapid transit: it combined the efficiency of a subway with the flexibility of an automobile. But in the end, its electronic couplings proved too complex and expensive, the political will failed, and the project died in 1987. The story of Aramis is told by several different parties, none of which take precedence over any other: a young engineer and his professor, who act as detective to ferret out the reasons for the project's failure; company executives and elected officials; a sociologist; and finally Aramis itself, who delivers a passionate plea: technological innovation has needs and desires, especially a desire to be born, but cannot live without the sustained commitment of those who have created it.

Editorial Reviews

Immediately after the project ended, Bruno Latour was asked by the RATP to investigate what went wrong. On the basis of a detailed empirical study, he has written three books in one: a detective novel, in which a sociology professor and a young engineer play the parts of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson; a scholarly treatise introducing the modern sociology of technology; and a reproduction of original archival documents. As the book develops, we hear the voice of technology itself, with Frankenstein's "humachine" and Aramis himself as spokespersonsLatour's book does offer important insights into the sociotechnical domain and engineering practices that transcend the Aramis case. It also provides, mainly in the form of methodological discussions, the groundwork for a theory of technology and society. This important asset, of what I think is Latour's best book so far.