Technacy is the ability to understand, skillfully apply and communicate creative and 'balanced' technological solutions that are based on understanding the contextual factors involved. The Australian meaning of technacy is as a theoretical 'model' of technological activity. It implies a deep (critical) knowledge of the nature of technologies as systems, or phenomena or simply as a comprehensive prowess in specific technologies, especially if understood in the context of their application.
It is that ability to show an holistic understanding of technology, and make rounded judgements for effective and usually sustainable technological solutions. Not to be confused with technological literacy, which has a variety of meanings world-wide from skilled use of computers, to the ability to know and use the technical language for a
Technological Genre(eg Australian NSW Board of Studies definition), to a broad scientific and technological orientation of knowledge as suggested by the [http://www.iteaconnect.org/TAA/TAA.html International Technology Education Association] (ITEA)'s definition or via the Wiki entry on Technological literacy. Technacy, in Australian literature, is the name of a specific theoretical framework for understanding technological activity whereas Technological Literacy, as noted above, is not based on a theoretical framework, but rather is used as a broad expression for a range of ideas around technology and associated interpretations of desired capabilities. To this end they are complementary concepts.
Technate people study the context of a technological problem in a comprehensive way before selecting the knowledge, tools and resources needed to progress a solution. This comprehensive assessment is critical to the success of the solution. Generally, being technate is demonstrating the ability to develop 'balanced' solutions based on a collection of key ideas within the context (see below for the four minimum technacy elements). Therefore, technate people successfully solve technological problems - whether in computing or product design - as they have clearly considered the purpose and context for the end use of the developed solution.
Literacy, Numeracy, Technacy - Comparative Metaphors
Technacy is to the study of technologies, as
literacyis to the study of languages, and numeracyis to the study of mathematics.
literacy, where there are functional levels to being literate (signing your name, basic reading and comprehension) to sophisticated levels (powerful and effective poetry, comprehension of complex constructs in meaning and context), so too in technacy there are functional levels to being technate (skilled and knowledgeable in use of basic tools for a job, use of basic software to perform a task) to sophisticated levels (design and develop or evaluate appropriate technology solutions that are sustainable for specific and complex contexts in place or time).
literacywhere there are various [http://www.literacymatters.com/texttypes.html "text types"] to master (such as narrative, transactional, procedural and persuasive texts, recounts, reports and explanations), so too in technacy there are various Technological Genreof technology knowledge that may be mastered (such as Information and Communication Technologies, Timber Technologies, Metal technologies, Composite based Technologies (plastics), Electrical technologies, Food Technologies, Textiles Technologies, or Human Management Systems as technologies and so on). These Technological Genreare commonly presented in the form of trades and technical faculties in schools, colleges and universities.
Australian Federal Government has [http://www.dest.gov.au/archive/science/astec/future/final/futureb.html set a target] for this capability across all K-12 and teacher education. It asserts that all technological activity always, whether it is immediately apparent or not, contains the following:
# task purpose and context factors: normally difficult to control in the first instance and includes temporal (time based) and contingency factors;
# agent(s) of the task: usually seen as human contribution of knowledge, technique, organisation, skill, process, values, etc. The agent is normally, but not exclusively, the human contribution (sometimes labelled 'Human Factors' or simply "People");
# at least one physical or abstract 'tool' being used: either devices/instruments or 'manipulators' such as algorithms or systems;
# at least one resource material or data being manipulated by the above tool: includes such things as materials drawn from the eco-environment, data, or objects shaped by the 'tools'.
However, the notion of technacy neither implies good or bad design, but rather, models the essential elements inherent in all technological activity; at any scale of complexity, or at any time historically. It therefore suggests that good or bad design can be explained through analysis of the four technacy elements and the interactions of those elements. It offers a basic framework for tasks that may include:
* planning what to address in technological research,
* educational experiences,
* evaluating situations from a technological perspective or,
* creating innovative solutions in new contexts or purposes or by way of mixing
# All technological activity integrates the above four elements as a minimum system. Thus, no technological activity is possible with less than the four elements being engaged as a minimum system.
# All technologies are value laden and context dependent, and as such, technology transfer problems can occur when a solution intended for one context and purpose is not appropriate for a different context and purpose
# The above four elements of technacy interact in a deliberate way
# The above four elements are paradoxically both resource and constraints to the functionality of the system
# The four minimum elements form the basis of
Technological Genre: eg, the Genré of Textiles technology contains typical and specific tools, materials, and human factors for a purpose and context, that is different from the genre of information technology.
# All events and things can be viewed from a technological perspective, by studying the four elements and their interactions, as a minimum system. However, a technological (technacy) perspective may not be the optimum framework for understanding every event or item under study. Use the technacy perspective appropriately, normally, for understanding the possible technological aspect of any event or item to be studied.
# Innovations often merge different
# The four elements of the technacy theory form a
fractalsystem where any one of them can be a product of another technacy system, and where the product of any technacy system can be an element of a new technacy system. This simple repeating pattern is a 'model' for explaining both the basic underlining structure of technological activity, and also its complexity and seemingly unlimited scope of manifestations.
# All technologies and technological systems tend to display inherent logical functionality. A great deal of these logical functions are based on the physical sciences and are usually the result of design.
Technology transfer into remote Australian, largely traditional, Indigenous communities has raised serious concerns about the way mainstream discourse perceives technologies as values neutral and not context specific. A national Indigenous Technology research agency created the concept in 1986 to help communicate the understanding that all technologies are based on a fundamental system of interdependent factors. Understanding this system, or technacy, is to know technologies wholly, and as such, offers engineers, designers and policy makers a more robust framework for transference of technologies across cultures or into other contexts.
*http://www.dest.gov.au/archive/Science/astec/future/findings/execsumm.html Download the ASTEC Foresight 2010 Reports: chapters 16 and 17.
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