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Scientists and engineers generally choose to define technology as applied science, rather than as the important things that individuals make and use. More recently, scholars have obtained from European philosophers of "method" to extend the significance of innovation to numerous kinds of critical factor, as in Foucault's work on technologies of the self (methods de soi). Dictionaries and scholars have used a range of definitions. The offers a definition of the term: "the use of science in industry, engineering, etc., to create helpful things or to resolve problems" and "a device, tool, technique, and so on, that is produced by technology." Ursula Franklin, in her 1989 "Genuine World of Technology" lecture, gave another definition of the concept; it is "practice, the method we do things around here." The term is frequently used to imply a specific field of technology, or to refer to high technology or simply customer electronics, instead of technology as a whole.

In this use, innovation describes tools and devices that might be utilized to solve real-world issues. It is a far-reaching term that may include basic tools, such as a crowbar or wood spoon, or more complicated devices, such as a spaceport station or particle accelerator. Tools and devices require not be material; virtual innovation, such as computer software and business techniques, fall under this definition of technology. W. Brian Arthur defines technology in a likewise broad way as "a way to fulfill a human function." The word "technology" can also be used to describe a collection of methods.

When integrated with another term, such as "medical innovation" or "area technology," it describes the state of the particular field's understanding and tools. "State-of-the-art innovation" refers to the high technology available to humankind in any field. Innovation can be considered as an activity that forms or alters culture. Additionally, innovation is the application of mathematics, science, and the arts for the benefit of life as it is known. A contemporary example is the increase of communication technology, which has lessened barriers to human interaction and as an outcome has actually helped spawn brand-new subcultures; the rise of cyberculture has at its basis the advancement of the Web and the computer.