The human body. Such a marvel of engineering. We can do amazing stuff with this machine, things that are many times EXTREMELY difficult to mimic with any machine. If you only consider using the body as a physical tool we are amazing when it comes to detailed movement and interaction, walking upright och playing basketball. And that would probably be classified as the easy stuff.
But the body also has it’s limitations. Seemingly simple tasks like cutting a metal wire fall outside our capabilities. Or DID, I should say, because we have now evolved to a stage where we can easily cut metal wires, even if this part of the evolution happened outside our bodies. But if you look at technology this way, a Leatherman Wave or any other piece of technology is most definitely part of human evolution, and therefore part of the modern man (or woman). Just like a modern programming language, nature has just abstracted evolution to let late stage of evolution the Leatherman Wave build upon an earlier stage – the human intellect.
In our everyday life we rarely reflect over separation between technology and man. If somebody told you to build a freeway, you would instinctively build it for man the way man is today. Including late stage evolution such as motorbikes. You wouldn’t build a freeway to be used on foot at speeds around 20km/h would you?
Still we do this all the time when it comes to creating communication and designing web sites. We do it for what man was 20 years ago. Not the way man is today. 20 years ago, web search engines did not exist in the life of ordinary people. Google did not exist. SEO was unheard of.
Just like with the body, the human mind is extraordinary when it does what it does best – in the case of the mind, this is stuff like interpretation, emotion and flexibility. But it is extraordinarily bad when it comes to massive memory storage and running algorithms. And since the web filled the memory void (with MASSIVE MASSIVE memory storage), we desperately need powerful algorithm processing to sort and search through all this massive information. The master of the search algorithm at the moment is Google. And just like in the case of the motorcycle or the Leatherman Wave, Google is part of man (or woman). It’s not a separate entity of it’s own with it’s own purpose or origin. It’s made by man for man, not in symbiosis, but in integration. Google is part of humanity.
It’s time for us to do what we do when designing freeways, to start designing for man the way man is today. Not the way man was 20 years ago. The world is no longer a smörgåsbord where we have preselected information layed out in a beautiful art directed magazine spreads, but a world with vast seas of interrelated data, impossible to navigate for a lone human mind. In this world, powerful algorithm processor extensions of our mind are absolutely necessary for us to be able to navigate. Human beings are flexible, and quickly pick up on these extensions of course. We use Google without thinking twice about it. It’s time for us communicators to do the same when communicating with these people.
Designing for man the way man is today should be, has to be, and will be as natural as brushing your teeth. With a toothbrush that is.
This blog is written by Walter Naeslund and has been around since 2007. The blog is about the journey of starting an advertising agency and a sneak peek behind the scenes of what goes on at the Honesty HQ in SoFo, Södermalm. It is also a blog about communication & technology. The blog has gathered almost a thousand posts over the years with several longer and shorter breaks. Welcome and enjoy.