Compressing space and time. The purpose of all technology.

The underlying purpose of all technology is to compress space and time. A seemingly obvious concept brought to my attention while reading The Seventh Sense by Joshua Cooper Ramo. I’ve always enjoyed the feeling of “well, no duh” that comes from a well thought statement. Technology is in essence a way for us to shorten distances between two points.

Swimming across an ocean? Nearly impossible with just the human body, and it would take an enormous length of time. Build a ship, and now we have compressed the time it takes to travel from one continent to another.

Want to send a message to a distant family member? Write symbols onto a physical piece of parchment, strap it onto an animal, and hopefully it will arrive at your family’s doorstep within a few months. Or, thanks to the power of networks and electricity, type some words on a screen and click send. Milliseconds later your family receives the message.

Compressing distance and time is the fundamental purpose behind all innovation and technology. In a technologically pervaded world, those among us seeking ways to compress time and distance are likely to succeed. This is the mindset of entrepreneurs, innovators, and artists.

Artists? Yes even an artist is compressing space and time through their piece of art. In one painting, picture, video, etc. an artist is transporting you emotionally to a rare place you may not have discovered otherwise. Evoking emotions through art is its own form of teleportation.

While the idea of technology compressing space and time is by no means revolutionary, I find it to be a useful tool for focusing one’s mindset. Keeping our eyes out for opportunities to compress time allows us to spend less time on the unnecessary and more time on living life.

Time is after all the most precious resource.