We need to recognize theories of technology

Any assertion about technology--e.g. that it doesn't bring as much change as one thinks, or that it changes everything--unavoidably involves a theory of technology. So, what kinds of theories do people espouse? In his Critical Theory of Technology  (Oxford, 1991), Andrew Feenberg suggests that people usually adopt one of two theories of technology:

Feenberg then defines a third approach, a critical theory of technology, which combines elements of the other two approaches.

It's important, as we continue to talk about technology use, that we understand both our own concept of technology and the concepts of others. Such an understanding can help each of us understand how others ground their own arguments, and it makes common ground easier to find.

(I'm drawing here from Feenberg's work. You might also consult Carl Mitcham's Thinking Through Technology  for another useful overview of technological theories.)

Stuart Blythe
Purdue University