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Dr. Rias J. van Wyk

Dr. Rias van Wyk is the Director of Technoscan® Centre in Minneapolis, USA. He is also a Professor Extraordinaire at the University of Stellenbosch. Technoscan® Centre does research on the fundamental nature of technology. Dr. Van Wyk is a former Director of the Master of Science in the Management of Technology Program, University of Minnesota. His academic qualifications include a Master’s degree from Harvard focusing on science, technology and public policy. He is the author of Technology: Its Fundamental Nature (2017) and Technology: A Unifying Code (2003). In 2010 - 2012 he served as the first President of the Management of Technology Accreditation Board (MOTAB). Read on

What is Technology?

Over the years the term "technology" has taken on many meanings. At present it has no consistent interpretation. This impedes effective technology management and policy.

To understand the present status of technological knowledge it is useful to review the 4 phases of its development history:

  1. Accumulation
  2. Consolidation
  3. Fragmentation
  4. Reformation

Refers to the build-up in technological knowledge over the past ten thousand years or so. It was marked by the pragmatic addition of new devices and procedures. During this period the word technology did not exist and there was no unified view. Literature was non-existent or inconsistent. Trade secrets and informal recipes were common.

Covers the period over the past four hundred years. It was dominated by the work of academics. A particular highlight was the contribution of Johann Beckmann who, in 1777, suggested the term technology and who outlined a consolidated framework embracing the full range of technologies. For about one hundred years it had a defining influence on the field and inspired university curricula that taught technology on a scientific basis. It laid the foundation for much technological knowledge existing today

Covers the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The consolidated framework fell apart and orderliness was lost. Technology as a field of knowledge became disjointed, compartmentalized and incomplete. Terminology became imprecise. This is the condition that exists at present.

Covers the attempts in the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries to re-introduce elegant orderliness. These efforts have been limited to the endeavors of small groups of experts and devotees, but have not had an impact on the mainstream of the profession. Technoscan® is giving this activity the highest priority. A text on The Fundamentals of Technology is being prepared. This activity includes involvement of Academic institutions as well as the Social Media. Progress is promising. Participation by colleagues is invited.

Technology: Its Fundamental Nature was published in 2017.

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