Accounting is a technology that accompanied the creation of writing, and counting changed when “we” decided accurate records we needed. Whereas many cultures with primary orality do not differentiate numbers (many unwritten languages quantify using words for “one,” “two,” and “many”). Accounting necessitated accurate calculation of numbers including decimal places. The familiar base 10 and infinite counting system that is so familiar, and the technologies used to cipher within that system are a relatively recent invention.

an algorithm for finding sums
Figure 1. An algorithm for finding sums that is an example of a technology

The familiar algorithm taught to school children for generations (see figure 1) is an example of a technology that became necessary only when that counting system, along with precise answers, gained acceptance. As a deeply embedded part of the school experience, many assume it is a necessary skill, but it can be interpreted as a skill necessitated only by the invention of large number systems and the social need to accurately find sums. We also fail, in many cases, to recognize this as a technology and its use can be criticized in the same way the use of digital calculators was criticized previously.