Just when you thought that you could safely remove any memory of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it appears that it has a new relevance in understanding the interest and energy around Web 2.0. Dina Mehta neatly summarises Jennifer Rice’s excellent series of articles on Maslow.
What has always interested me about Maslow is that way that each of his defined needs have a compelling, personal story attached. This makes his theory relevant on a behavioural as well as a PERSONAL level — which means we can know the theory and also see its manifestation in our own lives. Moreover, with Maslow, you also get a strong meta-story that overlays the theory. And now, with Web 2.0 that story comes to life again — partly because Web 2.0 actually does have a strong correspondence with our "needs" (let’s reclaim them from Maslow).
When I say that Web 2.0 "humanises" the technology of the Internet, I mean (at least in part) that it adds a dimension of unpredictability into the mix. And this is what attracts us to it. It opens us up to surprise and delight — especially after years of disappointment (the stories about how technology was going to make our lives better). Perhaps the Web 2.0 initiatives that we see now are so exciting because we are starting from a low level of expectation (see Maslow on esteem) — but even still, there is cause for hope (see Maslow on transcendence).
Just goes to show that it is hard to keep a good story down!