Technology is the collective term for all the knowledge, skills, processes, machines, and equipment used in the creation of goods and services or in the achievement of goals, including scientific research. In business, technology is applied to the process of doing business. Technology is also used to refer to the systems and devices we use to access information and to perform our daily activities. Some examples of technologies are computer technology, telecommunications technology, industrial technology, medical technology, information technology, and information science. Today, nearly every field utilizes some form of technology.
The scope and impact of technological objects and processes have increased dramatically over time. Take the development of computer technology. Over the course of the past 150 years, computers and their parts have almost completely replaced most other tools that humans used. Computers are now seen not only in business situations but also in many consumer and education situations.
The scope and impact of technological change are a matter of growing concern for most people, and the definition of technological change is constantly changing as society changes. Two broad approaches to defining technology are applied science and institutional theory. Applied science can be thought of as a way of thinking about technology. In applied science, technological objects and processes are viewed as existing apart from human purposes, practices, and institutions and are therefore seen as having an independent definition independent of those aspects of society that define it.
On the other hand, institutional theory defines technology as part and parcel of modern life and society. This definition includes a number of elements that are important to the understanding of how technological systems and objects function and why they are unique. For instance, technological objects, processes, and activities can be studied as having a social meaning independent of the individuals who use them. Within the framework of this definition, technological systems and activities can be studied as having both an intended and unintended meaning, depending upon the context in which they are used.
The subject of technology has many variations as it pertains to definitions. Some definitions distinguish between technological objects and systems, while others focus on how technological systems or objects function as a whole. Still others insist that different types of technological objects or systems produce different results, thus technology is not a specific type of object or process but something that can be produced or evolved over time. As technology has become more diverse, the definition has become more open as well.
The narrow application of the definition of technology in this text is reflected in its use of the word "technology" as a term, rather than a definition. In applying this definition to technology studies, scholars usually only apply it to technological systems and objects, examining how they work and what value they create. In doing so, they also tend to ignore the informal, human-centric aspects of technological systems, seeing these aspects as trivial and irrelevant to understanding how they are constructed or how they contribute to a society or the world. This narrow usage is a deviation from the broader consensus definition of technology used throughout most of the literature on technology and society.