Some of us still remember the days when the internet was hailed as a promised space, where ethics, enlightened self-interest, and the commonweal would prevail. A space that is everywhere and nowhere, a space of self determination, where anyone could express their belief, where thoughts could spread — John Perry Barlow wrote in 19961.
Today, ventures like Google and Facebook dominate the internet. Beyond the web, those organizations challenge the social contracts of our nations, societies, and market economies. In our societies we were owners, employees, consumers; on the territories of the internets, we are reduced to users. We became addicted to the ubiquity and convenience of digital products. We feel empowered, but we are lured into giving up bits of ourselves. Our attention, behavior, and intimacy is the land those ventures seek to concur. Bit by bit, we lose ground, we surrender control in exchange for access to consumption, and convenience. But these applications consume us, we lose desire, our impulses take over; “software is eating the world,”2 as one prescient internet investor wrote way back in 2011. This world is us.
In this book, (1) I highlight the dichotomy between the official narrative of organizations (such as Google and Facebook) and their actions. They proclaim universal philanthropic missions, while the core nature of their business model is to generate revenues from access to our data. (2) Then I describe the impacts their products have on our mental health and social life — and how we got here: we’ve had no public education about internet and the web.
Most of us leave our “internet education” in the hands of Google, Facebook and others. Google and Facebook are educating more than 2 billions people about what the internet is. (3) That’s why, in the last section of this book, I go back to the basics of internet education and digital self-care, so we can better protect our mental well-being in a society where technology has taken over our daily lives.
This is a book catered towards the non-tech savvy people, as both warning and path forward. Unlike other alarming materials about ‘tech surveillance’ that make people feel anxious and provide little alternatives, I would like my book to make people feel better by providing them with knowledge to understand how organizations tie them in, and teach them the skills to identify alternatives.
Also, I am writing this book as an excuse to engage the conversation and figure out what I will work on next.
I have written articles for blogs in the US and Europe. Some of my writings were translated in Dutch, German, Italian, Turkish, Spanish, French and Portuguese.
If you would like to take a look at what I have written, here is a selection:
Some more practical blog posts:
I worked for the French State as a public relations officer in the digital & technology space. I also held various positions in early-stage, Series A and B startups, did some consulting on digital transformation for a dozens of multinationals, and worked as a technology analyst in an investment funds.
Amongst other things, I’ve been involved with some conferences in Asia. I also had a stint working in Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), in Pyongyang and its surroundings, with a non-governmental organization.
I like to make reading my default activity (see book reviews.) I’ve spent a fair time at sea sailing ~30-footers in the Med, around Brittany and England, and across the Atlantic. I love taking my friends out sailing on vacation, especially in Sardinia. I do yoga, run, and intend to do vipassana again. I like hiking and bivouacking in mountains.
You are welcome to message me on rpsa at pm dot me.
If you want to keep in touch:
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A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace (1996) by John Perry Barlow, poet and Internet philosopher, cofounder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation aka EFF↩︎
Software Is Eating the World (2011) by Marc Andreessen, cofounder and general partner at the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz aka a16z↩︎