THE SEAMLESS WEB: TECHNOLOGY, SCIENCE, ET CETERA, ET CETERA
There are problems with the contextual approach espoused by historians of science and technology, many of whom are reacting against the internalist mode. Flaws in contextualism began to appear when historians of technology rejected the notion that science is the context of technology, or that technology is simply applied science. They proposed an interactive relationship between technology and science. This then raised the question of whether the relationship between technology and other so-called contextual factors, such as the political and the social, should be redefined as interactive. The same question was asked about science and its context. A way out of the constraints of contextualism and into an interactive mode is now posed by the use of the systems or networks approach. Heterogeneous professionals such as engineers, scientists and managers, and heterogeneous organisations such as manufacturing firms, utilities and banks become interacting entities in systems or networks. Disciplines, persons and organisations in systems and networks take on one another's functions in a seamless web. This chapter explores these shifting approaches and changing assumptions.
In the past, many histories of technology and science were non- contextual, or internalist. These histories presented invention of artefacts and discovery of facts in a chronological narrative. Technology was usually defined as the technical artefacts; science as knowledge. As the complexity and efficiency of machines,