What Is Technology?

Technology is a word with many different meanings, but it is most generally understood to be the rational process of creating means to order and transform matter, energy, and information to realize valued ends. It includes the tools, devices, systems, and methods that create these transformations; it also encompasses the knowledge to discover new means for doing so.

Many people use technology to improve their lives, including increasing their prosperity and comfort, making medical advances, and connecting with friends and family. However, technology can also disrupt social hierarchies, create pollution, and deplete natural resources. Furthermore, the ways in which technologies are embraced and used can differ greatly from those imagined by their designers. For example, the internet, designed to facilitate communication between computer networks, has become a critical vehicle for commerce and political influence, while social media platforms, originally created to connect individuals through the sharing of life events, have become key avenues for harassment and bullying.

A broad understanding of the different types of technology can help students make informed decisions about the products they purchase or use in their daily lives. For example, knowing the difference between a MacBook and a Windows laptop can help a student decide which device is best for their needs based on price, functionality, and design preferences. Furthermore, students who understand how to properly use and manage their digital devices can better protect their privacy and limit the potential for distraction. This is especially important given that most low-income students do not have access to the same types of computers and high-speed internet as their wealthier peers.