Mottoes matter. Long before soundbites and tweets, they encapsulated the priorities of their adopters. Long before the Internet, the most famous claimed world wide reach. Compared to the revolutionary “Liberty, equality, fraternity,” my motto may seem a modest mimic. Do not confuse the modesty of its author with its intrinsic value. “Privacy, identity, responsibility” must become the motto of the Information Age if our modernity is not to dissolve into a failed society.
A good motto generates controversy. My demands for instance run contrary to a general human tendency to flee from responsibilities. How quickly indeed people shift their moral burden onto technology itself, turning from the “yes, we can” of aspirations into a “since we can, we may” of evasions.
John Gapper timely reminds us that technology bears no responsibility for the way it is used. “The events in Iran tempt us to view digital technology as a purely liberating force”, he writes, “but do not count out [its] repressive uses”. Twitter has indeed become a communication tool for “opposition sympathisers”, as Najmeh Bozorgmehr reports from Teheran. Yet a more lasting lesson is how the stakes keep rising.
Read more of Philippe Coueignoux’s essay on AdmiNet cawa.