The famous Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs has been used for decades to explain the physiological and psychological needs of humans. It helps clarify what motivates our species, and in what order those drivers will generally get our attention. (Quick factoid: Maslow never displayed his findings as a tringle, that was added later by others and became the de facto method of illustration)
The above illustration was inspired by yesterday’s news around Facebook. Essentially what the social networking giant did was make a small tweak in everyone’s profile. Instead of displaying the email address we had all designated as our primary contact, Facebook changed everyone’s default to a “@Facebook.com” address. This move was likely meant to be a subtle way to encourage people to use Facebook more often as an electronic messaging service, but the augmentation led to a flurry of unhappy users who took notice very quickly. Ultimately the topic began to trend in social media and spurred several posts by prominent writers.
Controversy aside, the situation itself made me think about what drives our motivations and opinions solely on the internet. The Facebook scenario seems to violate the 2nd level of my newly created hierarchy which is stability. Facebook does this quite often, but I believe that because email is such a central component of our internet experience, manipulating anything that has to do with it touches a very sensitive nerve among internet users.
The other four sections of the above hierarchy have been organized based on their priority. Much like Maslow’s top rung of self-actualization, I would argue that a completely editable internet is our current pinnacle of needs. This would encompass customizing how and where we consume information, writing code to manipulate what others have already built, and editing how we interact with devices by adding connectivity to them (internet of things).
Certainly we’re not far away from transcending this hierarchy, but for now I hope this diagram helps organize our thinking around the internet ecosystem.