We’ve got a lot more in common with our cave-painting ancestors than we might think.
Though we like to feel like we’ve evolved tremendously in the past quarter million years or so, our needs, wants and actions (aside from showering and Tweeting) are fundamentally similar.
We need food, water and shelter. We crave companionship. We seek acceptance from our peers. And we look for ways to make things more convenient when achieving all of the above. Technology – whether it be the advent of the sharpened stick or the proliferation of high-speed Internet – is the chief enabler.
But as more businesses and individuals try to capitalize on technology for economic and social gain, one simple fact is overlooked: technology changes, humans don’t.
In an insightful interview with Wired, Twitter co-founder Ev Williams synthesizes the concept:
“We often think of the internet enables you to do new things. But people just want to do the same things they’ve always done.”
“The internet makes human desires more easily attainable. In other words, it offers convenience. Convenience on the internet is basically achieved by two things: speed, and cognitive ease.”
“Here’s the formula if you want to build a billion-dollar internet company: Take a human desire, preferably one that has been around for a really long time … Identify that desire and use modern technology to take out steps.”
We live in the age of wearable computing, where our eyeglasses are computers, where children are confused by lack of touch-screen technology in paper interfaces and scientists warn us our brains are being altered by our overexposure to technology and we should be alarmed. But really, technology is only making us more efficient for the context of the world we live in.
Though technology is an increasingly integral part of our existence and identity, it’s only an extension of our human-ness, not a deterioration. It’s nothing more than a sharpened spear, allowing us to meet ancient needs more efficiently.