Technology: A Critical History of a Concept

Technology is the range of tools, devices, and systems that improve human life and make work easier and safer. Modern technology encompasses everything from smartphones and computers to advanced medical equipment, renewable energy technologies, and space exploration systems. To develop these new and improved technologies, complex manufacturing and construction techniques have developed. In addition, complex engineering fields have grown up to support the design and maintenance of these technologies.

Technological development has helped humans to change their environment and solve problems they faced. From the discovery of fire to the invention of the wheel, early humans used technology to create better food sources and travel more easily. Humans have also developed new types of weapons, from clubs to nuclear weapons, to fight wars and control their environments.

Often, the concept of technology is viewed as a positive thing. However, some people believe that the increasing use of technology is causing children to lose interest in real-life communication with their peers and can lead to depression and other mental illnesses. Others worry that the rapid advancements in technology can be detrimental to society and cause environmental damage.

The word “technology” can be confusing. It could mean anything that has been made by humans, such as a piano or a milk cow, but it often refers to new things — new technologies today and new technologies in the past. Technology has changed our lives, making it possible for us to have more fun and do things that we couldn’t do before. It has also made it easier for us to communicate with friends and family, even if they are far away.

Students can learn at their own pace, access a variety of resources on the internet, and complete assignments independently. Using the Internet for research allows students to find leveled books and online databases that are appropriate for their learning needs. Teachers can also use technology to assign online reading and research assignments for their students. In addition, teachers can easily locate and assign programs that will help students to process or expand on their lessons and understandings.

In Technology: A Critical History of a Concept, Eric Schatzberg examines how the term technology has been interpreted over time. He contrasts two sharply diverging traditions of talking about technology: one, an instrumental approach that sees it as narrow technical rationality without values; the other, a broader social interpretation that considers technology to be an essential part of human culture. This book is an essential read for anyone studying the history of technology. It will become a standard text for years to come. For those who teach this topic, Schatzberg’s earlier article, ‘Technik comes to America: changing meanings of the word technology before 1930’, will provide an invaluable overview of the subject. The book also offers insights into the current state of historiography in the field. Highly recommended. – Reviewed by Timothy F. O’Sullivan, University of Washington, Seattle