I’ve been pondering what technology means (or doesn’t mean) the past few days and have found it an interesting and frustrating task.
Some of the dictionary definitions are pretty predictable.
The World English Dictionary (vis-a-vis dictionary.com) offers:
World English Dictionary
technology (tɛkˈnɒlədʒɪ) [Click for IPA pronunciation guide]
— n , pl -gies
1. the application of practical sciences to industry or commerce
2. the methods, theory, and practices governing such application: a highly developed technology
3. the total knowledge and skills available to any human society for industry, art, science, etc
And Thesaurus.com offers the following synonyms:
Synonyms: applied science, automation, computers, electronic components, hi tech, high tech, industrial science, machinery, mechanics, mechanization, robotics, scientific know-how, scientific knowledge, technical knowledge, telecommunications
I agree, yet find these limiting. The emphasis, is on our modern concept of technology in the sciences, but I see it as much more in line with how humans have developed and evolved over time. Sitting in front of a computer it is hard not to slant towards modern electronic definitions of the word, but if I think about prehistoric societies learning how to use tools such as spears, bow/arrows, flints, it is the latter of the three definitions that includes knowledge and skills that fits best. It’s interesting that none of the synonyms really touch on these broader notions and I suspect that is part of the narrower view of technology that many end up having.
technology. (n.d.). Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition. Retrieved September 19, 2010, from Thesaurus.com website: http://thesaurus.com/browse/technology
technology. (n.d.). Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. Retrieved September 19, 2010, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/technology