An Ontology of Technological Dynamics
"Technology" is a word about as specific as "sports" or "food" or "animal". There are numerous different aspects of it, and, more importantly, they act in very different ways.
There are a few different ontologies out there. Your classic engineering disciplines would be among the more typical classifications, or you could refer to Joseoph Needham's organisation of his epic Science and Civilisation in China. I find these and others unsatisfactory on the grounds that they typically are arranged around what technology does rather than how it does it.
I've threatened several times to come up with my own
better different classification, and whilst waiting out one of our periodic sandstorms here on Altair IV, I've cobbled together this. It's both incomplete and imperfect, but I'll sic my monsters of the Id on you for dwelling on that.
I would like to know if this makes sense to others, if there are any obviously missing categories, or if anything looks terribly out-of-place.
With a better mind-mapping tool I might draw relations between different parts, e.g., metals and fire give you smelting. Technological ontology may not be a DAG.
Explaining the major classifications:
Symbolic Expressions & Manipulation concerns logical representations, from speech to programming.
Governance, Management, & Organisation includes organisational systems such as government and business organisation, though those might fit elsewhere (as in Symbolic Expression).
Process & Systemic Knowledge is about or how to do something. Most of the useful arts and sciences are included.
Materials are specific to a type of matter. The types could be extended (there are very few fluids or gasses present), but what's here should be representative.
Fuels concern any process in which energy is provided through consumed inputs. This seems a large component of 20th century progress.
Power transmission and transformation concerns how energy is directed, applied, or transformed. I see strong similarities to physical (e.g., shaft/belt) and electrical systems, though of course, distinctions as well.
Scaling and Network Technologies will probably strike most as an odd set. What they share in common is a Moore's Law type dynamic -- these are technologies with (at least for a significant aspect of scale) increasing returns to scale -- things improve at an accelerating rate. Cities and computer chips have a lot in common in this regard.
One thought is that this presentation helps distinguish the different dynamics of various technologies, as well as possible or probable upper bounds in application.
As I said, there's almost certainly areas missing. I realised now that biotech and genetic engineering seemed AWOL. Those would probably go under symbolic expression, as I see things, and I've added them there, though I'll entertain other suggestions.
I submit stuff not for approval but to be picked to pieces. Hammer at this.
(Hammers: simple tools, power transmission.)