Lift11: Ben Hammersley, Post-digital geopolitics

[fr] Notes de la conférence Lift11 à Genève.

Live and India-lagged notes from the Lift11 Conference in Geneva. Might contain errors and personal opinions. Use the comments if you spot nasty errors. Note: no kilt today.

Twenty-first year of the WWW. Bizarre situation we have now: splitting of generations. steph-note: speaker tip, do what Ben does — pause in between your sentences :-)

Mubarak had the same look on his face than Swiss industrials who’ve just discovered the Internet, or a newspaper which has just gone bankrupt. Interesting: psychological effects, particularly amongst the group of people who are running the world, people around the age of 50 or 60, who are supposed to be creating the future, but who are already so confused by the present.

What defines a country is distance (“in the beginning was distance”). We’re “us” because we’re here, and they are “them” because they’re over here. All the rest (language, religion, culture) develops purely because of distance. Distance defined us.

Society is structured through vertical distance. He’s up there, I’m down here. Hierarchical society. We know where we are, who is above, who is below. Freud gave us an explanation and a toolkit (steph-note: worth what it’s worth). Dominant intellectual framework for the industrial age.

We judge ourselves by numbers which represent fictions (ie, popularity on Twitter). We have the wrong cognitive toolkits, in the 21st century. We used to know who the ennemies were, where we stood in society and business. Networks mess that up — initially just for nerds and geeks, but after that for more and more people.

Death of distance (steph-note: what I’ve been preaching for years regarding multilingualism online — e.g. the boundaries today are linguistic, and not country/geographic)

=> Diaspora. Many new forms of countries — culture, interests, principles… they all collate online. Stronger interests and links with people who are geographically distance than with our neighbours. => interesting situations! Mailing-lists with guns, for example. steph-note: literally? Very difficult to shoot a hashtag.

Older generation brought up in a world of hierarchy (pyramids), and the younger generation a world of networks (sheets), and us in the middle. And the young ones don’t understand hierarchy, and the older ones don’t understand how a network works. “Shoot the leader and everything else will go away!”

Don’t understand that they don’t understand how to understand this stuff. They lack the intellectual framework on which to base this new form of thinking. steph-note: did anybody say “culture shock”? Another of my incessant choruses… ;-) — exactly what many people from the West are faced with when trying to “get” India.

Explain, don’t complain. The reason communication breaks down over these matters is people lack the cognitive toolkit for the discussion. Our primary problem is not to encourage innovation, it’s to translate steph-note: amen — and exactly how I view my work.

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