Technology

When used in everyday speech today, the keyword “technology” refers primarily to physical devices. Yet this usage was not common until the second half of the twentieth century. During the seventeenth century, “technology” was either a systematic study of the arts or the specific terminology of an art (Casaubon 1612; Bentham 1827; Carlyle 1858). An encyclopedia, dictionary, or publication like Keywords for American Cultural Studies would have been called a technology. Related terms such as “tool,” “instrument,” and “machine” described physical devices (Sutherland 1717; Hanway 1753). In the nineteenth century, “technology” became the practical application of science, a system of methods to execute knowledge (Horne 1825; Raymond Williams 1976/1983), or a discipline of the “Industrial Arts” focused on the use of hand and power tools to fabricate objects (G. Wilson 1855; Burton 1864). During the twentieth century, the meaning of “technology” gradually …

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