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★ Senior developer

17 October, by David Larlet[ —]

Defining “senior” is an ongoing and surprisingly difficult process, but we do it because it’s business-critical for us. Without a clear definition of “senior developer", we have no clear path for our own employees to get there. We have no concrete way to evaluate people joining the team, no way to hold ourselves accountable, and no way of improving the process.

The Conjoined Triangles of Senior-Level Development (cache)

There is a moment in your developer career when you wonder if you’re senior enough to depict yourself as a senior developer. This is not at all a matter of how old you are (cache), neither how much you’re being paid. This is more related to how many and diverse experiments you made, how many different peers you helped onboarding a project, how easy it becomes to transmit your knowledge, how much confidence you accumulated and how fast you can admit you’re totally wrong. Actually, this is all about the fluidity you can have with a team within an evolving complex context. That is the moment you realize you are more valuable than the code you produce.

You’re here to speed up the learning process but not too much, otherwise your fellow companions are totally missing the potential failures and are pursuing without accumulating knowledge. Going fast is useful only if everybody within the boat is aware of what has been tried before and what was wrong (and right!) for that particular journey. It can only be achieved with a ton of communication.

When you’re lucky enough to be part of a team of highly skilled developers, you know that everybody will still progress technically because it’s part of the team’s DNA. Besides some long-running trolls, you know that the hard part will not be about technical capabilities anymore, the team is confident enough on that side to learn quickly if necessary. The hard part will be to consider the team — present and future — as a whole. It requires a tremendous amount of empathy to make the right social decisions.

Senior team members should be expected to spend half their time mentoring and helping others on the team get better. Their job isn’t just to be the code hero bottleneck.

Want to be an Engineering Manager? (cache)

Here the important word is bottleneck and I think that better than trying to reach the senior label individually, it has to be gained as a team. It’s way more challenging to be part of something bigger than yourself. You can mesure how “senior” a team is by how good it is at reducing bottlenecks and sharing responsibilities.

Finally, it also creates social problems as well. Bugs that span multiple services and require many changes can languish as multiple teams need to coordinate and synchronize their efforts on fixing things. It can also breed a situation where people don’t feel responsible, and will push as many of the issues onto other teams as possible. When engineers work together in the same codebase, their knowledge of each other and the system itself grows in kind. They’re more willing and capable when working together to tackle problems, as opposed to being the kings and queens of isolated little fiefdoms.

Microservices - Please, don’t (cache)

Choosing carefully which trends you’re following is key. Some are particularly destructive for the social interactions. I already talked about GraphQL, I think that microservices are even worse. This is a particular case when there is so much tensions within the team that you need to separate people and their products to still be able to deliver some value. A senior developer has to be inclusive in his productions and reactions, sometimes at the expense of speed or relevance.

The last step is to write about it. This could be a blog post, a book, or a conference talk. When I write about a topic, I explore the edges of what I know, the edges outside of what I needed to initially implement the idea.

How do I learn? (cache)

One part of becoming a senior developer is to be able to go just a bit deeper than the average developer and be able to share it. That’s a tiny advantage that makes all the difference. Sharing can take many forms, from blogging to giving a presentation or pushing some code on a repository. The end-result is not the most important (except for ego maybe). The moment you dig into the concrete issue and spend some time on it, the process of acquiring that knowledge and being capable of transmitting it. That’s the key point.

We are knowledgeable and productive, yes, but we also understand that we may actually know fewer (useful) things than we did at a prior point in our career. A non-trivial amount of our knowledge has decayed, and we may not have had the time to accumulate enough new knowledge to compensate.


We realize that it’ll require real effort to just maintain our level proficiency - and without that effort, we could be worse at our jobs in 5 years than we are today.

Reflections of an "Old" Programmer (cache)

The combination of our knowledge decay being extremely fast and our knowledge accumulation rate being quite slow leads to burnouts and endless questioning. Both being quite destructive on the long term. Senior developers are survivors. The ones finding a steady pace in their learning and a clear balance between theory and practice on a day-to-day basis. The ones taking the time to transmit their experience and to be kind enough (cache) to reduce the pain for newcomers. The ones avoiding depression and dead-ends like management and entrepreneurship. The ones escaping the craftsmanship and perfection rabbit holes. The ones considering themselves not senior enough to push the limits of its definitions. What is your one?

