Definition of Technology

from Greek tekhnologia, systematic treatment of an art or craft : tekhne, skill . . . .

1a. The application of science, especially to industrial or commercial objectives. b. The scientific method and material used to achieve a commercial or industrial objective. 2. Electronic or digital products and systems considered as a group. . . . 3. Anthropology The body of knowledge available to a society that is of use in fashioning implements, practicing manual arts and skills, and extracting or collecting materials.

-- American Heritage Dictionary, 4th ed., 2000.

Technologies may seem like tools or implements, but they are more than mere extensions of human capacity -- as we now know, now that we live in an "Information Society." As Walter Ong puts it, “Technologies are not mere exterior aids but also interior transformations of consciousness” (“Writing is a Technology that Restructures Thought,” 301). Another idea made salient in a society in which new media proliferate: the new technologies such as computer programs changes the structure of thought (see especially Edward Tufte, The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint). That shows us that more of the tools we have inherited are in fact technologies too: metaphors, sentences. To put this in more concrete terms:

Imagine going into the woods, coming out into a beautiful field, and encountering a tree:

What can you do with that tree in thought? If there is a plaque underneath, you could read about what kind of tree it is and who planted it. If you have a palm pilot, you could look up trees in your files. You could also sit under the tree and say to yourself, "a tree is life." Plaques, Palm Pilots, and Metaphors are all technologies for expanding your understanding as you encounter a tree.


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