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Technically Speaking: Why All Americans Need to Know More About Technology

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Technically Speaking

Why All Americans Need to Know More About Technology (2002)
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Cell phones . . . airbags . . . genetically modified food . . . the Internet. These are all emblems of modern life. You might ask what we would do without them. But an even more interesting question might be what would we do if we had to actually explain how they worked?

The United States is riding a whirlwind of technological change. To be sure, there have been periods, such as the late 1800s, when new inventions appeared in society at a comparable rate. But the pace of change today, and its social, economic, and other impacts, are as significant and far reaching as at any other time in history. And it seems that the faster we embrace new technologies, the less we’re able to understand them. What is the long-term effect of this galloping technological revolution? In today’s new world, it is nothing less than a matter of responsible citizenship to grasp the nature and implications of technology.

Technically Speaking provides a blueprint for bringing us all up to speed on the role of technology in our society, including understanding such distinctions as technology versus science and technological literacy versus technical competence. It clearly and decisively explains what it means to be a technologically-literate citizen. The book goes on to explore the context of technological literacy—the social, historical, political, and educational environments.

This readable overview highlights specific issues of concern: the state of technological studies in K-12 schools, the reach of the Internet into our homes and lives, and the crucial role of technology in today’s economy and workforce. Three case studies of current issues—car airbags, genetically modified foods, and the California energy crisis—illustrate why ordinary citizens need to understand technology to make responsible decisions. This fascinating book from the National Academy of Engineering is enjoyable to read and filled with contemporary examples. It will be important to anyone interested in understanding how the world around them works.


Suggested Citation

National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council. 2002. Technically Speaking: Why All Americans Need to Know More About Technology. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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Publication Info

170 pages | 7 x 10
  • Paperback: 978-0-309-08262-4
  • Ebook: 978-0-309-13307-4

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