Make your own free website on Tripod.com

Home Syllabus Research Project Lectures Reviews

 

Chapter One

The Nature of Technology

Main Idea: Technology must be understood as a system which is based upon attitudes and orientations that can be described as rational.

  • Defining Technology Technology: "A system based on the application of knowledge, manifested in physical objects and organizational forms, for the attainment of specific goals." From this definition we can make several observations:
    • Technology is more than just theory and ideas and knowledge; rather it is the application of knowledge and science that results in the production of objects. 
    • The production of objects is meant to meet a specific goal or perceived need. The production of devices is largely to help us do something that we could not otherwise do. 
    • The goals that we seek to attain are not always practical or obvious
    • Technology must be understood as a system. In addition to devices, technology includes organizational structures and skills.
    • Finally, because technology is often a complex, interdependent system, it often emerges in an uneven way. 
  • Technological progress is different from progress in most other areas in that it is dynamic and cumulative.  It is thus represented by the S-shaped curve. 
    • Dynamic: technological progress never ends because there is always room for improvement.
    • Cumulative: one innovation provides the basis for other innovations.
  • Technology depends upon rationality and optimism:
    • Rationality: Objective analysis of the problem and the selection of the appropriate solution
    • Optimism: Belief that solutions are possible  and that constant changes are necessary in order to realize them.
  • Problems with technological progress:
    • Technological superiority does not translate into moral superiority
    • Reluctance to admit that there are forces beyond logical/empirical scrutiny.
    • The objectivity of rationality can lead to a sense of detachment from the world (and others). 
    • Technological progress precludes direct involvement by most people and thus can lead to a sense of powerlessness and distrust.

 

Study Questions
1. How would you define "technology?"

2. How is technological progress different from progress in other disciplines?

3. Give an example of a goal of technology that is not practical.

4. What is meant by the term "rationality?"

5. List and give examples of some of the problems associated with technological progress.


Self Test

Self Test

To take a practice test on this material click the Self Test Button. When you are finished use the Back button to return to this page.