Work and Tools
Original Publication Date: 1982-Oct-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-05
Software Patent Institute
PETER DRUCKER: AUTHOR [+2]
Peter Drucker's article, ";Work and Tools,"; provides some insight into the author's perception of how the history of technology should be studied Occasionally the Annals will print historiographic essays such as this one, relating specifically to the principles of historical research and how they apply to the study of technology.
THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.
Copyright ©; 1982 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.
Work and Tools
(Image Omitted: Reprinted from Peter F. Drucker, Technology, Management and Society (New York, Harper & Row, 1970) with permission of the author. AFIPS 0164-1239/82/040342-347)
Peter Drucker's article, "Work and Tools," provides some insight into the author's perception of how the history of technology should be studied Occasionally the Annals will print historiographic essays such as this one, relating specifically to the principles of historical research and how they apply to the study of technology.
Drucker's paper reminds us that the ways in which technology relates to society are both multifaceted and complex. Technological advance does not occur in a vacuum, but is most frequently a direct response to a varied combination of social, economic, legal, and political forces. In addition, technology itself can have profound effects on the society in which we live. To focus on technological advance exclusively in terms of its mechanical and electronic components, then, is naive and overly simplistic.
Drucker points out that when studying any major development, we should not make assumptions about the overall relationship between technology and society, since this interrelationship is not static; it is continually changing For example, we tend to think of science and technology as two sides of the same coin; but these two disciplines have not always been wedded in a bond of cooperation and mutual interchange. In previous eras, technology was far more closely associated with the arts, trade, and commerce than with the sciences. Inventors were not always trained in the sciences and were not always attuned to the needs of scientists for instruments and tools. Only within the last two centuries has a close association between these two disciplines evolved.
Moreover, even in the modern era, science and technology have not always been viewed as interrelated disciplines. We need only look back to the rather precarious relationship between mathematics and computing in the 1940s to realize that the so-called marriage between science and technology that many of us take for granted can be less than blissful.
In a similar vein, the belief that technological progress is a positive force in society has not been a universally accepted doctrine, either in the past or in the present. The General Electric slogan of the 1950s that "progress is our most important product" epitomized the view at the time that social progress depends on technological advance. We now live in an era in which technology is no longer unquestionably correlated with social progress. Recent controversies surrounding nuclear energy, recombinant DNA, environmental consequences of pollutants, and -- even within our own field -- the effects of computing on privacy issues an...