★ Slow Data

4 October, by David Larlet[ —]

In our search for answers to a problem which appears if not intractable then complex, is the speed of the media’s technology – and the politicians’ willing participation in the 24/7 news cycle – obscuring rather than illuminating the issues?

Are we simplifying the arguments if only by default, by not investigating them fully, or by appealing to an emotional response rather than an explanatory one?


But it does not mean we are covering the news more deeply or more analytically. We may be generating heat. But are we really delivering light?


We may think we are absorbing more information. In fact we are simply giving in to the temptation of the easy over the hard, the quick over the slow.

BBC Radio Director Helen Boaden resigns, criticising state of journalism (cache)

The idea of slow journalism is not new (see The Slow Media Manifesto (cache)) and I recently discovered that it can be applied to data too (cache). For quite a long time actually:

Data is growing in volume, as it always has, but only a small amount of it is useful. Data is being generating and transmitted at an increasing velocity, but the race is not necessarily for the swift; slow and steady will win the information race. Data is branching out in ever-greater variety, but only a few of these new choices are sure. Small, slow, and sure should be our focus if we want to use data more effectively to create a better world.

The Slow Data Movement: My Hope for 2013 (cache)

As a member of a team building an OpenData portal, these are questions we’re discussing on a regular basis. I wondered what would happened if I had to build something new from scratch. A few months ago, I made that experiment using Riot and Falcon (eventually not published because I don’t want to maintain it). The goal was to play with technical concepts from these frameworks and to deal with the complexity to serve data from various sources and qualities. My budget was quite constrained with less than ten evenings. After a while, I realized how hard the task was. Not (only) on a User eXperience point of view but because current data are so messy that you can’t easily pick up — even manually — some datasets and make them shine.

Maybe what we need the most is a Chief Data Editor, not a Chief Data Officer. Someone in charge of refining, storytelling and finally caring about the data. And when I say someone, this is actually a whole team that is needed given how ambitious the task is. Indexing data submissions is only the stage 1 of what could be achieved with OpenData and we experienced how limited it is in its externalities. Raw data yesterday, curated data tomorrow?

What if hackathons were not gigantic buzzword bingo sprints. Maybe we can turn these events into marathons. Put together a team for a week that focuses on a unique dataset, not necessarily full-time. The goal is to deliver a usable version at the end of the week and to celebrate what has been accomplished. Turn the shiny investor/mentor crap demo into a useful explanation of dead-ends and tools in use for the clean up that can be useful to the whole community. Curathons, really?!

Another option is to improve data directly at the source. Data is somehow a static API and as such a conversation too! Both producers and consumers of the data would benefit from more communication on how they actually (re)use it, why they are blocked, which are technical/political challenges to provide a better version and so on. The OpenData cannot succeed with the current one-shot approach, it has to be a continuous process.

It takes way more time to understand the actual issues in the lack of reutilizations and maybe it would lead to less datasets released at the end of the day. But hopefully of better quality. And quality matters to lower barriers to (re)adoption. Giving thousands of datasets to a couple of geeks does not produce the same results as giving a hundred of reusable datasets to millions of citizens. Don’t get me wrong, we desperately need geeks to make them reusable in the first place…

★ Inclusive communities

28 September, by David Larlet[ —]

It’s extremely hard to build inclusive communities. Communities where a stranger can come and take part of the discussion without feeling like a weirdo or an impostor. Communities where members do not feel ashamed of not welcoming newcomers too! From my experience these last weeks — I attended a few technical meetups in Montreal — I can say that it’s always hard to be the one not knowing anybody :-).

A few things I’d give a try as a community:

  • have a dedicated group of very inclusive people at the entrance that targets new people and give some directions, the group can rotate during the event but should be labeled as it one way or another.
  • have a way to identify newcomers, stickers, funny hats, whatever. The community should know that these people will feel lonely for their first time.
  • have a place to introduce yourself as a newcomer before the event for everybody else to know why you’re here and what’s your background.
  • have some kind of “icebreaker” that attributes a voluntary mentor for each new people. Even if that’s symbolic, it’s good to know that there is a person that you can bother during the event.

