42. ...But What's The Question?
The Cultural Technology Divide
Humans had an edge from the getgo. We had to. Our kids are horribly weak when they're born, and they have to fumble around for a few years before they're even close to ready to strike out on their own. But that's where the edge comes in. It's not tools -- we were making things work long before the first clovis point or stone hammer. Humanity survived, and prospered using social technologies. Forming groups, trading favors for status, shunning outsiders. These technologies co-existed with the onset of technology, and for a while, even prospered from them; tablets make better record keepers of alliances than brains. Lately though, in our ever more technological world, we face a growing gap between the physical technologies that change our behavior, and the cultural technologies that help us deal with it. This gap is causing all kinds of trouble.
Emergence: Stupid Parts, Smart Whole
You've seen it happen. You've even been a part of it. Every time you drive a car, walk in the city, or play a video game like Everquest, you've caused it to happen. You may not have even noticed it. "It" is emergent behavior, the force behind flocks of birds, swarms of bees, and colonies of bacteria. It could also be the cause of perfect success, or complete failure in your designs.
The Smallest Thing...
Most often, design problems are proportional to the size of the design mistake. A large design error -- like the complex, laborious, and ugly design and engineering of the Aztec truck -- makes for a large performance disappointment. A small design error -- like an unfortunate screw placement in a VCR remote control housing -- might make things inconvenient every once in a while, but mostly they are small issues. However, when designers begin dealing with complex systems with many interrelated parts, a little design decision can lead to the utter failure of the design.
Yes, viral marketing is a great way to get your product known. Write a funny tag line joke, make a great T-Shirt, or put together one of those E-Mails with dancing...whatevers. Viruses, though, are far more tricky than even the most pernicious spam e-mail. And in our ever smaller looking, more globally connected, more globally infectable world, understanding, controlling, and treating viruses, and the people who contract them is going to be an enormous job.
Idea Value VS Remix World
Ever since the invention of the printing press knocked book making from it's high parapet of elitism in king's courts and monasteries, the progress of technology has been bent on freeing information for as many people as will have it. The progression of lithographs, photographs, photo-copies, reel-to-reel audio, VCRs, and now computers, file sharing programs, and media authoring technologies like DVD-burning and CD burning has lead us to an age where anyone can easily twist information into any form they want. We are in the remix culture.
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Dominic Muren and IDFuel Team