, Pty Ltd

Luís Ángel Fernández Hermana - @luisangelfh
29 May, 2018
Editorial: 206
Fecha de publicación original: 14 marzo, 2000

Wood that is used for wooden pegs cannot be polished

“This is all totally crazy”, “the bubble’s going to burst soon”, “the market’s gone mad”, “look at what’s happening in the US already”. These are just some of the things people are saying about the Internet these days. The constant flow of thousands of millions (in all currencies) to buy and sell companies of all shapes and sizes is the background music to this chorus. It’s almost as if the prawns you order as an aperitif in a bar might just turn into shares before your very eyes, or your olives into promising technological investments. It has got to the point where “experts” are, for the first time, publicly warning that there is a lot of hot air on sale, that some Internet companies being acquired at exorbitant prices don’t have that much to offer, nor are they that fundamental on the Net, nor do they necessarily give buyers an edge over their competitors. But since their competitors are flinging themselves headlong into the same frenzy, warnings of this kind have very little effect on the general state of enchantment. Given this state of affairs, the Net market is becoming more and more vertically structured in a wild race to fill shareholders’ purses, while down below things are happening which look set to become the pin that bursts the bubble.

Current euphoria on the Internet market in Spain and Latin America, largely sparked off by Telefonica and big banking, has yet to give rise to “Internet solutions” for situations and needs that we cannot deal with in the the real world. The basic objective of the acquisition and business integration policies of these corporations seems to be “customer lists” The longer they are, the more business there will be (because there isn’t any yet) in a future which insists on calling itself the present before its time. And the longer the lists of clients –or the greater the chance of being absorbed by any of these lists– the greater the upheavals on the stock exchange.

The results are there for all to see. We are witnessing young and exuberant markets, with over the top, youthful excesses of energy, searching for anything that moves with the slightest erotic charge, i.e. promises of being courted by operators, banks, venture capital, large consulting businesses, etc. It is not clear that there is business, real business, there at all. Nor do online services, real online services, that get us going in hot pursuit because there is no other way of doing things, abound. The gap between investment and content is still enormous. And all this despite the fact that we are about to witness another “big bang” with cell phones and “wireless” cable.

In the light of this epidemic delirium, one feels tempted to go along with the market flow. If what we are seeing is just a phase of copious excesses generated by speculative capital and if services on the Net will not become clearly defined until things have settled down, then maybe the best thing to do at the moment is get into the business of clearing the air. In other words, making sure that thousands of millions of dollars are spent as quickly as possible, encouraging the wild spending spree in the shortest time possible. Perhaps we should create, Pty Ltd, a consulting business for extravagant and wasteful spending. Come this way ladies and gentlemen, here we have two young boys with a wonderful data base selling mandarins on the Net! Don’t miss out on this great offer, a machine that lets you print out at home what is distributed by the postal service!

This way the dead wood will be cleared away as quickly as possible and the real Information Society can show its face. Perhaps then we will be able to work with the sectors and activities that make up its backbone, such as education, health, intelligent knowledge management, the organisation of daily –and business– life according to virtual logic, relationships between “natural allies” in the global context however local these may be, businesses tailored to personal needs and not just expressed in precooked menus, etc. This will mean the need for information and relationship systems, encounter technology where supply and demand come together for more than just buying and selling. In other words, platforms, that although they might already exist are hardly visible, but that will, undoubtedly, make up the backbone of the most varied and appropriate aspects of life in the Information Society.

In fact, this is already detectable in the contradictions that arise between the desire to organise the Net vertically on the basis of big money, on the one hand, and the constant flow of new internauts added to the maturing of existing ones, on the other. The result is that the parameters on which the Internet develops have to be constantly modified. If the population of the Internet was static, if they behaved like customers who made their choices on the basis of pre-established offers, such as happens in the real world to a large extent, all this present madness would make sense. And, if this is the case, we should all get involved in it as quickly as possible and get some kind of sheep-like qualification so that we can enjoy it.

However, the capacity of internauts to interact (as individuals, groups, organisations, companies, administrations, or simply as a bunch of ideas), and modify their own situations, the consequent volatility of their fidelity, the wide range of possibilities for forging alliances whether based on explicit interests or not, the multifaceted nature of their relationship with the Net, the way that as they mature they appreciate quality, in information, knowledge or the relationships they establish with those that share the same interests, the possibility of creating strong local identities within a global framework, etc., all introduce a rich element of chaos which is, after all, what shapes the virtual map. And these require online services specifically developed and thought out to aid and, as contradictory as it may sound, to organise this state of chaos in order for us to enjoy the degree of well-being that the Net can deliver.

If, in order to do this, we have to create “, Pty Ltd”, well then we should just get on and establish it. It would, after all, be a company imbued with the spirit of the Internet: its aim will be to help the “main players” along their chosen route as fast as possible and with enviable energy and, who knows, reach the heights of economic misery by wasting everyone else’s fortune.

We already know that this could be very dangerous and might shake the economy up so much that some of us may come crashing down with it as well. Nevertheless, I can’t think of any quicker way to cool down the rampant libido of some chief executive officers.

Translation: Bridget King