With these propositions, you will definitely feel more vulnerable as a newcomer. But hopefully, the fact to be explicitly recognized as a new member of the community will drive more care and attention toward you from all the other members. And I hope there are more people willing to include you than to bully you. Otherwise that’s probably not the community you’re looking for anyway.

★ Passion et définition

25 September, by David Larlet[ —]

Following your passion is a very “me”-centered view of the world. When you go through life, what you’ll find is what you take out of the world over time — be it money, cars, stuff, accolades — is much less important than what you’ve put into the world. So my recommendation would be follow your contribution. Find the thing that you’re great at, put that into the world, contribute to others, help the world be better and that is the thing to follow.

Don’t Follow Your Passion: Career Advice for Recent Graduates (cache)

J’ai toujours tourné autour de la passion pour me définir numériquement « passionné par le Web », « mon métier est une passion », etc. Je trouve la passion de plus en plus dangereuse et inexacte dans mon cas. J’essaye justement de résoudre des problèmes de manière dépassionnée pour être en mesure d’écouter ceux que je vais tenter d’aider. De la même manière, se passionner pour le Web ou pour un outil est relativement stérile, c’est ce que l’on arrive à en faire qui est exaltant.

Se définir est un exercice extrêmement difficile, j’ai du mal à m’en tenir à une définition technique (cache) ou simpliste (cache) car mon rôle ne se limite pas à résoudre des problèmes mais de manière plus large à en prendre conscience et à avoir l’empathie suffisante pour être pertinent. Quitte à m’y reprendre plusieurs fois. Quitte à ne jamais y arriver. Quitte à devoir le raconter pour pouvoir m’en souvenir. Quitte à faire le deuil de la performance pour bénéficier des externalités de la collaboration. Ces différentes étapes de lâcher-prise sont loin d’être techniques.

La quête de la perfection rend immobile, me dit-il. L’immobilisme est une pulsion de mort. Le bricolage, imparfait, est l’expression du désir. Le geste de jeter au monde une création imparfaite, une idée en développement, un outil plus ou moins bancal. Tout cela. C’est l’expression de la vie, a-t-il dit. Une pulsion de survie.

Hack is life ! (cache)

Cette friction qui existe dans l’imperfection est une piste intéressante. Peut-être est-ce ma pulsion de survie : Générer des imperfections qui tendent vers un monde singulier. Un espace-temps dans lequel chacun aurait le luxe d’expérimenter, de s’accomplir et de rencontrer. Sans forcément juger les expériences des autres (cache), ni poursuivre les mêmes accomplissements. En s’inspirant des imperfections d’autrui pour se remettre en question et pourquoi pas faire un bout de chemin ensemble. Le temps de s’augmenter l’un et l’autre.

On stigmatise les gens qui « ne font rien », en oubliant les gens qui font et « qui ne sont rien », dont l’identité est totalement broyée par leur travail, et qui représentent une part bien plus importante de la société que les premiers nommés. Évidemment qu’il existe un équilibre. Le rechercher passe par des phases d’explorations alternées du faire et de l’être, pour ensuite pouvoir faire en étant, et être en faisant, dans la joie.


Qui es-tu, quand tu ne fais rien ?

Je suis un fainéant. Ou pas. (cache)

Peut-être que le changement débute par son rapport à l’autre ; auquel on ne commence pas par demander ce qu’il fait dans la vie mais ce qu’il est dans la vie. Très personnel, assez brutal, à tenter :-).

★ Delivery and value(s)

20 September, by David Larlet[ —]

Edelman said that people tend to trust businesses more than governments, in part because “business gets stuff done” while government is seen as “incapable.” People trust technology companies in particular because “they deliver value.”

Trust in Government Is Collapsing Around the World (cache)

I’m working with the French government for more than a year now in a small team where delivery prevails upon meetings and infinite validations. I clearly understand the motivations to push forward what can be achieved by a government. To be inspired by the startup “culture” might be seen as highly positive. At least at first.

