What Is Technology?

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Technology is a broad term that refers to tools and machines that may be used to solve real-world problems. It can include simple tools, such as a crowbar or wooden spoon, or complex machines, such as computers or particle accelerators. Technology does not need to be material; virtual technology, such as computer software or business methods, also falls under this category.

A key characteristic of technology is that it tends to be a step-by-step process, with each new development building on the previous one. This is one reason why apparently promising early technologies often stall midway through their development. It is only through the continued effort of researchers to overcome this ‘death valley’ that they eventually achieve their full potential.

As a result of this, technology is an important part of our daily lives, and it continues to be an important part of the world’s economy. In addition, many educational institutions use technology to teach their students. Teachers can leverage technology to allow their students to learn at a pace that works for them, as well as to facilitate group work or individual learning.

Some scholars have tried to define what technology is in order to help explain its impact on the world around us. They have identified two sharply diverging traditions of talking about technology, one that reduces it to instrumental reasoning and thus portrays it as narrow technical rationality devoid of values (an ‘instrumental approach’) and the other that views technology as an autonomous force that drives culture (a ‘determinist view’). Schatzberg suggests that we need a third way, which he calls a ‘new thinking’ about technology, that liberates it from both determinism and instrumentalism.