Saturday, January 21, 2006

A psychological viewpoint on debates about Web 2.0

VitruvianWhile researching the dynamics of what is now conventionally called Web 2.0, thinking about the impacts of these new ways of using infotech to deliver valuable services to the users of the web, I examined some of the interactions between the various stakeholders from a psychological perspective. In particular I focused on the debate going on in France these days about copyright, music sharing schemes and peer-to-peer.

What I see is a conflict between very different sets of people that can be see in different ways: established players vs challengers, conservatives vs progressives, pro-regulation vs anti-regulation, capitalists vs alter-capitalists and anti-capitalists, worshipers of rules and rationality vs adepts of artistic intuition... Of course I am biased in the way I analyze the situation, but at the end of the day that is not so relevant. The question is rather to see whether  we are capable to move beyond conflict; not to deny the confrontation of ideas, values and ideals, but rather to extract from it something larger that "transcends and includes" as C.G. Jung or K. Wilber would suggest. Do we have to be in an "EITHER-OR" frame of mind? How can we move towards an inclusive way? For example, what means could allow long-tail players like jamendo to harmoniously coexist on the market with more traditional players (even though some of the traditional practices will have to evolve to allow transcendence and inclusion to occur)? And figuring out whether the "quiet revolution of the tail" can be durably repressed by the establishment is another interesting question. Again, using history and psychology of the unconscious mind, I would bet that what is repressed eventually comes to center stage, if need be violently (which is perhaps why some philosophers like Jiddu Krishnamurti claim that extreme differentiation is the root of violence, but that is another topic).

For those interested in the debate currently taking place in France regarding copyright, peer-to-peer and music downloads, here is a link to an interesting proposal I got from the CEO of jamendo. The approach is very much in the spirit of "transcend and include". France is in fact facing something much more important than the mere choice between allowing legal downloads and banning every piece of technology the legislative body does not understand: France faces a choice of civilization, the choice between a rigid decaying society and an open innovative society in which established positions will be challenged. Historically the country mostly chose progress and they cannot afford to sleep on their laurels because there might not be a second Général De Gaulle to save the country from decadence...

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