The maintenance remains a problem though. Where startups are delivering value as fast as possible in order to be bought or to raise more money, a government doesn’t have these escape plans. A startup joining the dead pool is acceptable, when you remove or neglect a service from a government it will have a direct impact on citizens. Not quite the same responsibility here. You still have the right and duty to kill a product if it doesn’t find its audience but the measurement is harder to define because it’s not purely based on profit.

The more I work on data.gouv.fr, the more I realize that my goal is not (only) to deliver but to challenge the previous processes and cultures. To show that there are other ways to do some things, another angle to see that particular problem and to communicate on its resolutions. New things to experiment both as a team and an international community.

The goal of a group is not only to deliver value but to challenge current values.

The level of trust within governments should be related to their abilities to question their actions, listen to feedback and adapt. This is way more than to deliver punctually or even continuously value. This is about where we are going. Together.

Optimists explain good things as being personal, general, and permanent, and explain away bad things as being impersonal, specific, and temporary. And if you point out the contradiction in their explanations, they see no contradiction. To them, the bad stuff really isn’t about them, it’s just that one thing that one time.

Optimism (cache)

Maybe turning a culture from pessimism to optimism is “just” a matter of making people aware of a new level of consciousness. A level that is not only personal but includes others for heading towards a new vision for this world. Mocking governments for their incapacity is easy, trying to be part of the long-term solution is way more challenging.

Never forget that a nation is a cooperative that scaled.

Trust is clearly broken these days for many reasons but it cannot be restored without a positive attitude and an incredible amount of energy. Working with a government was (and still is!) quite enlightening to me. If you want to change the world and have a big impact (not my ambition but that’s the top reasons given by my peers), think twice before starting/joining a tax-optimized company with no other goal than being bought by a big one. There is a solution probably closer and healthier for everybody.

★ Collaboration debt

18 September, by David Larlet[ —]

There is an old proverb (with many variants) that said:

If you buy quality, you only cry once.

I want to make an analogy with development. Let me rephrase it:

If you collaborate, you only lose time once.

Collaboration is clearly time consuming. You have to explain what you did and why you did it that way to at least another person in the team. Everything is questioned. Pairing is even harder given that you are doing this in real-time. So much time lost “just” by communicating you might think at first. It appears that by sharing your knowledge from the beginning, there are now two developers who are able to transmit that information to other collaborators. Event better, the potential of that transmission is exponential, no more single point of human failure (a.k.a. bus factor). Additionally, the quality of your product increases given that everybody is giving his insights.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you have to be fast and/or your resources are highly constrained. The thing you have to remember is that you create collaboration debt that will hit you one way or another. You have to be careful not to go too deep in that coding loneliness if you plan to keep that service for a few years. There are two keys for the success of a product: adoption and evolution. If you favor too much the first at the price of the second you’re doomed. Restarting from scratch is rarely a good option and splitting an unmaintainable monolith is incredibly time consuming and will slow down the evolution way too much to be competitive enough.

A product is the cumulated experience of a team that will be confident enough to make more experiments. And these experimentations are the only way to continue to innovate and stay ahead of copies of your product. I can hardly name a single project in my whole career (solo or not) where I was truly confident on the code base. Today, I let go about that and I focus on the confidence within the team to be able to tackle legacy parts which are core features of the product. Chop them down, remove the clutter, transmit the knowledge and iterate. If a team care about itself and communicate enough, the resulting code will hopefully be more maintainable, aesthetic and pertinent.

★ Communities and leadership

17 September, by David Larlet[ —]

I am a member of a community of thinkers.

I believe that communities exist as homes for professionals to learn, teach, and reflect on their work.

I challenge each community in the software industry to:

  • reflect and honor the practitioners who make its existence possible;
  • provide an excellent experience for its members;
  • support the excellent experience its members provide for their clients and colleagues in all aspects of their professional interactions;
  • exemplify, as a body, the professional and humane behavior of its members;
  • engage and collaborate within and across communities through respectful exploration of diverse and divergent insights;
  • embrace newcomers to the community openly and to celebrate ongoing journeys; and,
  • thrive on the sustained health of the community and its members through continual reflection and improvement.

