The impact of technological change can be seen on the shift in our ideas of moral virtue. This transformational impact occurs when interpreting reality honestly.

The case is our image of farms.

agrarian visions

Between 1790 and 1890 pastoral & agrarian values gave way to urban and industrial mores throughout Western Europe and America.

Pursell's argument | Postman's argument | Pacey's warnings

Terms | Richard Arkwright | Broken Defenses | Postman's unseen features | Postman suggests that



Technology is not so obviously simple to explain because Pacey says it has dimensions that alter how we perceive the world and Pursell says that tool complexes reorganize our lives, world, space and time to such a degree that even the concept of technology has changed its meaning and identification with bodies of knowledge and informed, powerful people over time.

Pursell says technology is complicated because it has three related characteristics that influences inventions, use, dispersal and changes in certain tools that shape our political and econometric relations such as Taylorism and Fordism emerging from the application of timing devices to labor and the assembly line to manufacturing and mass production of automobiles.

Postman argues that invisible technologies complicate our understanding of hidden powers that machines possess to alter our behavior and beliefs.

Pacey concludes that ongoing dialog is essential if social organization is to be co-dependent on new automated devices and not be swept aside by converging automated systems

Kaku warns us that the combined impact of automated tool complexes is greater than the mere sum of their separate component parts

The effect is titanic and our responses diminished, unless we grow.


Examples of complexity
reason for complexity tool complexes and triggers of change

electricity, media, radiation and broadcasting

Problem Solving

parking meters, phones, aircraft, moving pictures
bar - code reader, refrigeration, nuclear fission
Taylorism, the Hawthorne experiment, the Milgram experiment, automation

What do these mean?

the coming together of related tools or ideas related to tool use to form a new technology altogether.

Problem Solving
“Standardization is the solution of last resort, an admission that we cannot solve the problem in any other way.”

page 137.

Solutions can include exaptation or the coming together of very different technical artifacts, practices or ideas, hence the use of a tool originally intended for one purpose to solve a totally different problem.

the influence that tool use has on people, places, other things and our perception.
Influences include Pacey’s dimensions of technology practice and experience.

(p. 8).



The means adopted to produce the technology, techniques to use and implement the tools and the behavior required in order to make tools bring about the desired results.

Each of the experiments reveal very different qualities of human behavior that can be accentuated or modified by tools.


Technology in 1615, & science in 1660 did not refer then to what they refer to today.

page 121.


The change in the respective meanings of technology and its child science came in the 18th and 19th century with the industrial revolution's systematic transformation of work, living, wealth, and social organization. In so doing technology was turned into "applied science" and was diminished from having been the parent to the servant of scientific discoveries.

"Scientific Progress

In hypothesizing about ties of science and technology, Pursell detects an inversion in the meanings of technology and science from 400 year ago until today.

ETYMOLOGICAL confusion between
words Technology Science
Then: 1615 1660
  discourse on the arts trained skill required TRADE or CRAFT
Mid 19th century: useful arts natural history and philosophy
And Now: Applied science knowledge of natural laws
  Practical use of discoveries means of discovering new knowledge

“the power to define is the power to control” because the arrangement of words is deeply POLITICAL

p. 121.

Hypothesis number one, I. Science and technology separate

ANTIQUITY – mind versus hands to do work

p. 120.

Hypothesis number two, II.
Science and Technology always intimately related.

p. 120.


Note: Recall that Daedalus, was the artful craftsman of Greek legend who built the Labyrinth of Maze at Knosses in Crete, he represents the knowing hand united with the able mind.

Only in 19th century did change emerge between TOOLS as a means to know the world and the alternative MEANS OF KNOWING by only reading about the world.

Pursell, pp. 118-143.

Arnold Pacey, Technology in World Civilization

Pacey on Meaning | Pursell | Technology defined | Dimensions of Technology | Chronology


Pursell | Renaissance | Modern | Mechanization | Adaptations