On universality in productive and information technology

Julian Warner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Information science has differentiated information technology from productive technology, but the common concept of technology remains largely unexplored. A view of technology as a human construction, applied to productive technology, has begun to be developed to comprehend information technology. Information technology is regarded as a form of knowledge concerned with the transformation of signals from one form or medium into another. Analogous, although not identical, concepts of universality can be distinguished for both productive technology and for information technology. The steam engine has been regarded as a universal source of motive power and of the computer as a universal information machine. Universality helps account for the wide adoption of the steam engine and the computer. For both forms of technology, theoretical considerations related to universality and working constructions embodying universality have, in contrasting ways, been partly separate developments. Further possibilities offered by a view of information technologies as human constructions are indicated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-171
Number of pages5
JournalAslib Proceedings
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences


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