Conventional wisdom tells us that we design technological artifacts in response to perceived needs; that is, needs drive technology. The formidable Don Norman recently wrote a web article suggesting that, contrary to convention, technology can drive needs. Norman’s article caused quite a fuss in the design research community, in which only some agreed with his novel perspective.
I don’t see the benefit of arguing one way or the other; it’s on par with trying to decide which side of a coin came first, the head or the tail of it. I think a better way to view it is as an infinitely looping process whereby designers adjust reality to balance our needs with respect to a number of other forces, one of which is technological change.