Definitions of Technology
|The word technology
comes from two Greek words, transliterated techne
and logos. Techne means art, skill, craft,
or the way, manner, or means by which a thing is gained. Logos
means word, the utterance by which inward thought is
expressed, a saying, or an expression. So, literally,
technology means words or discourse about the way things
has come to mean something different. In one respect, the
term has come to mean something narrower -- the above
definition would admit art or politics as means of gain,
yet though those activities are permeated by technology
now, most of us would not consider them to be examples or
subsets of technology. In another respect, this
definition is too narrow, for when most of us speak of
technology today, we mean more than just discourse about
means of gain.
|In this essay I will refer
to technology in five different senses. Following are
some working definitions.
|First, technology is the
rational process of creating means to order and
transform matter, energy, and information to realize certain
valued ends. The significance of this definition will
become clearer below.
|Second, technology is the
set of means (tools, devices, systems, methods,
procedures) created by the technological process.
Technological objects range from toothbrushes to
|Third, technology is the
knowledge that makes the technological process possible.
It consists of the facts and procedures necessary to
order and manipulate matter, energy, and information, as
well as how to discover new means for such
|Fourth, a technology
is a subset of related technological objects and
knowledge. Computer technology and medical technology are
examples of technologies.
|the technological system
|Finally, technology is the
system consisting of the technological process,
technological objects, technological knowledge,
developers of technological objects, users of
technological objects, and the worldview (i.e., the
beliefs about things and the value of things that shape
how one views the world) that has emerged from and drives
the technological process. This is what Ellul referred to
as the technological system. In the remainder of this
article, I will use all five senses, but when I use the
term technology by itself, I mean the fifth and
most comprehensive sense.