remembering preliminary exams

To some extent this exam was very important, and I think the questions that I was asked are indicative of why I think this is.  It is 12 years after I took this exam, and well being able to answer these questions today are just as important as them.  I only have the questions that I wrote and the answers, each question was answered offline over a 3 hour writing period in a morning or afternoon, over a 4 day period.  There was an oral exam afterwards.

The topics were:

Internet Studies

Philosophy of Technology

Politics of Technology

Cultures of Technology

1. You are to write about security issues on networks – from electrical networks, to telegraph and telephone, and then to the Internet and wireless networking.  Discuss the engineering and design considerations, such as Vannevar Bush’s work on electrical networks (and as expressed in more recent work like Networks of Power).  Relate the earlier work to contemporary issues in Internet and network security.  How were the concerns expressed in the earliest days of networking similar and different than the ones expressed now?  Is there something fundamental about the concept of a network that demands considerations of security (i.e., is security an element of network infrastructure), or is the consideration of security external to networks, a social, cultural, economic, political (etc.) “overlay,” or do those intertwine, and with what consequences?

2. You have just agreed to write a review essay on Internet Studies for the journal of Science, Technology, and Human Values.  Produce a first draft of your essay, taking care to draw extensively from your reading list while clearly identifying, describing, and comparing the main approaches in this field.  Also be sure to identify questions that merit greater attention but have not yet been pursued sufficiently?
3. What are the differences of approach between philosophy of science as it is practiced in American-Anglo traditions and continental traditions of philosophy?

4. Who are some of the contemporary philosophers of science and technology and what are their primary differences and similarities?  Where do you place my work in relation to their wok in the philosophy of science and technology, especially given the problems for philosophy posed by an age of autonomous technologies?

5.Where are the relations of power in science and technology?  How do power and knowledge interplay in technoscience systems? What is the role of the state and other actors in science and technology policy?

6.Discuss various approaches to the relation of technology and politics.  In what sense are technologies political?  Do artifacts have politics, does politics use artifacts, or should we invoke a seamless techno-politics?

7. Identify three central problems or issues in the STS literature that a focus on Internet studies helps clarify, extend, or otherwise exemplify.  What gaps or omissions in the STS literature can Internet studies help resolve or fill in?  In other words, what does Internet studies contribute to the knowledge of STS more broadly?  Here the focus should be upon the STS literature per se.

8. Connection metaphors abound in STS, critical theory, and on the Internet – networks, rhizomes, webs, links, social worlds, communities, etc.  Compare and contrast various such metaphors, discussing their strengths and weaknesses for the type of theorizing you hope to do.