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Jack Dorsey: Technology like Twitter makes us more human

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Square's Jack Dorsey at GigaOM RoadMapIn the super-connected world in which we live now, people often lament about the downfall of old-fashioned face-to-face interaction. But according to Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter and Square, when technology is really done right it should actually allow us to be more human, not less.

“I firmly believe that the more understanding we embrace… with technology, we have more empathy,” Dorsey said in an onstage conversation with Om Malik at the GigaOM RoadMap conference held in San Francisco Thursday. Reading Twitter streams that detail the day-to-day habits of our contacts is an example of this, he said. “We can minimize conflict because you have an understanding of where people are coming from.”

Though the prevalence of mobile devices connected to the web has led people to spend much more time staring at screens, Dorsey said the real victory of the companies he is involved with is that they can actually encourage real human interactions. He put it like this:

“Both [Twitter and Square] are great at encouraging more face-to-face human interactions… I believe strongly that this information and these tools help us be better, but we need to be sure as builders of tools that it’s not overwhelming, that it’s meaningful, and that it’s not distracting. That it’s not something that puts technology first; it puts humans first. And the humans’ use of the technology first.”

That is by no means an easy task, though. In a world where more and more new features become possible every day, one of the biggest challenges for tech entrepreneurs will be staying focused. “Simplification is number one. Working really hard to get something down to an essence is one of the hardest things to do,” he said. But it’s also important to keep a sense of humor through it all. “Making things fun is a big thing as well. We’re in a very serious industry, and we’re in a very serious time. We have to remember to relax, and have some whimsy in your applications.”

Photo by Pinar Ozger.

5 Responses to “Jack Dorsey: Technology like Twitter makes us more human”

  1. Chris Talbott

    Technologies are what I call “amoral exaggerators.” They increase both the positive and negative aspects of human nature. The idea that the latest new technology will change human nature in a positive direction resurfaces with every new technology (see phonograph, telephone, radio, television). This has *always* turned out to be wrong, in the sense that both good & bad emerge. True wisdom comes from developing the ability to pay attention to & understand how we process our experience. The newest technologies (Twitter, Facebook) seem to foster distraction from understanding our experience. I do not understand how they can be net positive; I can easily see how they can be net negative.

  2. I love your article! How true that touching humanity is a key requirement in life – technology is useful, but it can never replace compassion, love, and something as fundamental to life as them embrace. We here at Inspiration Engine know that emotion is part of that humanity – and whimsy triggers emotion :) Elena Newton, President, Inspiration Engine, LLC