The history of technology as a mature specialty within the discipline is young; the important work has taken place in the past few decades. If you’re not an academic, stick with me. This is going to stay firmly-grounded in layman’s terms. One of the important debates in the field has been over the use of an evolutionary model for the history of technology—and that means what you think it does: a model based on evolution, as in Darwinian evolution. For the most part, the model has been rejected, for good reason. The big problem is that the mechanism by which Darwinian evolution works—natural selection by random mutation—is not the mechanism by which the history of technology primarily works—human agency. “Agency” is a good term; we use it to mean power, the ability to exercise decision-making to affect what happens. Evolution may be—I would argue it is—an attractive model for most of the history of technology, given that inventors are usually unknown to us, given that such a complex interplay of external forces comes to bear on the development of a technology, and given all the neat analogies between how evolution works and what we see happen in the history of technology. For example, in evolution, we know of cases in which the same trait has evolved independently across time and space—such as adaptive camouflage. In the history of technology, we know of important examples, such as the dugout canoe, that have been developed independently by different peoples at different times in different places.