WORD | Techne + logos

Posted on 28/05/2011

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It’s strange when various commentators tell us that we should or shouldn’t rely on technology to create change. In part this is a comment that derives from an understanding of technology as machinery. However, the etymology of this word is more complex and nuanced. The word technology comes from two Greek words – techne and logos. Techne means art, skill, craft, or the way, manner, or means by which a thing is gained. Logos means word, the utterance by which inward thought is expressed, a saying, or an expression. Thus, technology means words or discourse about the way things are gained. While the meaning of the word technology has changed and commonly we understand it to mean something other than this, and based on that etymology I am inclined to think that a technological fix is not such a bad idea in the context of the discourse, including applied and implicit knowledge, about how things are gained. In understanding language as a technology, then we can critically look at the way various debates about sustainability and change are constructed. If we are to gain such ends through discourse or expression, then a technological process is implicit. The visual and discursive languages of professional practices – say, planning and design – can be situated as technologies.

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