Human Hardware Series on Search Engine Land

I’m kicking off another series in the Just Behave column on Search Engine Land. I’m calling it the Human Hardware series, and it it I’ll be exploring some of the inherent traits of humans and how they affect our online interactions. In the first installment, last Friday, I looked at working memory, channel capacity and satisficing, area I’ve explored in past posts. Here’s a brief excerpt:

As people start to dive into the human genome, it’s somewhat startling to find the lack of diversity in the human gene pool. As different as we all think we are, we actually are alike in many more ways. We share a remarkable similarity in our physiological and neurological make up. Added to this is the fact that there are several inherent traits we all share, the result of thousands of years of evolutionary tweaking. There are absolutely deviations from the norm, but as a quick glance at any bell curve will tell you, for any given trait or characteristic of humanity, including intelligence, loyalty, physical strength or the ability to juggle, most of us cluster around the center line, otherwise known as the norm. It’s the inherent limits of the vehicle we inhabit, our body.

And lest you start feeling too superior, we actually share 98.4% of our genetic material with chimpanzees, our closest evolutionary relative. There is more genetic diversity between two breeds of dogs than there is between us and the average chimp. In fact, apes and chimpanzees are genetically more divergent than chimps and humans. Try wrapping your mind around that one on your next trip to the zoo.

As we start looking at our success in predicting behavior, the peak of the bell curve for our target population is where we have to start. It helps to understand the human hardware issues, which form the foundation of our understanding of predicted behavior. From here, we can tilt our strategies to accommodate diversions in either direction from the norm.

Why is the human gene pool so shallow? It’s because we all come from the same place, a relatively small population of modern humans in Africa, some 150,000 years ago. Recent research has shown that genetic diversity lessens as we get further and further from Africa. And one particularly interesting study speculates that all blue eyed people come from the same common ancestor. Our family tree has remarkably few branches if you go back far enough.

The rest of the column can be read over at Search Engine Land. Next week I’ll be running Part Two, looking at the differences of men and women.

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