Naming technology

I was re-reading Steve Matthewman’s ‘Technology & Social Theory’ and I came across this great passage about the importance of naming technology.

The names we give to technology can affect our use of the technology, how we understand technology,  and how we act and interact through, with, on, in, and from technology.

It also shows the importance of combating technological determinism and the notion that technology will affect us in a uniform manner. Rather than assuming that all technology will be used in a similar manner by all users, it is worth considering how technology emerges from the social, and is framed by our social baggage. How we approach technology may be different from one user to the next (something I believe Comic Book Theory can help us unpack; a subject that I am continuing to develop and flesh out), and this is reflected in how we name technology.

The passage is below, I’d love to know your thoughts and responses!

The same technology can be called different things in different national settings. This can speak to very different perceptions of the same technology. In the US the ‘cellular’ phone references technological infrastructure, in the UK the ‘mobile’ stresses liberation from a fixed location, while in Japan the ‘keitai’ (roughly ‘something you carry with you’) speaks neither to technological possibility nor new-found freedoms but rather to an ‘intimate technological tethering (Ito 2005 p.1).


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