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Vol 2 - Issue 4

Technology and Innovation

List of Articles

Technical culture and culture of innovation: a general overview
Marianne Chouteau, Joëlle Forest, Céline Nguyen

Innovation appears to be the best solution to deal with the major contemporary problems facing today’s society, including global warming, an aging population, scarcity of resources, and so on. This special issue is structured in three stages. In a first step, hit reviews the history of the concepts of technical culture and innovation culture and their diffusion in society. The second part illustrates these concepts through the history of particular objects, that of cycling and digital technology. The last part of this issue focuses on action and on the one hand presents the culture of innovation in
organizations and, on the other hand, technical culture as a training challenge.

A brief history of European technical culture and its relationship to innovation
Anne-Françoise Garçon

All technical culture consists of language elements, vocabulary and / or “technolecte”, and a plethora of social practices that define a technical habitus. Each trade and profession has its own technical culture. The forms differ from one another according to the three major systems of appropriation of the techniques on which each trade is founded upon: orality and technical symbolism for the pragmatic system, technical treatise and mathematical symbolism for the technical system, computer-assistance and systemic analysis for the technological system. Historically, the objectivization of the notion of progress, although present in the pragmatic system, took place in the sixteenth century when the technical system became the predominant pattern. But without leading to a culture of innovation which appeared in Europe only at the end of the nineteenth century, with the second industrialization, and built on the basis of the “dashboard culture”; (O. Barfield), shared by all professions, a blend of scientistic and progressive ideology, which founded co-activity in industrial societies.

When culture of innovation hides technical culture
Marianne Chouteau, Joëlle Forest, Céline Nguyen

Although we live in a digital and artificial society, a technical culture is not a subject of everyday life or of political debate. We usually hear about scientific culture and literary culture but rarely about technical culture and we deplore it. Why is it so difficult to acknowledge this culture ? This paper tries to find the reasons for those difficulties and argues that the culture of innovation actually hides the technical culture.

What made the bicycle, and what it has changed in France (1816‐2016)
Yves-Claude Lequin

In 1817, in the wake of Europe’s revolutions, the bicycle was created in Northern Europe, born out of a desire for speed and the effort to "save time". Made first of wood and propelled by the cyclist’s feet, it underwent a century of development before it began to look like the bicycles we use today, on rural or urban roads that have themselves been transformed, for uses that vary widely from one country to another, and by an increasingly diverse range of users. It required learning (balance), mastering (cultural) and accommodation (vertigo). Its evolution often involved conflict, such
as that between Proust’s fascination for cycling girls and the anti-feminist vehemence of the traditionalists. Widely adopted in working-class neighborhoods, the bicycle nearly disappeared through competition from motor vehicles during the 1960s, before being reborn today and continuing to transform itself for new purposes… in competition with the car.

Technological culture and the contemporary world
Bruno Jacomy

This contribution seeks to show the importance of technical culture at a time when digital technology is part of our daily habits. It starts from the observation that technology and innovation do not have a sufficient place in our contemporary culture, and in particular in the training of technicians and engineers. To overcome this deficiency, the author suggests a method of analysis based on the technical objects and the crossing of two complementary dimensions: that of the evolution of the objects themselves and that of the place of innovation in the long period of history. The few
examples proposed are intended to illustrate this innovation in the making and the ways to enrich it.

Innovation culture in French organizations
Muriel Davies, Stéphanie Buisine

From a macroeconomic point of view, there is a consensus that innovation must be developed. In France, organizations focus their innovation efforts mainly on research and development, while other strategies are more effective. A reason might be that innovation indicators and incentives deal with investment rather than performance. Recently, in France, innovation was planned to be developed through culture. We propose here an organizational innovation culture model, structured around five dimensions. The first three dimensions refer to innovative people: managers, teams and individuals. The others are more philosophical: on one hand, a favourable organizational context,
and on the other, multiple and simple relationships with the environment. Depending on its culture, an organization can integrate state discourse around innovation differently: as the statement of an integrated organizational value, as a vital constraint, or as a paradoxical injunction.

Technical culture and innovation culture: this tandem reconcile through design
John Didier

This paper questions the relationship between technical culture and innovation culture in order to return to the central role of the design activity in the context of educational training. Simondon’s [SIM 89] statement about the exclusion of technology in a cultural dimension stresses upon the fascination of technical objects in everyday life. The technical culture, misunderstood and excluded from culture itself, provokes a deficiency that is manifested by a lack of its teaching in our training systems. Innovation culture refers back to our industrial and post-industrial cultures that lead us to
an obstinate search for novelty through this creative destruction that pushes for obsolescence in order to ensure the advent of the new. The search for novelty thus takes two characteristic forms: radical (older) innovation and more recent, more widespread, ephemeral, which is easier to manipulate, more appealing and has a short term incremental innovation that characterizes a trend of late modernity. To overcome this double impasse: the absence of a technical culture from
training programs and a culture of innovation reduced to an incremental innovation, characterized by a frenzy of short term change, we propose the implementation of a didactic of design, that has the potential to reconcile the technical culture and the innovation culture. Thus, this article focuses on the effects of design activity in the production of technical objects in the context of training and in the educational context.