I believe that leaders in each community have a responsibility to exhibit these behaviors, and that people who exhibit these behaviors will become leaders.

I am a member of a community of thinkers. If I should happen to be a catalyst more than others, I consider that a tribute to those who have inspired me.

A Community of Thinkers (cache)

I was re-reading that old declaration lately and the two last sentences bugged me. It seems that I’m not the only one in that case given the extract of the reaction I found on InfoQ (sadly the complete original article vanished since then):

Unlike those who inspired me, I am a practitioner. Agile/Lean/Kanban is secondary to me. My job is to delivery business value and these communities provided tools that helped me do it. As a practitioner I discovered problem that I need to solve. I feed these solutions back to the communities. I AM NOT A LEADER AND I RESIST THE NOTION OF BEING ONE. I would like to think I am a member of ”a community of thinkers”. AND I would like to be respected for the contribution I make to those communities. I would like that community to respect me enough to keep giving me new ideas rather than insist I subscribe to an orthodoxy.


So what is the difference between Leaders and Leadership?

A leader feels like a commitment (something we only like if we have to):

  • “Do it this way if you want to be part of my club.”,
  • “My way or the highway”,
  • “You’re either with us or against us”

Leadership feels like an option (this is what we like as it allows freedom of choice):

  • “Here is a way you can do it, it worked for me in a certain context.”,
  • “You might want to check out X it seems related to what you’re doing.”

A Community of Thinkers (cache)

I really like that definition of leadership, it reflects my thoughts on mentoring and teaching new things. I wonder how much mentalities have changed during these last 6 years and if the same kind of statement would be different today regarding the evolution of the reflexion about the role of leaders vs. leadership. Maybe we’re heading toward more inclusive and horizontal communities or maybe I’m just a victim of the bubble effect showing me only what I want to agree with.

Because of that personal nature, we wanted to avoid putting our statement up as some kind of manifesto that people can sign. If you feel strongly enough about this statement that you would want to sign up, copy it. Post it on your own site. Attribute it to wherever you got your copy from – the act of sharing is more important to us than the act of creation – and feel free to change it so that it reflects your own values. I don’t think that any statement like this can ever be perfect, nor will we perfectly live up to it.

Ibid., emphase is mine.

Given that the original initiative encourages re-appropriation, here is my personal take on the end of the statement:

I believe that people in each community have a responsibility to exhibit these behaviors, and that people who exhibit these behaviors will create resilient and friendly communities.

I am a member of a community of thinkers. If I should happen to be a catalyst more than others, I consider that a threat for other participants and I would step down. Healthy communities are acentered graphs, not pyramids or silos.

Now I feel like I can be part of a community of thinkers that doesn’t promote leaders as an achievement to look for but as something to fear and be extremely cautious with. From my experience, free thinking is at that price.

★ Specifications and APIs

15 September, by David Larlet[ —]

One does simply not generate specifications from code.

Darrell Miller, OpenAPI 3.0 - The evolution of a success story (I cannot remember the exact sentence so I meme-ize it, sorry)

OpenAPI 3.0 is the new rebranded, improved and community-driven Swagger specification, a way to interface an HTTP API. It was interesting to get an overview of what’s new and currently discussed on the specification itself but a question from the audience had all my attention because I felt highly concerned with the work we’re doing at data.gouv.fr using Swagger for the API. The case described — generating the Swa^WOpenAPI file directly from (Python) code — is exactly our process to document the API and even consume it on the JS side.

That was the moment Darrell made a break and explained that you have to take care of your specification/contract; it has to be hand-written, not generated. That’s what killed SOAP with the complexity added by automated generators (and consumers). That made me think about the ascendant relation of an API with the server taking all responsibilities and clients which are accepting constraints. It doesn’t have to be that way. When you write the documentation of your API you take the time to think about the necessity of a given resource or verb. You can define an API based on actual needs from clients. You take the time to check your analytics to deprecate unused resources and so on.

