The definition of technology

Technology is a funny word. One of the things I learned at the iSchool was that the book, the pencil, even a piece of paper, is a type of technology (this may be old hat to engineers or other technologist-types, but to me it was an “aha” moment). But in development circles, it seems to mean computers, or cell phones, or some sort of computerized technology. I see that as a very limited definition, and counterproductive to the development of truly appropriate and society-changing technology. I get very uncomfortable when I see grants for “technology” for development, or low-income, or other special populations, especially since I know that they won’t give any money for books, art supplies, early-literacy games, etc. I think it is more than worrying about semantics. When the word “technology” is used in place of “computers”, it sends the message that computers are a one-size-fits-all solution to all development and social change situations. This could stifle creative thinking around developing truly appropriate solutions to real problems.


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