Ideas from today’s technological world

For the French philosopher Michel Serres, young people born with digital technology are the Thumbelina generation, characterized by having enough information to make decisions. He explains it with the following ideas.


Technological revolution
Computers offer an original solution for the “support-message” that has undergone three transformations over time. The first, with the appearance of writing, the second with the invention of the printing press and the third generated with the advent of information technology  and its legal, political and economic impact. “The crisis that we are experiencing today is, roughly speaking, the same one that we have experienced twice.”


Invent unimaginable things
“With our mobile phones in hand, we master many things. The pessimists say: ‘it is information’ and they are right. Information is not knowledge, it is knowledge. Faced with these mutations, there is no doubt that it is convenient to invent outside of outdated frameworks.


“With his GPS he travels the planet, with Wikipedia he hoards the knowledge of humanity, thanks to his agenda he communicates with his friends wherever they are. The connective replaces the collective, produces communities, associations, ways of being together that were previously unpredictable.  Thumbelina has the immediacy and an experience of present time that no one has had before.


New institutions for new times
Existing institutions, according to Serres, have been created for a world that no longer exists. “Young people will have to reinvent everything  and create a more participatory democracy.”


The new media
“On the one hand there is the passive posture (television), with which we fall asleep. And with it we can become relatively stupid. But being  in an active position (computer) you have the possibility of becoming intelligent”.


Climate change
Thumbelina is not responsible for climate change. It is about an economic question like the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries  that generated the comfort that we know with the destruction of the planet. “We must enable a planet where future generations can live, at least as well as us or even better.”

Meet Michel Serres

For most of his life he has been a professor, and since 1982 he has taught at Stanford University in nearby  Silicon Valley .  Serres  has witnessed the development of new technologies and their incorporation into daily activities.  He is a traveler, athlete, environmentalist and science popularizer with a multidisciplinary vision.

“The Thumbelina generation holds in their hands a new time, space and access to information. A new world”,

Michel Serres.

At the beginning of the 21st century, he warned in the newspaper  Le Monde  that  computing was too old in its objectives and too new in its achievements,  he said that “as happened with writing and printing, they will affect most social practices” .

In 2012 he published the essay Thumbelina, in which he explains how young people must face the third revolution: the transition to new technologies.

More about Michel Serres and Thumbelina  here




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