The Human Need to Share Information

Since the earliest days of recorded history, humankind has proven its critical need for social interaction. The key component of any interaction is the ability to express or communicate an idea, an emotion, or valuable information from one person (or group) to another person (or group). As a long-term form of communication, recorded history—information that is saved and passed along over time—demonstrates that in our earliest evolutionary form, humans have always sought to express something, whether through cave drawings, basic shapes and symbols, music, or buildings. For example, the shape, size, color, and placement of ancient Egyptian pyramids communicated messages about the people’s beliefs on creation, the sun’s light, and the afterlife. Similarly, tribal rhythmic drumming is known to convey several messages to the tribe membership and their enemies alike. Even clothing sends clear messages, as did the Jewish phylacteries (tefillin), small leather boxes worn on the forehead of orthodox Jews during prayers on specific days of the week, a biblical practice that continues today.

Figure 1.1: From left to right: the pyramids at Giza, Egypt; a Lenke wood djembe from Mali; and a Jewish man praying with a tefillin.

Photo 1 by Ricardo Liberato, June 19, 2006, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons; Photo 2 by Djembe Art, June 30, 2005, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons; Photo 3 by Yavlemmer, July 27, 2006, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Sharing information is only part of the human need for communication. The innate desire to learn and create is another. This thirst for knowledge has led to innovative learning practices, such as language development, writing, and reading. Humans have long sought to understand the writing of others on ancient parchment or carved as hieroglyphics. This seeking led to deeper study—and sharing what one had learned with others. Ancient peoples used symbols to communicate in drawings or characters, and this practice continues today with the use of graffiti, emoticons, and other imagery. For instance, the peace symbol is universally known to convey an anti-war ideology, the thumbs-up sign signifies agreement, and the cross is a universal symbol of Christianity.

As humans have evolved, so has our ability to communicate through various advances in technology. Yet even with these innovations, the basic principles of sharing information have remained constant. There are always senders and receivers.

Figure 1.2: From left to right: the peace symbol, the thumbs-up sign, and the cross.

Photo 2 by Wuyouyuan, March 19, 2009, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons; Photo 3 by Lawrence Ruiz, March 10, 2019, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.