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Technology is a word we hear a lot these days. But what exactly is "technology?" Is it computers and stereos and DVDs? And how does it affect us? Here's a working definition: Technology is applied knowledge and experience. In other words, when we apply what we know we are using technology. That's simple enough. Guess there's not much more to be said. Or is there?
How many things do you know? A lot, I'll bet. On the other hand, how many things are there that you don't know? Think about that. Wherever you are right now, you are surrounded by things you couldn't possibly make, and therefore by things you don't know.
Let's take one small example: Making a lead pencil.
How do you make a lead pencil? Could you make one if you had to? Let's begin with the word lead. To begin with, the "lead" in a pencil isn't lead. It's a kind of carbon called graphite. It's called "lead" because lead was used by the ancients to mark things and the name just sort of stuck. Pencil leads come in different hardnesses, achieved by mixing differing amounts of powdered graphite, clay, water and wax together and extruding the mixture into thin rods, which are then baked hard. Wood for pencils has to be soft and needs a straight grain. It's cut into strips, which are then grooved to hold the lead, glued together, cut to length, shaped, painted, marked with the manufacturer's name, and so on. Then there's the metal ferrule, the rubber eraser, and the ... Whoa! Hold on. What's the point?
Well, if either of us tried to make a few simple lead pencils it would probably take a couple of days to turn them out, and the results might not look too pretty or work too well. Two days to create 50 cents worth of pencils? You couldn't get wealthy on those wages.
Wealth, you see, is a simple matter of how many things we can own. And the number of things we can own depends, not just on ourselves, but on other people as well, on how well we all go about doing our jobs. Century after century, humankind continues to accumulate more and more know-how and expertise. We -- every last one of us -- are specialists. We each do different, and sometimes highly specialized, jobs.
So what does all that mean?
It means that we are all interdependent. I can't get along without you, and you can't get along without me. You know things I don't and I know things you don't. We have to work as a team, as brothers and sisters, as contributors to a society based upon cooperative effort. What I do creates wealth for you. What you do creates wealth for me. We cannot get along without each other.
Maybe that's another good reason why we should do unto others as we would have them do unto us.