Humanities & Social Sciences

a plea to think differently in the digital age


This book will launch on Feb 17, 2021. Currently, only those with the link can see it. 🔒

In just a few decades, economy and society have been digitalized. At any time every citizen can be informed of what is happening all over the world and be "online" 24/7. All this has enormous effects on the way in which societies are functioning. The physical world of everyday life is no longer the decisive entity, but the digital world is actually the world in which the economy flourishes and decisions are made. A digital layer has impregnated the classical world, connecting everything to everything and creating “short circuits” in the classical way of life.
The above makes it clear that digitalization touches societies deeply, both for the rich and the poor, for rich and poor countries alike. Social- economics shift, labour markets change, technologies threaten people and make some people richer than rich. Should we accept everything that is going on? Can we do anything about it? What can or should governments do? Many questions, but as yet there are too few answers. But whatever the case: we need a different mindset for the digital world.


Preface of “A plea to think differently in the digital world”, Peter Hagedoorn

The fluid society is a name for the digital society that humanity will grow towards in the coming years. Over the last ten years I have written many columns about the digital transformation of society, comparing the old situation with ice cubes - the nation-states - melting under digital pressure, resulting in globalization and many other effects. Hopefully a fluid society will eventually emerge in which people's work and leisure will become more virtual and international. A society in which borders are less important which will lead to more equal and fair living conditions for people worldwide.

This book contains a number of columns I have written about social developments in the fluid society. Nowadays we live in a scrambled world, in which everybody can live everywhere, can work digital wherever they want and yet keep in touch with their own culture. We mingle more than ever , but do not really live together. This leads to vulnerable and crumbled societies. We are also confronted with overpopulation and we know already that the earth is not able to provide everybody with a decent living, nor will nature be able to cope with so many people. Our way of thinking prevents the actions which are required to solve these and other global problems. As long as “we-they” thinking overrides “we-together” thinking, we wil not be able to solve the long term problems we have to solve to survive. The present nation-state, a product from classical society, seems one of the hurdles to the future. Nation states prevent people and companies from working freely together. Instead of nation-states serving their people and companies, it seems nation-states are becoming more and more an aim in themselves or tools, toys or sidebars for old men seeking power and bonuses as CEO’s of nation states. How to bring back governments into a situation in which they support their people and companies, rather than using them? Into a modus of working together multilaterally to solve the huge global problems, to the benefit of all?

Governments should realize that over 50% of mankind has a smartphone, and thus is “connected”. These people absorb knowledge from internet to enrich and improve their lives. They might try to emigrate to better areas, but there is also the option to provide them with the right knowledge to improve their living in the places where they live today. It is a challenge for richer countries to prevent immigration by helping poorer countries. In the meantime the world is digitally threatened by cyber criminals, misbehaving governments, disinformation and tech giants seeking more and more profits. Society might be sucked into a digital black hole if we don’t take measures to prevent domination by digital entities which only seek their own wellbeing. Governments should make rules for social media and internet, to keep internet free and safe for everybody.

Furthermore the labour market is heavily affected by digitalization. Yellow vests protests in France show the problems for those in the lower ranks, while digitalization makes some others ever richer. A new social-economic contract is required for society. It is not only the labour market that is changing. Man itself is subject of digital technologies. Will robots and algorithms take over society? Will we see half man half computer beings, connected to the internet to fill their brains? There are already experiments with makeable humans at universities, so called cyborgs. Should we allow all these developments? Should we make happen what is possible and is that good for mankind? 

In the enclosed columns I express some brief thoughts about all these subjects that are changing today’s society.

About the author

Peter Hagedoorn was trained as a physics engineer, pursued a career in which he worked as CIO and on digital transformations for the public and private sector. He was Dutch CIO Award Winner, chairman of the CIO-Platform Netherlands, and he became Secretary General of the European CIO Association. view profile

Published on January 06, 2021

10000 words

Genre: Humanities & Social Sciences