What is Technology? What is Culture?

Looking at the debate of culture in philosophy, sociology, or anthropology the definition of culture is vague and not well defined. However in anthropology the examples of culture, what we know about a past group of people are based on what they left behind, what we can dig up. It is these objects that tell us about the people.

In this case we don’t say it is a mug using person, but a mug culture person.

Definitions of Culture

Culture: A group of people using a technology.

This simple definition groups people and is easy to use.

Example of Culture: Corded Ware Culture

Anthropologists have found that the Corded Ware culture, which existed in Europe from around 3000 BC to 2350 BC, is known for its unique pottery. This pottery has cord-like patterns on it, giving the culture its name.

The pottery was used for everyday activities like cooking, storing food, and holding liquids. These pots were made by shaping clay into the desired form and then pressing cords or strings onto the surface to create the distinctive patterns. Once the design was complete, the pots were hardened by firing them in a kiln or open fire.

This simple yet effective technology helped the Corded Ware people in their daily lives and played a significant role in their culture.

Example of Corded Ware culture pottery

Photo Credit: Einsamer Schütze CC BY-SA 3.0


Modern Day Example of Culture: Twitch Streamers

Twitch streamers use the website Twitch which relies on: streaming technology to broadcast their gameplay. This technology includes high-performance computers, streaming software, cameras, microphones, and the platform itself. The techniques involved in successful streaming encompass gameplay skills, engaging commentary, interactive chat participation, and personal branding.

The Twitch streamer culture itself has shared set of practices and norms (talking to viewers/chat, chatting jokes or useful messages, prohibited language). Streamers and their audiences develop unique communities with their own inside jokes, slang, and rituals. Regular interaction between streamers and viewers fosters a sense of belonging and community. Streamers often collaborate, host each other’s channels, and participate in group events, further reinforcing these cultural bonds.

Additionally, Twitch has its own economy, with subscribers, donations, and sponsorships playing a significant role in the livelihood of many streamers. The way streamers monetize their content reflects their cultural values, emphasizing community support and viewer engagement.

In essence, Twitch streamers form a culture where technology, creativity, and community come together, shaping their way of life and social interactions in a distinctive and meaningful way.

Definition of Technology

Now that we have discussed culture and defined it. Culture: A group of people using a technology. You might be asking, what is technology.

Technology: An optimized method to accomplish a task. The method could be optimized based on: excess or limited available resources, space or terrain the method requires, time to accomplish the task, outcomes of the task.


In economic development the difference between a developing (poorer) and a developed (richer) country is not the average amount of cash the people in the country have. Instead it is the technology the average person in the country uses and the institution in the country that support those technologies.

Technology and Economic Development

When we talk about economic development, we often think about the difference between poorer (developing) countries and richer (developed) countries. Surprisingly, the difference isn’t about how much money people have. It’s more about the technology people use and the institutions that support these technologies.

In a developed country, people use advanced technology every day. This includes things like smartphones, computers, modern healthcare equipment, and efficient transportation systems. These technologies make life easier, more productive, and help people earn more money.

Poorer countries do not have access to the same technology. Couldn’t we just ship poorer countries technology?
No. The poorer country would enjoy the benefits of the new technology, until the technology required maintenance or became unusable (broken).

Tractor Example

An example is a tractor. Farmers in richer countries use modern tractors to increase the amount they can farm and increase the amount of food they can increase. A modern tractor has tires, computer chips, and engine, just to name a few important parts. Now imagine if your tractor broke down in a richer country and a poorer country. In a richer country the farmer could go to a shop to buy the parts or take it to a person the specializes in repairing tractors. In very poor countries there are no shops that sell tractor supplies. A part would have to be ordered from another country and delivered, possibly taking a month. There would not be people who have a job specialized to repairing tractors, the farmer would have to repair the tractor themselves.

Institutions are Important

Institutions like the tractor part shop, or tractor repair people, play a big role. Institutions are the rules and organizations in a country, like schools, private companies, banks, and governments. Good institutions support the use of technology by providing education, ensuring fair business practices, and maintaining law and order. For example, schools teach people how to use technology, banks provide loans for businesses to buy new technology, and governments make sure everyone follows the rules (intellectual property, regulate safe use).

In a developing country, people might not have access to the same level of technology. They might use older tools and methods, which are less efficient and less productive. Institutions in these countries might also be weaker. Schools might not exist, or may not have the resources to teach new skills, there may be fewer banks and banks might not offer loans for new technology, and the government might struggle to enforce rules fairly, if at all.

So, the key difference between developing and developed countries is not just about money. It’s about the level of technology people use and the strength of institutions that support and promote the use of technology. Strong institutions are crucial for economic development because they help people access and effectively use new technologies, leading to better jobs, higher incomes, and overall improved living standards.