Coincidence is funny. I actually started writing this post a week ago, so today’s XKCD was extremely appropriate.
Great comic artists (like Bill Watterson and Zach Weiner, to name some of my favorites) have the ability to poignantly capture Truth in a few pictures and words. Randall Monroe does just that, noting that as often as we convince ourselves otherwise, humans continue to fundamentally stay the same, regardless of the technology at our fingertips.
Just look at successful technologies with a broad lens and you will see that in one way or another, they just make it easier for us to devote ourselves to the unchanging human themes. Some great technology reduces the time we need to waste on things we are comparatively bad at (and generally don’t enjoy) – repetitive tasks and physical labor. Other technologies just make it easier to accomplish what we do like – telling and hearing stories, for example.
I see so many new apps and products that ask people to fundamentally change how they do fundamentally human things, or devote extra brain bandwidth. They might be a fad for a bit, but they are ultimately doomed. Nobody can fight their nature forever.
‘Good’ technology doesn’t try to change human nature or require us to contort ourselves to use it. It should free us from the things we do badly, and making it smoother to do what we do best and enjoy doing the most. Storytelling, exploring, imagining, interacting with others – these are themes of humanity that are repeated unchangingly over and over again.