Many of our decisions are based on a simple, hard-to-understand piece of technology. We’ve all been here before. In fact, we’ve all been here before. No matter how many times we’ve made our first decisions, we still need to decide how best to proceed in this life.
Today we have the benefit of hindsight, which allows us to observe our life and decide the best course of action. But when we make decisions in the past, we frequently do so according to a rigid process. For example, when we decide on what kind of car to buy, we are guided through a process that can take weeks, months, or years to complete.
By contrast, today we can ask, “How do I buy a car?” We can ask, “What kind of car should I buy?” We can ask, “Do I want a car with air conditioning?” We can ask, “What else do I need?” The only thing we need to do is follow our own process.
The process of buying a car is similar. There is no such thing as “choosing the right car.” It is all about following a process that may take months, years, or decades.
When we buy a car, we are, by definition, choosing a vehicle. However, the process of choosing a vehicle also involves understanding what kind of car we’re looking for. Our process to buy a car is to examine a list of cars for a specific location. For example, we might examine a list of cars in the city, a list of cars in the suburbs, and a list of cars that are located in our neighborhood.
We might even examine a “generic” list to see what kind of cars are available in a specific area (for example, we might check out a list of cars that are in the New York City area, a list of cars that are in the Washington, D.C. District, and so on). In this way, we can become better informed about what cars are available based on our location, which can play a large role in our decision as well as our buying process.
This idea of getting a better sense of what kind of cars are available in a target area is called “process technology.” The idea is that, like a GPS, process technology allows us to have knowledge that is not based on the raw location data. Instead, it takes knowledge of the people, neighborhoods, and facilities that can inform our decisions.
The idea here is to get to know more people in a specific area than we know about in a whole host of other locations. This has an effect on the way we feel about the things we are buying in our market. It’s often hard to say how much more information is available, and we usually tend to find out about other locations, but I think we do at least get to know some of the people at a certain time.
In the early 2000s, one of the most popular retail spaces in New York City was the Fifth Avenue Market. I’m not sure exactly why, but the Fifth Avenue Market felt more like a neighborhood than a neighborhood, and it’s always felt that way. So the idea that we can understand more about the people and places we live in is something people often do.
It’s not entirely true, but it’s something. Many of our everyday routines are things we can never fully understand, but we can understand more about the people who live around us, and about the people and places we can never fully understand.