Tools Building Us

First we build the tools, then they build us.

— Marshall McLuhan

"Around here, that's how we do things." I don't know about you, but that line rings real true for me. Take any technology you work with—React, Figma, Webpack, Invision, Bootstrap, what-have-you—and think not about its specific features, but about how it changes the way that you work. How it structures your work; reshapes it. That technology makes many things possible, sure, but it also prevents you from walking down certain unsupported paths. It's a way of doing something.

  • related to linguistic determinism and language forcing a specific way of thinking
  • maybe the broad term would be "tool determinism"?
  • in some settings, even making own tools is common - woodworking, metalsmith (this is relevant to Tools Building Us, and us building the tools)
Szymon Kaliski © 2021