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and legal'ec<; orocesses; lel environment' o common,u,t^gt f, third to t me hodo g)t o.

l uchnique, Ellul uses oolemic -th tnY lorm ol. d.no,. such as Hroors Others, to denote the xn used sYstem( gqciotechnical truncateou cvcnmore some t1s ogY,"and i1 contP signtltcant gused of gtions Ellul's that oc term of translation the pysn6h.Others aPPea methodologY[o denote Bsk,asin, "we havetht In order to avoid thes might call these variot ,,techniquer" "know-t system' "sociotechnical USAGE 3: The in fo and sses, Procedures KNOr sibledenotation: KNOW-HOW, OR I ofthese wo sense usual we When includethe n disc ofthethreeusages the together common r ogy." However,there thathasno common na the hu: understanding nology" in the ways I discussion.will call t nicalsystems use Su, of . whatwe do with the hr factured it. For example, we system roads, gas r of andoperation, rules o combinedsystem (tht extendthe human ca andour possessions al factureviolins, pianor musicalinstruments. orchestras bands and wecan make music. scopes, CAT-scanner lnstruments utiliz and

Whatis Technology

Stephen Kline J.
In the late2Oth century,thereis only onething most people agree about concerning technology - it is important. It is discussed almost as much as the it weather,and sometimes seems, with aslittle effect. But what is "technology?" Ifwe look with evena little care,we find this sameword is being usedto representthings, actions,processes, methodsand systems. as "Technology" is alsousedsymbolically an epithet,for important working procedures, and to represent progress.This much conflict within the usageof one of our central terms won't do; it can lead only to chaos.Even more important, the current vague use of the word "technology" hides from view two central concepts,and a central pattern of human behaviorthat we must haveto make sense our views of many critical questionsin the of current world includinghow we understand innovation, how we can communicateacross Snow's culture gap, and how we understandthe way in which we humansmakeour living on the planet. We cannotget on with our work in STS studies even reasonablywell until we "unpack" the word "technology" - take apart the various usagesand agreeon namesfor eachof the important concepts so that we can understand one another at least adequately. Seneca As told us two millennia ago, "When the words are corrupt, the mind is also." Perhapsthe commonestusageof "technology" is to denote manufactured articles- things made by humans that do not occur naturally on earth,for example: refrigerators, eyeglasses,atom bombs, paints, automobiles, pianos, paper, rubber, glass, aspirin, penicillin, airplanes,copying machines, furnifure, roads, rifles, printing presses, boots,bicycles,and on and on. In the late 20th century,the list is very long. Engineersoften call manufactured articles "hardware"; anthropologists usually call them "artifacts." Since the phrase "manufactured articles" is awkward, we might use either the word "hardware" or the word "artifact." USAGE 1: HARDWARE (OR ARTIFACTS): Possible denotation: non-natural objects, of all kinds. manufactured humans. bv The next most common usage of 'technology'is hardware.Usuallythis the processof manufacturing includesthe manufacturingequipment, and usage sometimesit includes in addition the peoplewho operate the equipment. In either case this is r truncated usage in a very important sense.What of is usuallybeing implied, in the important sense this usage, must be much more than iust the machinery and the people. It is what I will call a sociotechnical rystem of manufacture.For example, (or airplanes a completesystemfor manufacturing pianos,bicycles,eyeglasses, atom bombs,aspirin, for blue jeans, etc.). This full usageis essential many reasonsthat will be illustrated shortly.

USACE 2: SOCIOTECHNICAL SYSTEM OF MANUFACTURE. Possible denotation: All From Bulletin of Science, Technoloty & Society 1 (1985): 215-18, New York, Pergamon Press, the elements needed to manufacture a particular Copyright 1985 STSPress.Reprinted permis- kind of hardware,the complete working system O by sionof SagePublications, Inc. including its inputs: people;machinery;resources;

