Showing posts from May, 2020

"Frustration" and "apology": two traps of the (English) language of failure (series: notes to myself)

Suppose you are involved in designing, developing and deploying an artefact. It could be anything. Let's say, for the sake of simplicity, that someone, call him John, is building a new shower in your house. You need the shower. The shower you want is the right shower for your family. It is also a shower that would work well for everybody in the family (one person needs facilitated access). And in case you change your mind, you can always replace it with a bath or even remove it. It is actually a temporary solution. In short, your project is necessary, proportionate, justified, and time-bound (because reversible when you decide to change your mind). Following these conditions, you have some instructions about where you would like it, the design, the style, the budget, when work could start, when it should end, etc. Call them requirements. Based on all this, you issue your recommendations to John.  Work starts, but, unfortunately, it does not go well. Things go south, as they

On the Future after the Coronavirus in 250 words (series: notes to myself)

I was invited to contribute to this beautiful initiative by El Pais with a short comment (250 words) on the future after the coronavirus, in relation to digital technologies. I was honoured and delighted to accept.  You can read the Spanish translation here .  The following is the original English version (preferable in terms of the logical flow of the reasoning). It introduces the concept of three-dimensional solidarity – social, political, and environmental – and the suggestion that the human project that could sustain it and be sustained by it, may be one based on the marriage between the Green of all our environments (natural and artefactual) and the Blue of our digital technologies ( the green and the blue project ,  see also here ). In this time of great suffering, there is a strong desire to look beyond the pandemic. Thus, much is being written about the future. There are predictions . They try to guess what the world will be like. The more specific they are, the gre

Pandemic lesson: the disappearance of externalities

Lazy neurons, they fail to see connections even when they are obvious. I cannot recall when I started hearing people talking about the global village , globalisation , hyperconnectivity , spaceship earth , Gaia , ... I grew up with this holistic language as my conceptual koiné . But only recently, thanks to the pandemic, I realised that I should have linked it to another phenomenon: the disappearance of externalities . It is so obvious now. In pseudo-precise literature or pretentious conversations, an externality is a negative effect of a profitable activity, call it a cost, paid by someone else. Like what happens if one runs a profitable business that pollutes someone else's environment.  My externalities may be unintended, possibly avoidable, but it is not my problem whether they occur, and the fact that they may occur is not going to stop me from pursuing my activities, since the cost paid by someone else is not a sufficient disincentive to sacrifice my own benefit.