To me an API is a discussion between involved parties. They should share responsibilities and constraints over time like in any relation. There is no such thing as engraved endpoints and we should be better at versioning these relations to lead towards the best paths for both sides. We can avoid performing many requests (cache) for a given action, this is adaptation to a given context but it has to be discussed and constantly challenged. The other way around is something as generalist and unoptimized as GraphQL. Everybody is enthusiast about that shiny-new-Facebook technology because they lack communication skills and they hope that it will avoid that necessary conversation between developers on both ends. It will just add an extra layer of complexity.

That being said, I’ve been a long-time advocate of REST/hypermedia which is another way to avoid that discussion too. Today I’m more inclined to focus on a few pertinent scenarios. Maybe is it related to a change in my personality with more empathy for my peers? :-)

You don’t pay engineers to write code, you pay them to understand subtleties and edges of the problem. The code is incidental.

Ted Dziuba

★ Expatriation choisie

31 August, by David Larlet[ —]

si la Terre est ronde, c’est afin que personne ne reste dans son coin. Aussi, personne ne devrait se sentir exotique nulle part. Et pourtant, pour tout immigrant quelconque, c’est bien le sentiment d’étrangeté qui prédomine. L’autre est toujours étrange ; mais quand on s’installe ailleurs, c’est soi qui devient l’autre.

Vivre le Québec libre, Hubert Mansion

Il est difficile de quitter son pays. Autant pour les aspects sociaux et culturels qu’identitaires. Le plus dur n’est pas tant de vider sa maison que de laisser la place pour d’autres relations, d’autres références et d’autres capacités d’adaptation et donc de redéfinition de soi. Arpenter sans dénaturer. Comparer sans juger. Échanger sans convaincre. Explorer sans se perdre.

En contrepartie de cela, les faits divers quotidiens me confortent dans mon choix et ce même en maintenant une diète d’information assez stricte. Le fait de continuer à lire Twitter malgré tout n’aide pas, peut-être une étape de plus à franchir prochainement dans ma déconnexion avec la France.

Il y a une certaine lâcheté à quitter le navire au moment où chaque action semble faire osciller la balance. Cependant, je souhaite profondément accompagner un enfant dans des conditions où ne prédominent pas la haine et la violence à l’égard de la différence. Un lieu qui soit bienveillant sans être aseptisé pour autant. L’équation est complexe.

Demain l’avion décolle vers un inconnu plein de vitalité, de nouvelles rencontres et d’expériences hasardeuses. Avec trois valises (et un vélo) pour tout bagage. L’occasion de réacquérir une certaine légèreté et de reconsidérer l’approche minimaliste.

★ L’illusion sociale

28 July, by David Larlet[ —]

Semblables à ces chrétiens qui parlent indéfiniment de Dieu, du christianisme et de leur foi, parce que s’ils s’arrêtaient de parler, ils se trouveraient devant un vide immense, nous parlons sans fin de politique pour couvrir inconsciemment le vide de la situation. […] Le progrès, c’est recevoir cette extrême puissance, cette part mythique d’une souveraineté théorique qui consiste à se déposséder de ses décisions au profit de quelqu’un qui les prendra à votre place. Le progrès, c’est lire le journal.


Celui qui dans notre société se tient sur la réserve, ne participe pas aux élections, tient les débats politiques et les changements de constitution pour superficiels et sans véritable prise sur les véritables problèmes de l’homme, celui qui sait bien que la guerre d’Algérie l’atteint dans sa chair ou celle de ses enfants, mais ne croit pas que déclarations, motions et votes y changeront quoi que ce soit, celui-là sera jugé le plus sévèrement par tous. C’est le véritable hérétique de nos jours. Et la société l’excommunie comme l’Église médiévale le sorcier. Il est un pessimiste, un stupide (car il ne voit pas les relations très profondes et secrètes du jeu politique), un défaitiste qui se courbe devant la fatalité, un mauvais citoyen : assurément si tout va mal, c’est à cause de lui, car s’il faisait preuve de civisme, le votre serait valorisé (il ne suffit pas de 80 % de votants, non, il faut 100 % !) et la démocratie serait effective ! Les jugements pleuvent sur lui, autant jugements d’efficacité, que jugements moraux, et même psychologiques (car l’apolitique est forcément un paranoïaque ou schizophrène). Enfin, condamnation dernière en notre temps ; ce ne peut être qu’un réactionnaire.

