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Using the term "innovation" has actually changed considerably over the last 200 years. Before the 20th century, the term was uncommon in English, and it was utilized either to refer to the description or research study of the useful arts or to allude to technical education, as in the Massachusetts Institute of Innovation (chartered in 1861). The term "technology" increased to prominence in the 20th century in connection with the Second Industrial Transformation. The term's meanings altered in the early 20th century when American social researchers, beginning with Thorstein Veblen, translated ideas from the German idea of into "innovation." In German and other European languages, a distinction exists in between technik and technologie that is missing in English, which typically equates both terms as "innovation." By the 1930s, "innovation" referred not just to the research study of the commercial arts but to the industrial arts themselves.
Researchers and engineers typically prefer to specify technology as applied science, rather than as the important things that people make and utilize. More just recently, scholars have borrowed from European thinkers of "method" to extend the significance of innovation to different types of critical reason, as in Foucault's work on innovations of the self (strategies de soi). Dictionaries and scholars have provided a range of meanings. The deals a meaning of the term: "making use of science in market, engineering, and so on, to create helpful things or to fix issues" and "a maker, piece of equipment, technique, etc., that is developed by technology." Ursula Franklin, in her 1989 "Real World of Technology" lecture, provided another meaning of the idea; it is "practice, the way we do things around here." The term is often utilized to suggest a specific field of innovation, or to refer to high innovation or simply consumer electronic devices, rather than innovation as a whole.