“Figaro”: the Main message of your book is counterintuitive: although there was a General feeling that the advent of digital technology has radically changed our lives, you say that really about any revolution. The digital medium has led to such profound changes in our society and the economy, as it seems… But why everyone (except you) is talking about the “digital revolution”?
Jerome Koshar*: Our book was born from a question about this unanimity. Choir preachers of the digital revolution it sounds so loud, it blocks out all other voices. The digital revolution is primarily a revolution of public relations and advertising, that is funding a significant part of the culture industry. There is nothing surprising in the fact that this topic is thumb in articles filled with catastrophism or blissful naiveté. We went in search of the digital revolution, abandoning any stamps, and tried to understand its extent: what kind of depth we find in other industries? As all manifested in the public sphere? What are macroeconomic indicators point to this? Often the digital revolution is a fuzzy concept, which is designed to give the media a touch of modernity.
Jobic de Kalan*: In the depths of the digital revolution doubt not just us! Back in 1987 Nobel prize winner in Economics Robert Solow (Robert Solow) have narrowed it down to the following wording: “We see computers everywhere but in the statistics of productivity”. Economist Robert Gordon (Robert Gordon) have devoted a monumental and very interesting book the decline of productivity growth in the United States. If to take into account the visible role of technology at the moment, you might think that we can produce more and better. Only here in fact, productivity growth has never been so weak as over the past decade, and this trend has continued since the early 1980-ies.
Back to the “Glorious thirty years” of Fourastie Jean (Jean Fourastié), and his description of the progress of France in specific aspects of daily life (food, transportation, clothing, housing…). We are just amazed at the contrast between the huge leap from 1945 to 1975, on the wave of third industrial revolution and a modest change in France, USA or Germany over the past 30 years. In fact, we are witnessing, rather, a displacement value through a range of digital tools, not the creation of wealth, which people can use individually or collectively. This is one of the reasons that we talk about overstating the extent of the digital revolution.
— That is, your approach is economic in nature: the digital revolution, no, because digital technology has not had a significant impact on the main macroeconomic indicators… But not every revolution can be measured in numbers!
Jobic de Kalan: Only here the main economic indicators are a formal (albeit imperfect) representation of what actually citizens live. We hold performance because the synthetic indicator is very important and specific. The rise of productivity means rising standards of living, more free time for rest and communion with loved ones, the reduction or even the disappearance of some unpleasant and tiring task.
If the phenomenon does not promote the well-being and does not become a source of growth, it cannot be considered a revolution. At the same time, digital technologies are not the key to understanding the ills of our world. We note in the book that if you try to analyze the world through this prism, the output will be only the defective reading, which is not able to find the answers to the changes and anxieties of our society.
— It could be argued that the current role of the Internet giants and their enormous influence, including in cultural terms are a significant innovation. You say that no world of the “Big four” is actually there! Why?
Jerome Koshar: This concept involves completely different things. What is the connection between “Apple” whose turnover is more than 60% applies to the sale of phones, and the advertising giant “Google” who lives data and for data? What skhodtvo giant online store Amazon, whose activities are barely at the level of profitability and is more about logistics than technology, and the world’s largest social network “Facebook”, with 20 times less people? The closer you look at these four companies, the more differences I notice. The only common point is their economic success among consumers, their nationality and the fear that they inspire competitors and governments. We think that to the generality of this is still not enough.
In addition, these four companies have different interests. The head of Apple Tim cook (Tim Cook) today presents himself as a champion of personal data protection, which was a direct blow to the economic models of companies that exploit the data.
— You refuse to build itself from prophets and often remember those who are caught in a trap of its own forecasts for the digital economy. Anyway, you say that “the coming years will be the period of the return to reality.” What do you mean?
Jobic de Kalan: Yes, we don’t trust the prophets. In our time, when everybody has a short memory, although there are technical means to preserve what was said and done, we rarely look back to check whether the predictions come true these gurus (this is not always the case, and we give a number of examples). Our book seeks primarily to help his contemporaries to understand this era in isolation from all sorts of slogans and appeals.
Jerome Koshar: Such a return to reality brewing for some time and should only gain momentum. The issues of control of personal data and tax optimization platforms have long been ripe in the public mind, not only among the elite.
— From an anthropological point of view, digital technology, in your opinion, has not led to major changes in the person or work of the society. Your book as a whole raises the question about the role of technology: you kind of put them in their place and not recognize them the opportunity to change the nature of man. Facebook, if to take only this example allows people to communicate more, but does not make them better morally…
Jerome Koshar: You are right: the digital revolution starts from the principle that technology is changing society. “Let’s make the world a better place” — this was the motto of Silicon valley. The extent of frustration correspond to the power of hope, and therefore to read that the movement of the “yellow vests” appeared exclusively thanks to Facebook (this implies that the wrath of the people would not find out of social network) is offensive to the French.
Jobic de Kalan: We believe that technology is neutral in nature, and that all depends on their use by humans. Thus, social networks do not represent an independent world, which creates new rules, but rather are a reflection of what is happening in our lives in electronic form. They are like wrapped around the Earth, tracing paper. Facebook does not become a source engulfed French society of violence. Enough to go on demonstrations of the past few weeks to make sure that this violence is not virtual.
* Jobic de Kalan (Jobic de Calan), consultant at PR strategies, lecturer at the Paris Institute of political studies
** Jerome Koshar (Jérôme Cauchard), head of the company in the field of digital solutions, lecturer at the Paris Institute of political studies
Read more •••