The Internet and change

For Manuel CASTEILS : we should have healthy doubts about the bombastic claims from futurologists and techno-prophets that because we now have the Internet everything will change. Society is a complicated system that can shape and twist technology to unexpected uses. It is not correct to predict a total transformation just because there is a new technology of communication.

People, institutions, companies and society at large transform technology by appropriating it, modifying it, and experimenting with it. That is the fundamental lesson from the history of technology. It is even more so in the case of the Internet, which is transforming the way we communicate. Our lives are deeply affected by this new communication technology. But by doing things with the Internet, we transform the Internet itself: a new socio-technical pattern emerges.

Futurologists have polluted our understanding of projects in an Internet-based world. The world is indeed based on the Internet, but geography, history and institutions do not disappear.

Places are networked, people are networked, companies are networked. However, without knowledge and information, the best industrial plant in the world cannot effectively produce and sell. What is fundamental is that connectivity and knowledge are the higher value-generating activities. But value can not be disembodied from the material world. In fact, the material world embodies information and knowledge. This is how and why the Internet is important : it connects materiality and symbol processing