In human evolution all the way back to when Lucy stood up on the Savanna of Africa, to be confronted by a pair of hands, it has not been the size increase of brain gray-matter giving rise to higher intellect, but the opposite. The growth of the human mind was to keep up with the new realities the hands were creating.
As evolution continued past mimicry and mastery, at some point seeing motion as pray or food, had to give way to the question on “What is the intent of the motion? WHY is it moving that way?” Combine the WHAT and HOW of mastery of skill, together with WHY and what you get is Art, Dance, Myth and Story.
Humans are not unique to creative expression and adorning themselves with symbols to attract a mate and at the same time signal to others what group they belong to. This is the heart of graphic design, product positioning, brand loyalty and personal brand expression.
Look at the 13,000-year-old Clovis Arrowhead point found in Utah. It’s the most highly refined example of stone tool craftsmanship ever found. What makes it so unique as a status symbol? It has long perfectly uniform flaking, the shape is absolutely symmetrical and best of all is its thinness and light weight. The metric of status for a stone tool is in how the weight of one’s tool is subtracted from the weight of the game a hunter can carry back to the tribe. Look at the thinness of the iPhone as judged by thinness and tell me we aren’t the same people.
Dominance hierarchies are everywhere. They used to be only a few hundred people but now with the Internet they’ve been atomized into the either of social isolation. People desperately want to adorn themselves with symbols that tie us together. Even the language of the Valley Girl was not an indication of stupid, but a form of dialect that allowed smart girls to recognize each other. This is what great design is for. But how do we use is for the greater good?
Capitalism is colonization or an economic model that rewards exploitation, digging stuff out of the earth for free and adding social symbols to it so people will buy it. Andy Warhol when asked about his Coke Bottle piece said, “What’s great about America is the richest people buy and use the same products as the poorest.”
Using design to change civilization for the better should start with the premise where consumers reward companies for putting things back in the earth. Companies that take a leadership role in restoration, preservation and promoting diversity need to have brand messaging that allows people to participate in this change by adorning themselves with like-minded symbols.
Drag Queens are doing a better job of this today than most of the corporations combined. They surround themselves with highly unique resonate symbols and stand in that pageantry to offer great gifts of kindness, inclusion, diversity and acceptance.
Our culture is filled with the same old WHAT and HOW having excused women not from equal pay but from equal influence. I believe women, or a more feminine essence is the carrier of the WHY. So how do we all open ourselves to be judged for who we think we are, standing there in our own Peacocking feathers to be challenged by WHY?
So if we want to find out where the evolution of the human experience is heading, it’s not about getting the best and the brightest together to figure it out. It’s about creating open platforms that have in them a mechanism based on discovery. We have to build systems that don’t look like a startup company based on revenue growth but a system that looks more like and electric utility where everyone has equal access, everyone is common customer and the system is designed for stable reliable interconnection to allow us all to thrive together.
If you liked this story, look here for my book HEART IN GEAR, An Engineer’s Erotic Journey to Freedom