“Technology” is a widely used term that provokes an almost predictable affective response, closes off the possibility of argument, and promises appropriate solutions for whatever problem is at hand. With the addition of “new,” the affect multiplies. “New technology” has become a largely unquestioned goal, measure of progress, and promise of the good life. However, the work performed by the term “technology” depends on its mundane, polysemic, and opportunistic recruitment to variable projects and intentions, always with conceptions of reality and relations of power at stake. Interrogating its uses reveals a lot more about what matters in contemporary society than what it “really” means.

The more or less agreed upon definitions of technology typically fail to make visible the tensions, contradictions, and struggles entailed in its use. Technology has roots in the ancient Greek term techné, which was used differently by Plato and Aristotle to distinguish between knowledge (universal …

This essay may be found on page 191 of the printed volume.

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