Tuesday, September 12, 2006

What is "technology"?

Each week I'll try to excerpt some good things from student critical response journals and open them up for wider discussion. This morning I was reading the blog from "advee" entitled 676=676 and thought we might like to mull over a point this student raises:

In a conversation, we say 'technology' and think we know what we're talking about. For instance, I often tell people that I'm interested in technology and its effects on writing, or that I'm interested in teaching with technology. But this often goes unprobed. Does this mean that I am interested in computers? Are computers just those processor/keyboard/screen combinations produced by Dell and Gateway and Apple? Or what about ipods and projectors and, better yet, pencils? In short, I really have no idea what I'm talking about when I say 'technology.' But no one calls me on it.

What do the rest of you think technology means -- or should mean? Or perhaps a better question is, if we think there have been significant (if not "revolutionary") changes in political, economic, and social life in the last few decades in part due to new technology, how have those changes affected our very definition of technology itself? (That's like a PhD prelim question right there for ya.)


At 11:15 PM, Blogger Awa said...

I guess my answer to this question is quite naïve, and I definitely will not answer it in this way in a prelim.
To me, technology is a kind of tool, one important functionality of which is to help people change their lives. In my home country, China, a large, developing country, because of the application of "new technology" (I don't know how we define "new", but I suppose it does not just include ICT) in the past 20 years, most people’s material life have been greatly improved. People living in the United States might not be able to feel anything to this simple narration, but it IS a significant change in my country. Well, if we do limit new tech to ICT only, I shall say, from few families had telephone to almost every family has a telephone so that everyone can easily get in touch with their family is a significant change; more and more people are able to get involved in online forums or virtual communities to talk about our society and politics is another big change that I can see. Of course I do not believe that technology is the only force that drives changes, but as I said, it is a powerful to for helping people to make changes.


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