A Case for Homo Narrans - because let's be real - we've never been Sapiens



"Everyone and everything that wasn’t a stupendous badass was dead.”

- Neal Stephenson, Cryptonomicon





I loved this line for all its satisfying logic of "survival of the fittest". It seems so deserving. So just.

But for us, so clangingly WRONG.


Especially now. When alas, even the most magnificently-honed badass can be trumped by a lameass, armed with a more powerful story. Wait, I'm leaping ahead.


Some setup: among living things we are the only obligate tool-using species. We HAVE TO extend and augment our capabilities with technology - or we don't get to live very long. It's not a choice.


​Technology (the knowledge and development of tools and their processes) is so often framed as a threat to our "natural" wellbeing. A newfangled, but necessary burden of modernity.



Thing is, tech is not a sector. A boy's club. The myriad-shiny-haloed-robots-swirling-in-circuitry-numbers-speeding-down-infinite-pipe somethingsomething if you run an image search. Tech is not even a career choice.




For us humans, technology is why we haven't gone extinct. Despite our embarrassingly vulnerable default state.


It is us. Like our resident microbiome, the bacteria with whom we couldn't live long. Nothing is more human than enhancing ourselves by isolating useful features we spot elsewhere, and commandeering its powers for ourselves. What we can't copy, we co-opt like the swashbuckling pirates of the planet that we are.


Other species may have their own speed; armour; poison; wings; camouflage; claws, or massive might to win or outrun a fight. For us, even a beefily-built fellow, tool-less, would be part of the food chain in the twitch of a lion's tail. (Without sensory augmentation (⌐⊙_⊙) honestly, I wouldn't even see it coming).


Instead, we learned to bend the properties of the world to our benefit. And shared the how-to stories widely with each other so we could leave home (even our home-planet), to venture and vanquish. Whenever we feel the squeeze of constraint hemming our ambitions, tools and processes are developed and applied to meet the challenge.


Sometimes all it takes is a costume-change to survive otherwise lethal environments.


We get to pick up, step into, or put on and take off our extra senses or shielding at will. Able to adapt and exploit almost any place. Being perfectly attuned for one kind of ecosystem, means you're stuck in one exquisitely-specialised form. The kind that takes generations to move through the genetic shifts to change function or form. Unlike the tiny, invincible tardigrade, aren't hardy at all. We have a very narrow band where conditions work for us. But augmented by our knowledge, processes and tools (aka tech) nothing scares us off: crushing depths of the ocean, deserts, polar winters, the vacuum of space - bring it, baby! We're up for th