How is technology use shaped by the wider culture?

“How we use technologies is shaped by the games and forms of life that are already in place “before’’ we use them. There is already a “grammar’’ of technology. Of course there is also a “grammar’’ in the sense of “syntax’’: specific rules how to put together different parts for instance, or specific operating instructions. But there is also a grammar in a wider, more social and cultural sense: there are already particular activities and ways we do things, there are already games, and the technologies are part of those games and their use is shaped by the games.”

– Mark Coeckelbergh

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How does technology enable scientific discovery?

“We should notice the force, effect, and consequences of inventions, which are nowhere more conspicuous than in those three which were unknown to the ancients… printing, gun powder, and the compass. For these three have changed the appearance and state of the whole world… innumerable changes have been thence derived, so that no empire… appears to have exercised a greater power and influence on human affairs than these mechanical  discoveries.”

– Francis Bacon

The idea that science is a “theory producing machine” came to be challenged by philosophers of science such as Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn. A growing, if still controversial, view sees science as situated within social, political and constructivist contexts.  Even amongst scientific realists (and I tentatively include myself in that camp), it is recognised that science itself is technologically embodied:

“Without instruments and laboratories, there was no science.” (p. 7)

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