I have the pleasure to report here the English translation of the article that Stefano Quintarelli, a pioneer of the Italian Internet, wrote for Il Foglio some days ago. I have been astonished by t…
Source: Intermediated of the world, unite! | Radio Bruxelles Libera, by Innocenzo Genna
English translation of: Intermediati digitali, unitevi | Il Foglio, by Stefano Quintarelli (Italian)
We can no longer limit the analysis to capital and labor, we must also include information in the equation and the digital revolution that expresses it.
In just a few years, the traditional capital-labor conflict has been wrapped and dominated by another conflict, a conflict with information that, through the control of intermediation, presses on both. … We are observing a monopolization in the domination of the relevance of the immaterial dimension over the material dimension, in the creation and distribution of wealth, with a rising conflict between intermediaries and intermediated, with the compression of rights and guarantees for large social bodies and with a significant political influence.
The info-plutocracy of the intermediators is based on a centralized control of information, both in terms of data (privacy implications are an epiphenomenon) and of processes with which such data are collected, processed, communicated and used.
The conflict between intermediators and intermediaries induced by the digital revolution of the twenty-first century develops in the relationship between information and production (understood as the product of capital and labor) and is starting a social confrontation between a model of management of centralized information that has developed in recent years (and supported by large technological multinationals) and a decentralized model promoted by some avant-gardes (philosophical, technological, political, etc.), a debate with profound differences between those who advocate closed systems and environments and those who fight for decentralization, to foster greater competition and the possibility for users contestability.
In some cases it has been proposed to build “state champions” (such as a public search engine, or a social network or a public platform for professional bidding). In other cases it was also proposed to consider social networking as a non-duplicable social infrastructure and someone even proposed nationalization. These are hypotheses that bring to my mind the Soviet response to the pressures of industrialization through state-owned companies.
I believe we need to respond as Western society has responded to the industrial revolution, that is, with more market oriented interventions, favouring less concentration of information and regulation of negative externalities. I believe we should not give in to the logic of the inevitability of closed systems and we must stand firmly on the side of openness.
To tackle the digital revolution we need a comprehensive package of measures that are based on the principles of what we have already done in the period of the industrial revolution: new forms of taxation, innovations in welfare, workers’ rights, public guarantee controls for consumers and, fundamentally, increased competition, procompetitive rules, user contendibility, interoperability of services, etc.
But this can hardly happen without an awareness of this new conflict of intermediation between information on the one hand and production (that is, the combination of capital and labor) on the other and without this awareness becoming translated into political action. In order for this political action to take place, it is necessary for the intermediaries to demand it by coalescing into awareness: “Intermediated of the world, unite!”.