As mentioned as well during his Ted talk, Jan Chipchase touched upon the three essential items we cannot leave home without — phone, keys, and money — in chapter 4 of Hidden in Plain Sight. In fact, these three items are universal simply because they concern our survival, as well as the fact that they fulfil our primal needs.
He also mentioned that the reason why people cannot live without these three items has been the basis for those who are trying to imagine and build the next wave of products. Why is that so? I think this relates well back to the point he touched upon during his talk, that the only way people can never forget, is if they have nothing to remember in the first place. I feel that these designers who are trying to reinvent the essential items in our lives could very well be trying to design a product which could take over and replace all three of these essential items, to create a reliance and dependence on their own jackpot product so that there is no need for other products, and no place for them as well.
However, is such a dependence or reliance good for us in the long run? It is now 2017, and we have become an even more connected world from the one Jan Chipchase was in when he wrote this book. We now have mobile phones which connects us to the internet, and allow us to search for information and directions no matter where we are. Coupled with the ever-improving artificial intelligence, we are, unknowingly depending even more and more on products and technologies to help us do the things we are unable to do, or to help us make decisions when we were fully capable of doing so. Don’t mind me, I am not trying to oppose to the advance of technology, especially not when I am a beneficiary of it as well. This connectivity is undeniably a double-edged sword, from the recent Trump election and the widespread of fake news, to coverage on social media in war-zone countries, and acts of kindness from strangers all over the world. However, one can’t help but wonder if it is really wise to lose the ability to think for ourselves. We hide this all behind improving productivity and efficiency, so that we have more time to spend on things that are really worth it. But who is to deem what is worth our time?
Therefore I particularly agree with Jan Chipchase who said this in the final paragraph of the chapter, “We’re very fortunate to live in a world where we can go almost anywhere… with tremendously powerful tools for communication and information that fit inside our pockets and bags. They are our tools for survival, but it’s important to remember that both our tools and our ideas about what “survival” means are constantly evolving. The more we come to understand the latter, the better equipped we’ll be to harness technology and create tools that really matter.”