L’illusion politique par Jacques Ellul.

Là où la religion avait une portée internationale, la politique se restreignait déjà au niveau national et le social réduit encore davantage les ambitions humaines en se limitant à un groupe local faussement distribué par les réseaux sociaux. On ne lit plus les journaux pour faire de la politique, on dépile ses timelines pour interagir socialement.

Des réseaux entre privilégiés qui conspuent d’autres privilégiés, qui s’apitoient sur la misère du monde avec des milliers de like et de retweets en la piétinant par ailleurs. Ivre d’un effet de masse sans aucune incidence si ce n’est celui d’avoir créé une nouvelle profession, celle de community manager.

Très superficiellement l’homme moderne désire être informé de la dernière actualité parce qu’elle est une source de prestige incontestable dans un groupe. Pouvoir annoncer aux autres ce qu’ils ignorent, entrer dans ce personnage légendaire du porteur de nouvelles, être celui qui a la supériorité d’être mieux informé, et plus encore celui qui détient un secret, qu’il va transmettre à d’autres, attendant leur réaction, attendant leur surprise, avec cette distance possible de celui qui sait, et qui par là même peut mettre en question ceux qui ne savent pas encore. Quelle affirmation de maîtrise ! Dans un monde avide de nouvelles comme le nôtre, être celui qui sait et qui transmet est une participation aux forces souveraines, c’est pourquoi l’homme actuel cherche à être le premier informé.

L’illusion politique par Jacques Ellul.

Ce que Jacques Ellul décrivait en 1965 n’a finalement fait l’objet que d’une amplification liée à la mise en réseau à une échelle plus large permise par le Web. Une gigantesque captation d’attention en guise d’intelligence collective, chacun essayant d’être le porteur de nouvelles de ses communautés. C’est l’une des raisons pour laquelle j’ai arrêté de publier quotidiennement cette année.

Quelles faiblesses veut-on cacher via cette recherche de supériorité ? Quel manque social nous pousse à en chercher ailleurs ? Quel lien familial brisé souhaite-t-on remplacer ?

Il y a peut-être abus à parler de « transmission horizontale » pour parler de cette puissante force de socialisation des jeunes qui semble aujourd’hui faire obstacle à la transmission : la socialisation par les pairs ou par les moyens de communication de masse. Il faudra en revanche aborder la véritable nature de cet obstacle supposé, car il est partie prenante du sentiment de « crise de la transmission ». Peut-on dire, comme cela se répète à l’envi dans les travaux contemporains, que nous sommes passés de la transmission verticale à la transmission horizontale, autrement dit « des pères aux pairs » ? L’importance accordée à la socialisation par les pairs contribue à maintenir dans l’ombre le rôle de la transmission familiale.

Transmettre, apprendre par Marie-Claude Blais, Marcel Gauchet et Dominique Ottavi.

Ces deux formes — pair-à-pair vs. (p|m)ère-à-fil(s|le) — sont-elles vraiment complémentaires alors que l’attention est limitée par le temps ? Les membres de la famille deviennent-ils des pairs comme les autres ?

Après avoir monétisé l’attention, on s’en prend aujourd’hui à l’occupation. Pokémon GO n’est que le début d’une perte de l’être avec vers celle du faire avec. L’intermédiaire social est loin d’être neutre dans cette relation guidée par une main invisible qui a des impacts bien réels.

J’ai déjà parlé de l’épuisement des colibris, en monétisant l’occupation on passe un cap dans notre incapacitation à agir ensemble à des fins bien supérieures à celles du profit. En jouant sur les affects joyeux intrinsèques (cache) chers à Frédéric Lordon, on n’enrôle plus seulement la force de travail des salariés mais celle de toute la population ce qui représente une main — qui soutient un smartphone — d’œuvre gratuite bien plus conséquente.

Ce manque de bien commun tangible conduit à des super-structures violentes et sans âme. L’État est une SCOP qui a mal tournée. C’est le passage à l’échelle de ce qui ne peut passer à cette échelle auquel cas le lien social s’en trouve rompu.

