Theory Of Technology

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Overview

The history of technology is often troubled by good ideas that do not, for one reason or another, take off right away--sometimes for millennia. Sometimes, technology comes to a standstill, and sometimes, it even reverses itself. Thus, unlike science, which seems to proceed at a reasonable and calm rate, the progress of technology is difficult to theorize about. While in science many developments are predictable to a certain extent and this predictability may, at times, direct or stymie science's progress--as with stem-cell research and cloning--technological advances, such as the Internet, are often sudden and unpredictable, and therefore frightening.

In Theory of Technology, David Clarke brings together nine authors who try to understand technology from a variety of viewpoints. Rias van Wyk, in "Technology," parses the concept into many angles, including its anatomy, taxonomy, and evolution. Karol Pelc, in "Knowledge Mapping," discusses tracking the evolution of the emerging discipline of technology management. Jon Beard, in "Management of Technology," pursues a similar mapping endeavor, but looks to the patterns of the literature of technology management. Thomas Clarke, in "Unique Features of an R&D Work Environment and Research Scientists and Engineers," takes the reader on a tour of how people of technology present unique challenges to not just management but whole organizations.

Richard Howey, in "Understanding Software Technology," places enterprise software into a meaningful pattern of technology management. Fred Foldvary and Daniel Klein, in "The Half-Life of Policy Rationales," discuss how new technology affects old policy issues. John Cogan, in "Some Philosophical Thoughts on the Nature of Technology," maintains that our Aristotelian search for the essence of technology is doomed. And Peter Bond, in "The Biology of Technology," establishes a basis for the development of a socio-biological approach to understanding the phenomena of technological society and technical change.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Theory of Technology is an important book. It recognizes the near impossibility of forecasting technological progress, or of planning the trajectory that a new technology may take. It goes beyond other studies in showing how understanding of the nature of technology itself is the necessary first step in removing levels of uncertainty from charting those trajectories as they impact our daily lives."

—Paul Ceruzzi, curator, Aerospace Electronics and Computing, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution

"Unstuffy. [Theory of Technology is] a sheltered workshop for the atheoretical in technology studies."

—Russell Maulitz, Department of Family, Community and Preventive Medicine, Drexel University College of Medicine

"Technology is one of those words whose meaning and importance we intuitively know, but have trouble defining and fully understanding. Technology is becoming ever more ubiquitous in our lives and economies, and harnessing it in predictable ways ever more important. Theory of Technology goes a long way toward building a framework of analysis and perspective to overcome these limitations, and thus toward helping us bring order to our thinking and our ability to employ in orderly ways one of the keys to contemporary life."

—Thomas J. Duesterberg, President and CEO, Manufacturers

"Theory of Technology is an excellent and challenging introduction to the field—also for the uninitiated. It offers a history of the discipline, of its attempts to better understand the nature of technology from, among others, philosophical and biological perspectives, and discusses the management of technology and its policy consequences. In also analyzing the semantics of technology theory and practice—a brave enterprise in these days of fads and fashions in wordings and phrases—it not only seeks the (self-)discipline that is needed to support the scientific status of the field but may indeed help increase actual influence on technology practice and policy."

—Marie-Louise Bemelmans-Videc, professor of public administration, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands

"David Clarke's new book about the Theory of Technology is the most comprehensive, multifaceted, and challenging treatment of the subject to date. It also makes a very interesting read. Instead of looking at technology from the perspective of just one author, Mr. Clarke has chosen to ask some of the most respected and provocative experts in the field to look at technology from a variety of major angles that nicely and completely encircle and illuminate the subject. I don't think there is an aspect of modern technology that isn't covered in an entertaining and informative fashion. My profession as a patent attorney puts me in direct, daily contact with the practical aspects of all new technologies. Mr. Clarke's well organized and enjoyable book has helped me appreciate the bigger context of my work. It will stay on the bookshelf in my office in the company of just a handful of other books that give me a better understanding about the world in which we live."

—R. C. Woodbridge, Princeton, NJ

"Technology is one of those words whose meaning and importance we intuitively know, but have trouble defining and fully understanding. Technology is becoming ever more ubiquitous in our lives and economies, and harnessing it in predictable ways ever more important. Theory of Technology goes a long way toward building a framework of analysis and perspective to overcome these limitations, and thus toward helping us bring order to our thinking and our ability to employ in orderly ways one of the keys to contemporary life."

—Thomas J. Duesterberg, President and CEO, Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765808448
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/1/2004
  • Pages: 168
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.36 (d)

Meet the Author

David Clarke (1942-2005) was professor emeritus at Southern Illinois University. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including The Architecture of Alienation: The Political Economy of Professional Education, published by Transaction. In addition he was the former editor of the journal Knowledge, Technology, & Policy.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
1 Technology : a fundamental structure? 1
2 Knowledge mapping : the consolidation of the technology management discipline 25
3 Management of technology : a three-dimensional framework with propositions for future research 35
4 Unique features of an R&D work environment and research scientists and engineers 51
5 Understanding software technology 65
6 The half-life of policy rationales : how new technology affects old policy issues 79
7 Some philosophical thoughts on the nature of technology 91
8 The biology of technology - an exploratory essay 99
9 Technological semantics and technological practice : lessons from an enigmatic episode in twentieth-century technology studies 119
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