Langdon Winner - Autonomous Technology

Author: Winner, Langdon
Title: Autonomous Technology: Technics-out-of-control as a Theme in Political Thought
Publisher: The MIT Press
Year: 1977


Pages 11-12: (apparatus, technique, and organization)

I shall offer some basic definitions that I will be using in my writing here.

First I want to note the class of objects we normally refer to as technological -- tools, instruments, machines, appliances, weapons, gadgets -- which are used in accomplishing a wide variety of tasks. In speaking of objects of this sort I shall employ the term apparatus. For many persons, "technology" actually means apparatus, that is, the physical devices of technical performance.

I also want to mark the whole body of technical activities -- skills, methods, procedures, routines -- that people engage in to accomplish tasks and include such activities under the rubric technique. The root of this word is the Greek technē ("art," "craft," or "skill"), which linguists have further traced to the Indo-European root teks- ("to weave or fabricate"). From the earliest times, technique has been distinguished from other modes of human action by its purposive, rational step-by-step way of doing things.

In addition "technology" frequently refers to some (but not all) varieties of social organization -- factories, workshops, bureaucracies, armies, research and development teams, and the like. For my uses here, the term organization will signify all varieties of technical (rational-productive) social arrangements. Another closely related term -- network -- will mark those large-scale systems that combine people and apparatus linked across great distances.

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