Toward a wider understanding of information technology

When you think about information technology, what comes to mind? Undoubtedly, you first think of computers. Even the dictionary agrees. That’s why the IT department will help you connect to the Internet and diagnose your hardware problems—we unfailingly associate IT with computers.

But let’s take a step back. What should we mean when we say information technology? If we look a bit closer at that dictionary definition, we’ll have the answer: a system by which we transmit information.

And we transmit information in so many ways: computers and mobile devices, sure, but also language, writing, art, ritual, books, gestures, touch, food… The list is endless, and information technology has a history much deeper than the one hundred years we usually allow it.

Indeed, the bulk of information technology studies are devoted to devices created in the past few decades—I think we miss out on so much by not analyzing the wider spectrum of human communication from the lens of information technology.


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