The new ecosystem of the Internet between inclusion and exclusion

The progressive diffusion of new means of communication, with a high rate of technological innovation, is upsetting social and political architectures, favoring the affirmation of a new mode of economic production entirely based on possession, processing capacity and the diffusion of knowledge. The so-called knowledge society/economyprogressively replacing material resources with intangible ones, it defines new forms of social exchange and new social asymmetries that Politics, increasingly scaled down to the level of practice by economics and finance, no longer seems to be able to manage.

The intrinsic dynamism that ensued from it had as its first consequence a process of unequal development (globalization) which took the form of new forms of interdependence on the global impact that reflective knowledge makes (self) evident. Globalization itself, in our view, has never revealed itself as a moment of fracture – concept of postmodernity (Lash, 1990; Kumar,1995; Inglehart,1996; Bauman,2000) – compared to the so-called early modernity; on the contrary, it has constantly maintained all the contradictions typical of the modern, extending them on a global scale and radicalising their effects (think also of the concept of hypermodernity, alternative to that of postmodernity). The global knowledge economy continues to maintain within it two thrusts (Dominici 1998, 2003, 2005), already present in the modern, which face each other dialectically in the open field: on the one hand the economic and technological interdependence (and interconnection), on the other, social, political and cultural fragmentation. At the basis of these dynamics there is, in any case, the well-known awareness of crisis of thought no longer able to provide problem models and acceptable solutions (Kuhn). Reflexive modernization is profoundly marked by this assumption of inadequacy of the old paradigms and old cognitive schemes, as well as by the awareness that the strategies and possible solutions to the vulnerability of systems must be sought, in any case and always, within modernity itself. Within modern complex social systems, the dimensions of communication and the social production of knowledge have assumed extraordinary significance although it is still up to politics, despite the deep crisis in which it finds itself, identifying and developing the most appropriate strategies to ensure that all subjects are truly included, contrasting that widespread perception of chaotic isolation but also of vulnerability and precariousness of existences, belongings and social experiences. This is also because homo faber wanted to exercise his will to power in an immeasurable way, but this has not only led to new opportunities: it has also created new and dramatic forms of conflict and inequality, further marked by limited access or lack of sharing knowledge and information resources. It is in this direction that Politics can/must work to recover its space, now invaded and dominated by the economy and finance.

Communication, in a complementary way to the development of the productive forces, has always been the decisive variable for the development of social systems. The improvement of communication flows, from the top to the bottom of human societies, has always represented progress, at least a moment of transition towards new forms of sociality and new forms of mediation of interests and conflicts: the birth of democratic systems, diplomacy in international relations and bureaucracy in those between citizen and State, are paradigmatic examples. In the current phase of change, moreover marked by a deep crisis (obviously) not only economic, communication and social knowledge could also concretely contribute to a process of rapprochement between the system of power and civil society, defining a new symmetry of social relations, with an inevitable reconfiguration and repositioning of the public sphere. In practical terms, this would translate into the strengthening of an increasingly critical and informed public opinion (local and global) and, for this reason, increasingly active participant and recipient of the choices of the Policy. This could be the real added value of radical modernity, after the great illusion of the postmodern. From this point of view, the new ecosystem of knowledge finds in the interconnected economy potential opportunities for the democratization of knowledge and cultural processes capable of definitively undermining the old industrial model made up of consolidated structures, hierarchies, logics of control and closure to change. Knowledge, a strategic intangible resource for the ongoing change, is increasingly seen and perceived as a common good capable of re-establishing less unbalanced and asymmetrical social and power relations.

In this same line of discourse, it is vitally important not to fall back on the historical error of measuring inequalities solely on the basis of economic indicators: access to knowledge, information, education, the possibility of having one's identity and citizenship rights, equality of opportunity, the freedom to freely express one's thoughts and self-fulfillment, the development of an open society are as fundamental indicators as per capita income or GDP. Politics must take action so that social media and networks become technologies of cooperation and not of control, opening up to the experimentation of new forms of democratic participation (1998 et seq.) and to the power of mobile and intelligent multitudes (Rheingold, 2002).

The logic of the self-regulated free market has had a significant weight but the socio-cultural dimension continues to remain absolutely strategic in the reading of economic phenomena and processes as well. In this sense, we cannot fail to acknowledge how global society has been shaped by the values of a sometimes exasperated individualism – even by postmodern rhetoric itself – and by the myth of productivity without workers. In our opinion, almost a mythology of the autonomous individual has been created, free from all ties, an individual who, for his actions, seems to have no answer to anything or anyone: other than the reference to the well-known distinction between ethics of intention and ethics of responsibility. We have gone far beyond any legal and/or cultural constraint: money and consumption count and the only (micro) power of citizens is in their being consumers. These dimensions, together with the void of meaning left by the crisis of ideologies, have also produced, among the consequences, a sort of general moral disarmament, which feeds the society of irresponsibility (Dominici, 2010). – a type of society where, beyond an extremely articulated normative and deontological framework, ethics and responsibility are much “talked about” and discussed, but little practiced – devoid of any ethics of sacrifice. The mythology of the sovereign individual, bearer of rights but not of duties, has produced damages that are difficult to calculate/assess, especially as regards respect for the common good and the "public thing", but also the way of perceiving and observing norms, values , rules, behavior patterns, etc.; a mythology or, better to say, a narration that has produced, among other effects, a negative deregulation and a removal of responsibility from social actors, at all levels. From this point of view too, it is necessary exit this visual navigation phase, in which the links between the individual and the institutions, between the individual and the traditional socialization agencies (family, school, religion, etc.), between politics and citizens, have been greatly weakened and this distance that has arisen has certainly favored the ever more massive and decisive involvement of the media - and specifically of the Web and social media - in the process of formation of individual and collective identities and, even, in the recognition and operational definition of social instances on which to operate claims against politics. This further proliferation of training centers and, more generally, of the arenas in which thought is substantiated and practice is designed goes hand in hand with the communication crisis that has hit the institutions and traditional players in the training process, suspended between excessive information and fear of disconnection. Also because the Net (and social networks) continues to include and exclude (people and opinions) according to logics that are far from the same assumptions of the knowledge society and of open and shared knowledge (Dominici, 2003). In other words, we are faced with a (potentially) open system paradoxically made up of closed networks that reproduce the social mechanisms of traditional social and communicative practice (including power relations).


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