History of Technology/Technological Determinism/Great Men of History

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Historiography has moved beyond the old schoolmasters' adage that, "Geography is about maps; history is about chaps." While it is undoubtedly true that certain individuals have had the good fortune to be associated with the introduction of major technological innovations, one ought to remember that even the most isolated inventor must work within the limits of the social, financial, political and technological resources available to him (or her). Consequently, technological advances ought to be viewed within contexts that extend beyond the people that invented them if they are to be understood in a balanced fashion.

Technolgical determinists are those individuals who believe that technology is the major cause of events. Canadian scholar Marshall McLuhan is most often placed in this category. His pronouncements such as "the medium is the message" is typical of the determinist stance. More significant, however, are his four laws of media: enhance, obsolesce, retrieve and reverse.