It’s easy to think of our digital revolutions—the desktop computer, the Internet—as purely technological achievements. Cheaper microprocessors let everyone have a PC at home. Internet protocols allowed computers to talk to each other. But that doesn’t capture the reasons these breakthroughs mattered so much to us.
At their core, these were also creative revolutions. The PC didn’t truly touch us until the rise of desktop publishing, followed by the rise of multimedia development tools, followed by the rise of web development tools. Its emotional power arrived with the ability to create amazing things on it. Likewise, the Internet revolution really took off when we used it not just to download facts and figures but as a platform to share music, writing, movies, and pictures. The number one site on the web may be Google, but number two and three are Facebook and YouTube, respectively—both primarily outlets for personal expression.
We created the desktop computer and the Internet as tools for efficiency, productivity, and communication. But they came to have real meaning for us when our natural creative drive took them over.
Now it’s the phone’s turn.