What is Technology? politicaland physand processes; legal,economic, icalenvironment. ability to sensevariousaspects the world around of us. We makerifles, pistols,grenades, atom bombs, and other weaponsand diffuse them into armies, of A third commonusage the word "technology"is navies and air forces which are systems for or methodologit "knom-hop." In a famous extending our capacity to kill, to oppressother uchnique, polemic Ellul uses the word "technology" to peoples, and to protect ourselves from being opby denote any form of rationalized methodology. pressed others.And, we do all this in order to such as Brooks, suggest"technology" be perform tasks which individual humans cannot Others, usedto denote the knowledge needed within a perform without such systems. system of manufacture. These are sociotechnical USAGE 4: A SOCIOTECHNICAL SYSTEM evenmore truncated uses of the term "technolOF USE is a svstemusing combinations hardof ogy," and in some instancesthis truncation has ware and people (and usually other clements) to confusions, in someinterpretas significant caused accomplish tasks that humans cannot perform of ations Ellul's that occuredin part owing to the unaidedby such systems to extendhuman captranslationof the term "La Technique"from the acities. French.Others appear to use "technology" to given denotemethodology for accomplishing any I am makinga point of saying"thesesystems"and to as task, in, "we havethe technology do the job." not iust "hardware" because nearlyalways need we In order to avoid these potential confusions,we more than just the hardware to createtheseextenmight call thesevarious flunctions: "knowledge," sionsof human capacities. Even if a singlehuman "technique," "know-how," "methodology" (or is using a musicalinstrument,there is the needfor system") as appropriate. "sociotechnical of knowledge music and ingrainedneuromuscular USAGE 3: The information, skills, proce- skills, from long practice, to make even adequate sses, procedureslor accomplishingtasks:Pos- music. To createa band, a systemof transport,an and sible denotation:KNOWLEDGE, TECHNIQUE, army, or a footballteamtakesmany more elements. KNOW-HOW, OR METHODOLOGY in the The central point is that we have learned to vastly usual sense extendour muscular,sensing,and mental capaciofthese words. ties through the use of sociotechnicalsystemsof Whenwe include the many variationsand shadings manufactureand use. ofthethreeusages above, they constitute These extensions human capacities useof discussed of by together common usages the term "technolthe of sociotechnical systemsare both quantitativeand ogy." However, there is a fourth related concept qualitative. Using autos or trains we can move thathasno common name,but which is essentialto over the land much faster than we can unaided by understanding human implicationsof "tech- such systemsof transport. Using sociotechnical the nology" in the ways intended by much public systemsbuilt to exploit airplanes,we can fly, a discussion.will call this fourth conceptsociotech- function hardly any of us can perform unaided. I ,ttcal systems Using various weaponsin armies, navies or air o/zsa. Such systemsform the basisof whatwe do with the hardwareafter we havemanu- forces,we can vastlyextend our ability to kill and factured and it. oppress.Using telescopes microscopes, X-rays For example, we embody automobiles in a and other hardware appropriate in we systems, can system roads, gas stations,laws for ownership seefar beyond the scopeof the naked eye. Using of andoperation, rules o[ the road, etc., and use the engines and motors in appropriate we systems, can combined manifoldextensions oIour musclepower.In system (the autos plus all the rest) to create extend we the human capacityfor moving ourselves a relativelyrecentset of systems, are extending llld our possessions about - transport.We manu- our memory and data manipulatingcapacities by tacture violins, pianos,drums, guitars,and other useof computersystems. rnusicalinstruments. We then embody them in systemof use,the manuWithout sociotechnical 0rchestras bands to extend the ways in which factureofhardwarervouldhaveno purpose. Taken and wecan make music. We build microscopes, tele- together, sociotechnical systemsof manufacture scopes, systems CAT-scanners,thermometers, and other and sociotechnical ofuse form the physical lnstruments past and present.The and utilize them in svstemsto extend bases all human societies of 0Ur

Stephen J. Kline ar of human consequences this statement so profound that thev need a book for complete elaboration, but I will give a few illustrationshere. The pattern of creating hardware in special sociotechnicalsystemsof manufacture and diffussystems ing the hardwareinto other sociotechnical is of use in order to extend our human capacities not a product of the "high-tech age." On the contrary, the pattern was first adopted by our evolutionary ancestors two species before we became homo sapiens,roughly two million years ago according to tbe best current evidence from paleoanthropology. humanshavebeenmaking We our living on earthby useofthis patternfor so long a time, that it hasmateriallyaffected evolutionour ary path. Other animals use sociotechnical systems (beavers, ants, bees,and prairie dogs, to mention only a few). However, we humans ar the only speciesthat purposefully makes innovations in our sociotechnical in systems order to (hopefully) improve their functioning. This characteristic of purposeful innovation in sociotechnical systems distinguishes humansfrom other animalsas least asclearly any single characteristic. as The historl,of changes sociotechnical in systern5 with major eras each is a history that accelerates roup;hlva period of ten times shorter than 11. preceding period for the past million or 1$,q years.The changes look much like a growth function. There is a sharp breakin the rate ofacceleration in the extension of human powers via systemsabout 1840 as both Liensociotechnical hard (1979) and Kline (i977) have documented independently. Without sociotechnicalsystems, we humans might not exist as a species, and if we did, ryg would be relativelvpowerless, few in number xn4 of little import on the planet.Using the extensions that become possible with current sociotechnical systems,we have in a large measure becomethe lords ofthe planet.Ifwe are to exercise powers the of lordship well, we will certainlyneedto be clear on the source of those powers and the processes through which they are exercised. F'ew topics are more basic to STS studies than an understanding the nature of sociotechnical of systemsand the pattern in which we humans use them to create the physical basesfor our societies past and present.

*,APhilos i Perspe
i:.

Arnold Geh
I
Ernst Kapp in his Plir wasprobably the first t man's organicsh, tween Shortly iveintelligence. oilanguageLudwig Nr Tooll (1880)wrote: "f from nature, for he his own organr created tool making animal."l (DasMenschheitsrritsel I 1922), Jos Ortega y ( hem utopisc lllesen,1951) agree that the necessi from man's organ def (1940),using Herder's being,describedhow n vatedenvironment is n( a lackofspecialized org consequently hasto r he physical survival b,vin environmental conditit fire, and hunting tech behavioral patterns d species, that the wo so mustrefer to both the; From Researchin phi (1983): 2O$-16, abric Rogers and Cart Mitch: Ansicht derTechnik," in alter, ed. Hans Freyer, andGeorgWeippert, Dr. PP. 101-18. Reprint( Elsevier Science.

References Stephen Kline (1977).Toward the UnderstandJ. ing of Technology in Society: Part One - The BasicPattern.Mechanical Engineering 99/l: 40-5. John H. Lienhard (1979).The Rate of Technological Improvement Beforeand After the 1830s. Technology Culture 20. and