Tool and Technology

The third chapter in Abstracting Craft on “Tools” has definitions of technology and tool suited for discussing software and computers as craft tools. Some of the key terms he covers are:

Tool, Technology, Instrument, Probe, Mechanism, Machine, Engine, Power, Technique, Medium, and Artifact

“A tool is a moving entity whose use is initiated and actively guided by a human being, for whom it acts as an extension, toward a specific purpose.” (p. 68, McCullough).

The difference between a tool and a technology is the active human guidance. A tool extends a human, whether allowing to apply power or extending their intellectual reach. A technology automates something – it replaces humans or manages them. A tool needs technique or skill, a technology can be deployed by a humanl, but doesn’t need skill to use.

An instrument provides symbollict information about the physical world. While a tool is both probe and power, an instrument typically measures the world – it probes the world and returns information, usually in a symbollic form.

A mechansism has moving parts. A machine is the incarnation of technology – it is the automatic doer. An engine provides power.

We can distinguish tools powered by humans from those powered by engines.

The medium is what tools operate on – a medium constrains and provides possibilities for expression. It is the matter that is formed.

Artifacts are the results of craft. They are the works created by humans out of a medium. They are matter in form.

Is there a medium in digital artistry? Can nothing be formed?