Technology is the knowledge, tools and techniques used to produce products or solve problems. The term can refer to material objects of use to human society, such as machines or hardware, but also encompasses broader themes, including systems and methods of organisation.
Technology has changed the world we live in, affecting and impacting everything from our economy and social lives to our environment and health. It is essential to understand how it works and how people shape and use it so that we can make informed decisions about its future.
The most common definition of technology is that of information technology (IT). This refers to all the elements that make up a computer or network, including hardware, software, networks and storage.
This domain includes the systems and technologies that perform a business’s core functions, such as email, finance and accounting, HR management, payroll and customer service, among others. IT systems also include the user devices, peripherals and software that allow users to work with these systems.
It’s important to note that this definition is not without its limitations, though it does offer a richer perspective than the often narrow, sector-specific “IT”. This article explores some of the key issues with this definition and explains why we should consider a more broad approach when talking about technology.
It is also worth examining what the philosopher Joseph Dunne describes as “making technology”. Making technology involves choosing the best means towards an end, rather than simply calculating the efficiency of a range of options to solve a problem that has been clearly defined. This approach can be considered liberatory, in that it challenges the determinism that has dominated technological thinking since the 1950s and argues that technology must inherently be purposive.