In genetics they talk of the "phenotype". This is any observable characteristic or trait of an organism including its form and structure, development, behaviour, and even products of behaviour such as a bird's nest.
An unusual property of humans (compared with other organisms) is language, since for the first time information about long-term survival can be passed by other means than genes. This has led to the creation of the subject of 'memes', as analogous to genes, as carriers of information in human society.
Memes have allowed humans to create buildings, cities, and to fly like gods through the sky, albeit often in rather cramped surroundings with terrible food.
And to create computers.
So should we regard computers as part of the phenotype of humans? And if so, should we care?
Steven Pemberton is a researcher at the CWI, the Dutch National Research Centre for Mathematics and Computer Science
in Amsterdam the Netherlands. His research is in interaction, and how the underlying software architecture can support the user. He has been involved with the Web since the beginning, organising workshops at the first Web Conference in 1994 at CERN, and for more than a decade he has been involved at W3C designing technologies for the World Wide Web, such as HTML, XHTML, CSS, XForms, RDFa, and several others. He has been involved with Human Computer Interaction for just as long, and was a member of the executive committe of SIGCHI for a decade; he chaired a CHI conference in 1997, and was editor in chief of ACM Interactions. He was awarded the ACM SIGCHI Lifetime Service award in 2009.