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The Devil is in the Details

This chapter focuses on the kind of invention processes that arise in the behavioral context of “complex technological systems” (CTS). I define CTS as any technology that consists of a set of interacting artifacts; interactions among these artifacts – and people and sometimes environmental phenomena – enable that system to function. Because the archaeologist has wide latitude in interpreting the terms of this definition and because technological complexity is ostensibly a continuum (e.g., Oswalt 1976), the determination of whether a specific technology constitutes a CTS is necessarily driven by the archaeologist’s research problem. Given the flexibility of this definition, one can expect to discern CTSs in diverse – even small-scale – societies (see “Operationalizing the Cascade Model on Archaeological Cases”).

This chapter has five major sections: (1) general considerations concerning CTS-related invention processes, (2) elaboration of the cascade model, (3) illustration of the model with the development of the nineteenth-century electromagnetic telegraph, (4) discussion of the model’s applicability to small-scale societies, and (5) enumeration of the model’s broadest implications for studying technological change.

Keywords

Technological Change Invention Process Inventive Activity Cascade Model Technological Object 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

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