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Researchers and engineers normally prefer to define innovation as used science, instead of as the important things that people make and utilize. More recently, scholars have actually borrowed from European philosophers of "method" to extend the meaning of technology to various kinds of instrumental reason, as in Foucault's work on innovations of the self (strategies de soi). Dictionaries and scholars have used a range of meanings. The offers a meaning of the term: "using science in industry, engineering, and so on, to invent useful things or to resolve problems" and "a maker, piece of equipment, technique, and so on, that is developed by technology." Ursula Franklin, in her 1989 "Real Life of Innovation" lecture, offered another meaning of the concept; it is "practice, the method we do things around here." The term is frequently used to suggest a specific field of innovation, or to describe high innovation or simply customer electronics, instead of technology as a whole.

In this usage, innovation refers to tools and makers that might be used to resolve real-world problems. It is a far-reaching term that may include easy tools, such as a crowbar or wood spoon, or more complex devices, such as a space station or particle accelerator. Tools and makers need not be material; virtual technology, such as computer system software and company methods, fall under this meaning of technology. W. Brian Arthur specifies innovation in a similarly broad way as "a method to meet a human purpose." The word "technology" can also be used to describe a collection of strategies.

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