Confondre communication et relation serait extrêmement préjudiciable à la reconquête d’un temps réel, convivial et solidaire, dont des êtres de plus en plus nombreux ressentent la nécessité vitale. Un lien social tangible dans la sphère de vie de chacune et de chacun de nous ne peut être aboli sans un immense préjudice. Les outils de la communication, de la commande à distance et de l’information auront toujours une grande mémoire, mais jamais de souvenirs. Renforcent-ils les liens sociaux, ou ne font-ils que connecter des solitudes ?

Vers la sobriété heureuse, Pierre Rabhi

Je me pose de plus en plus la question. Le nuage se remplit chaque jour un peu plus de nos relations sans pour autant nous faire profiter de la pluie de souvenirs associés. Les échanges deviennent aussi éphémères que les réflexions qui en découlent.

Observez vos dernières notifications (ou flatulences numériques comme j’aime les nommer maintenant tant elles sont dérangeantes pour l’entourage), combien se rapportent à un individu, combien se rapportent à une entreprise, combien enfin décrivent une action ou une réflexion collective ? Le lien social numérique n’est qu’une suite de micro-interactions décousues qui ne peut mener au vivre ensemble. Un réseau social ne peut survivre sans des échanges longs.

Le lien social existe toujours, voire même davantage avec l’arrivée du numérique, qui permet des rencontres inattendues. Les algorithmes font des suggestions, qui peuvent être pertinentes et intéressantes, mais que l’on n’est pas obligé de suivre. Il n’y a aucune obligation à être sur Facebook, et encore moins à en faire sa principale porte d’entrée sur le web (je le déconseille même fortement). La construction de la pensée ne s’y fait pas, même si c’est un canal de diffusion non négligeable.

Pour penser la "disruption" numérique, il faut y plonger (cache)

Qu’est-ce qu’un lien social si ce n’est co-construire de la pensée ? Est-ce que le divertissement suffit vraiment à certaines personnes ? Quelles addictions viennent combler ce vide de sens ? C’est ce qui me semble être une illusion sociale bien orchestrée.

En refusant ces services, je me marginalise. De manière militante et volontaire même si cela m’affecte de ne plus participer à certaines discussions. Je me retire d’un espace de vie qui est passé du PMU aux Galeries Lafayette. Et je ne parle même pas de la surveillance associée (cache).

L’émergence de ce qu’on appelle le web 2.0 fut à la fois une idéologie et une stratégie d’accumulation du capital : il a promis de nouveaux profits énormes, ce qui a permis d’attirer de nouveaux investisseurs financiers. Il a promis un Internet participatif de « prosommateurs », une publicité de plus en plus ciblée et une exploitation du travail numérique accrue à travers le crowdsourcing, qui a vu son heure de gloire dans le soi-disant « nouveau réseau (new web) ». Google et Facebook ne sont pas des entreprises de communication mais les plus grandes agences publicitaires du monde. Les « réseaux sociaux », c’est de la publicité ciblée.

Internet et lutte des classes (cache)

Le problème n’est pas tant que les fins soient lucratives mais ce que les personnes en capacité de décider sont prêtes à faire pour augmenter cette rentabilité. L’opinion publique semble être très facile à manipuler lorsqu’on a une telle force de frappe. Peut-être l’avons-nous déjà été à notre insu sous couvert d’un bug dans une mise à jour algorithmique.

As one colleague in tech explained it to me recently, for most people working on such projects, the goal is basically to provide for themselves everything that their mothers no longer do.

Solving All the Wrong Problems (cache)

Peut-être qu’un jour les trentenaires en manque d’affection et d’attention n’essayeront plus de recréer leur Mother-as-a-Service. Peut-être que les entrepreneurs qui ne rêvent que d’impact et d’échelle se rendront compte que l’on peut diversifier les impacts en restant à petite échelle et en liant les externalités positives générées. Peut-être que les citoyens prendront conscience qu’un faire commun n’est pas une urne. Peut-être qu’il faut dépasser la relation sociale pour aller vers une relation locale multi-directionnelle.

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