The Internet, the magic wand

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Since some years ago, the Internet has had a leading role in the world. Going beyond post-modernity, the largest businesses in the stock markets are more like Google than classic companies. Now we need to think about how we will use Internet, with which contents and with which tools. The Internet is in cell-phones, computers and on TV sets. People use Twitter or Facebook to communicate; it is the space on the net where classic administrative obstacles disappear. Using social networks help people to communicate, putting an end to the idea that the Internet isolates people. It will fight the sclerotic prevention of those who deny the net’s value as a human relationship engine,  a business tool and a knowledge transfer facilitator. A good cell-phone with data connection is the best gift for an entrepreneur, for a student, for everybody. It will put the world in their hands.

In Catalonia, we know how to make use out of the Internet. We have some examples that deserve special attention: The Catalan Parliament has been one of the most interesting examples of web-politics during last year, as MPs could interact with citizens through the net. The Catalan language’s presence in Wikipedia is one of the most valued in the whole net for quality of contributions. And the blog community is very active as the ‘Premis Bloc Catalunya’ (Catonia Blog Awards) shows, from schools to businesses to media.

The challenge is to shape companies facing the crisis. Compared with Microsoft or Intel, which were already pioneers in their moment, Google shows us that the difference is working with a product that is raw information, with categories and search models of this information. We are now in the third generation of ICT companies. However we should not call them ICT anymore, as they more than just technology; they work with knowledge. This is an essential difference. How we work with the intangible is the challenge. As for the crisis, as it has already been said on previous occasions, it has an emotional component. Depression is not only economic. This relates to how those who are successful are so successful, because they have changed social and business organisation procedures. The era when emotion is the exchangeable good has arrived. Cultural groups feed themselves with the contents that group them together and the net is the lab.

From the anthropology field, it is interesting to underline that virtual relations mirror real relations. But they also have their own strategies, which are new and change very fast. Technology allows us to improve order and use; it allows us to define digital identity. A book was a much more valuable object when it incorporated an index. Maybe we are not able to keep in contact with 150 friends in real life, but on the net it is possible if you have them organised with labels, types of relations, common interests, or frequency of contacting them. So this is it. In reality, your degree of interaction with people  is much more important; the way you contact them is irrelevant. For this reason, the number of friends on the net does not matter, but rather the consequences of the relations people have. A click, the butterfly effect.

 

Trina Milán

Anthropologist and President of the Stic.Cat Association

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