Blog Post

How Humans Evolved from the Internet


I am fascinated by how, in the course of a decade, all that dreary sociobiology that had us blindly, irrationally descended from brutish animals that didn't like one another very much (especially chimps) has turned around and now, it seems, we have evolved precisely because our ancestors, 10,000 years ago, were exceptionally good at banding together, sharing their knowledge, and working on solutions to complex problems.   This social instinct is what, it appears, eventually got us to the moon and beyond.  It is what makes us great.  It is what make us human.  


Before the World Wide Web existed, you would have been considered a bit mushy to think that empathy, social networking, and a desire for community and contact would be the prime movers of human evolution.   Aggression, dominance, control:  those were the prime movers of the human species.  


In "Supremacy of a Social Network," an article by Nicholas Wade in the March 14, 2011, New York Times, we are given many examples of how humans have evolved, not to put too fine a point on it, from the Internet and the World Wide Web.   No surprise.  When the steam engine, the piston, and the assembly line were the power metaphors of the age, human evolution looked a bit linear and orderly, always with a kind of evolutionary foreman on top, making sure his genes survived into the next generation.   Now that the Internet and the World Wide Web are the dominant mechanistic metaphors of our age, it's fascinating to see the metaphors of evolution being reshaped nearly every day. 


To read the Times article:


1 comment

Six Degrees of Separation was a movie of almost 20 years ago! Networking was long established way before it got accelerated on the net, and loose vs. stonger links have a much, much longer history than Michael Gladwell's been writing about it. Think not that everything is always new, 'cause oft times it's just recycled.

For that matter, far more significant than the internet was the birth control pill, which made the sexes far more equal than any other animal ever managed; and, while it is probably coincidental that both the pill and the net happened in the same century, their coincidence made networking both feasible and inevitable.