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I already started quite a fruitful discussion about the term methodology over here, but today's topic is the term technology. Whenever words end in -logy, my brain links them to the field of epistemology, because it does not primarily care about the thing itself, but more about the logic behind the thing.

Wikipedia gives a good explanation how the meaning of the word technology changed in the last 200 years, and mentions the German term Technik which does not have an English equivalent, at least in the form where Technik stands for the material item and not the method of doing things to create the item. Is there a more correct term than technologies for grouping items that require knowledge of techniques (technology) to be created?

E.g., what would be a more correct term to use instead of technologies in the following sentence?

The Internet, planes, cars and mobile phones are technologies that shaped the 20/21st century.

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None other come to mind. Technological advances of the Internet, planes, cars and mobile phones shaped the 20th and 21st centuries –  mplungjan Dec 10 '13 at 13:09
In the context of that sentence you could use "inventions" or "innovations". I think "technologies" is possibly the best fit though. –  Henry Wilson Dec 10 '13 at 13:55

4 Answers 4

"Artifacts" connotes the aspect of being made by people, which seems closest to me to what "technologies" connotes, while "invention" (as Henry Wilson also suggests) connotes the creation moment and perhaps the creator.

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Guys, come on, "artifacts" sounds hideous here. Come on. Inventions or developments or technologies are fine if (for some reason) you like cluttering your writing with completely pointless clauses. "Artifacts" sounds like you're trying to write a sci-fi novel, it's a non-starter in the sentence at hand. –  Joe Blow Jun 5 '14 at 9:39
The poster didn't ask for writing advice. He or she asked for a synonym. –  ChristopherE Jun 8 '14 at 18:35

I would try with developments, as in

The Internet, planes, cars and mobile phones are developments that shaped the 20/21st century.

It matches the first and second senses (i.e. count noun) given here.

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Do what Winston Churchill would have done:

"The internet, planes, cars and mobile phones shaped the 20th century."

Always, when you write: try to remove utter crap.

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"Artifact" is probably the correct term for (almost) anything constructed by human beings, "techniques" referring to at least some of those methods that are used to construct them.

Just a note: the -logy ending should not be associated with epistemology (nor does epistemology concern itself with "the logic behind things" as such). Rather, the -logy ending concerns scientific fields, generally speaking, and is ultimately derived from the Greek -logia which should look suspiciously familiar to "λογος" (logos) to you. Both have to do with "word" or "speech". Thus "biologia" (biology) has to do with the "speaking" about biology, "geologia" (geology), the "speaking about the earth, etc. Thus, technology would come from "tekhnelogia" meaning the "speaking" (or study) of arts, techniques, etc. Understood this way, the way we use the word "technology" is wrong (a misnomer) or imprecise. Of course, it's the the only word that has been used in an etymologically incorrect way. "Methodology" is used to describe a collection of methods used. "Philosophy" is used to describe mission statements. Such is life.

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Can you edit to fix that wall of text? –  dwjohnston Jun 5 '14 at 9:56

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