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Lecture One: Intro to Technology and Civilization

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Natural Science
NATS 1775
Vera Pavri

Lecture One: Intro to Technology and Civilization September 13, 2011 Understandings of Technology Technology as Physical Objects: Tools, machines, instruments, weapons, appliances. Technology as Knowledge: the know how behind a technical innovation Technology as Activity: skills, methods, procedures Technology as Process: needs theory Technology as a Socio-Technical System: interaction between humans and objects. - this refers to how technology shapes society, and how society is affected by the technologies it uses Defining Technology While term technology can be found as early as the 17th century, used to describe treatise or study of industrial (practical arts). This term only became popular after WWII but the use of technology or material items an be traced to almost 2 million years ago Prior to this term being used, technical arts, engineering, practical arts and applied science were the terms used to describe technology The word “tech” refers to the act of creation 1831: Jacob Bigelow wrote a book entitled “Elements of Technology on the Application of Science to the Useful Arts” Most technologies are not created by just one individual, ideas about technology are often taken fro older sources. Critically Assessing Technology Social and cultural factors play a key role in the success or failure of new technologies, why are some technologies successful in one area and not in other It is also important to distinguish between invention and innovation (making a technology commercially successful) It is very rare that technology today is revolutionary (or life altering). When considering this, you must look at the impact at the time that the technology was created. For example, the Internet is considered to be “revolutionary”. When considering the impact on society, the telegraph of the 1800’s was far more revolutionary. That is why newer technologies are considered to be “evolutionary” meaning that they expand on older technologies and improve them. Ex.telegraph led the way for the radio, the telephone and eventually the TV. Success and Failure of Technology People mistakenly associate the success of a technology with how much of an advancement it is compared to previous societies. There is also the idea that societies that use technology are more civilized, advanced and educated that ones that do not. Success and failure of a technology has nothing to do with the actual product, rather it has to do with cultural, religious, economic, political factors and the needs of the community. Some societies do not accept certain technologies because it does not go with their culture/society or their needs. Example: In North Africa, the wheel was used for some time before it was decided to no longer use it. This choice had nothing to do with being unfamiliar or uneducated with it. The wheel would break down often in the desert and was not reliable enough. In 1600’s Japan, guns were introduced and then not used. Again, it had nothing to do with rejecting the technology because they were less educated about it ect. Japan had a warrior military culture, and the idea of using guns did not fit in with this type of culture. Three Theories of Explaining Technological Developme
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