What is technology and how do tool complexes reshape human needs?

Anything used to change from a current, existing condition to a desired state of affairs.

Three related spheres of technology may be seen as a tetrahedron and are:

  computer use  
  Personal sphere  
  tringle computer

          Tectonic or technical


The keys are three aspects or dimensions that affect every engagement of technology.

Tools as artifacts
Organizational Aspects
Metaphorical Aspect




systematic links

how we organize our lives


wheels of change

"dynamo of activity"

"the good shepherd"

drives a hard bargain

nose to the grindstone


Technology, as one student says, "gets inside of your head," because all tools according to Sir Peter Medawar are actually an extension of the human capacity for sensing, adapting to circumstances in acquiring a living and extending our capacity to utilize ourselves and the world in a harmony of purpose.

Technology is also a physical manifestation of the hard-wired, cause and effect qualities of our neurological make-up and genetic endowments as human animals.

ideo-technical triangles socio-technical
Mores   Organizational
beliefs   behavior
concepts   actions


Steam engines revolutionized production, work, and life in the 19th century.

Like the steam engine depicted above, whose essential part are described below, any technology demands a certain behavior from its users and that requires a social dimension to tools. The meaning an engine has in our imaginations is related but is best addressed by how we understand the world through language, concepts, and images.


This capacity of tools that come together into complexes based on materials, labor and ingenuity and thus reform the users, the makers, the distributors and their associated worlds is best seen in Arnold Pacey's description of the three facets, aspects or features of technology. We can refer to these facets or aspects of technology as dimensions because they may be visualized as different intersecting planes that bring very new realities into existence.


Tools and tool complexes that create a related technology possess three aspects or facets.

Cultural   Organizational

are three dimensions of any technology and three reasons that "tools" can get into our heads, hands, and hearts simultaneously!

technology as meaning in the hands | visual feature of tools | social meaning of technology


James Watt and the steam engine he improved with his "control" device.

Important links

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Pursell | Pacey–World| Pacey–Meaning | Postman | Tenner | Eberhart | Snow | Kaku