The Internet Hierarchy of Needs

Please visit VortexDna (The Internets Hierarchy of Needs) to check out their adaptation of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for the internet user. It’s a great starting point for coming face to face with what all this internet saturation means for personal fulfillment.'s%20Hierarchy%20of%20Needs

Ultra%20Fat%20Man%20Sitting%20At%20The%20Computer%20@%20snaps.lumra.comI immediately thought of a friend of mine who doesn’t really ‘get along’ with the internet. Her use of the internet is limited to finding directions, research, and occasionally reading the NYtimes. When she strays beyond these info boundaries, she’s assaulted by unpredictable websites, strange internet social behaviors, and lots of ‘weird things.’ The internet is more of a social vacuum to her… she would laugh at me if I explained Hugh Macleod’s sense of a ‘social object.’

So how can my friend ever use the internet as “frictionless tool for personal growth and fulfillment” ???

Maybe there’s another way we can think about it. I think it’s kinda like joining the YMCA. If your only experience with the YMCA is that exuberant song–or you actually think it’s the Young Men’s Christian Association, you might be anxious about joining such a community. Why join a gym to interact with strangers if you can just self-actualize without it? The stigma of ‘internet people’ and the expansive social protocols in online communities can be intimidating.


Take Second Life, for example. Give anyone a tour of even the most modest areas of Second Life and you’re going to lose a friend. Newt Gingrich held a press conference in Second Life, but I’m sure he was all weirded out with the ordeal. I’m sure he had a secretary digitally gesticulate for him while he awkwardly held a mic.

These feelings we have about internet communities are responsible for drawing lines between Facebook, Myspace, and Xanga. If all you know about social networks is Facebook, Xanga is a joke, and Myspace is an aborted fetus of social interaction.

Back to my friend… the only way to show how community on the internet is beneficial is to point to the great successes of the social web: We’ve got a massive encyclopedia (Wikipedia) to call our own, some semblence of political organization with the help of groups like,, and (+ weak groups on Facebook). These orgs are just as social as blinking noisy myspace… they’re just productive.

2 thoughts on “The Internet Hierarchy of Needs

  1. You probably picked the wrong example with Newt Gingrich, who seemed to understand the potential of virtual worlds as network-mediated meeting spaces, definitely in an early experimental stage, but evolving. You’ll see from and that Gingrich controlled his own avatar, and capably interacted with an audience of attendees of diverse political persuasions from around the world.

    Like Wikipedia, Second Life is created by its users, though I have heard it said that about 2% of Wikipedia users contribute to Wikipedia while about 60% of active Second Life users build and contribute to the virtual world. It is as a creative social platform that I consider it a more frictionless tool for personal growth and fulfillment.


  2. What a great post! And not just because you refer to the Internet Hierarchy of Needs 😉 No, I think you go one better — The IHN model describes the web infrastructure that needs to be in place in order for the tool to be effective, but you’re looking at the experiences people need to have in their evolution towards learning the tool. You can’t expect your Grandma to log on for the first time to ANY web — semantic or otherwise — and use it to its maximum advantage.

    It’s a great perspective, and well worth exploring further.

    Best regards,
    Kaila Colbin


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