In 'Hand's End: Technology and the limits if Nature', David Rothenberg introduces and develops a theory which encompasses and examines the relationships between : humanity, nature and technology.
The first word that truly needs to be defined in the context of this theory is the term technology. It is best to see this as a historical term, outlining all tools harnessed by humanity to achieve our intentions.
Rothenberg argues that technology, human nature and nature are inextricably linked in a constant dance of give and take, curiosity and discovery. He cites technology as an 'extension of humanity' as we strive to realise our intentions. Rothenberg focuses on the transformative powers of technology; not only in the sense that the tools we use are constantly changed and developed as we find new ways of achieving things, but also in that the users of the tools change. We use technology to achieve our goals and as we do so, our goals change. The most blatantly applicable example of this is the use of technology in the reduction stage of the design process. Often production s approached as a straight forward means to an end. Every time, however, something will happen or a problem will arise that can completely change what you are trying to achieve. This is especially applicable to the web design brief I am currently tackling; as I suspect that what I am trying to create goes far beyond my coding capabilities.
Rothenberg expands on this theory, suggesting that technology is not only a means to an end but rather a method, to understand and 'keep track of our world', saying that 'technology not only does things but serves to explain them'. Although this theory was published in 1993, before the majority of the development of the internet we know today, it's blatantly applicable to this digital platform. Even on the most basic of levels; the internet is a huge source of collective knowledge and information. Also, in an extension of this theme, the communication that is facilitated by the internet an the recordable nature of this communication, especially on social networks such as twitter and Facebook, allows us to examine social and psychological behaviour as it occurs. 'Keeping track of, and attempting to 'understand' the other people that make up our world. As Graphic Design students, we make use of this all the time. For example, sending out surveys to glean some understanding of a target audience, for a particular piece of design.
It could even be said that the products of our work are 'tools' tat form part of Rothenberg's theory; a communication tool, that examines the inner workings of peoples minds, in an attempt to understand and appeal to them. In this way, each design in a designer's career can be seen as an experiment, seeking to explain and understand the people around us. Each design taking the information from the last and refining it, creating a continuos examination of the human psyche.