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Lovelock with Berners-Lee

A few days ago I read an interview for the 101st birthday of William Lovelock. Lovelock points out that he made his Gaia hypothesis not as a scientist but as an engineer. He has, I understand, been involved with measurement and control techniques and has therefore studied the Earth as a self-regulating system.

A little later I came across a somewhat older lecture by Tim Bernes-Lee through Teodora : Hypertext and Our Collective Destiny. Berners-Lee also has a global perspective, and he too sees himself as an engineer, not a theorist. In the lecture, Berners-Lee asks how to use the web, and especially how to use its core, the link, in such a way that it serves to connect humanity more closely. The opposite of this, which Berners-Lee calls

link - $

has been accepted so far. Unfortunately, this formula also describes what links and content are mostly used for in content strategy.

At the moment the question of what content strategy for degrowth might look like is behind everything I write. I like the engineering approach to content. I wonder if content strategy for degrowth could be understood as the development of content that is used to ensure that the web is used as well as possible to realize an economy and society within the planetary boundaries. That would be the alternative model to content strategy for economic growth, where content is used to make companies as profitable as possible. User experience is equally important for both.

What is crucial here is the linking of content, which is only one aspect of connecting the people (and other actors) who use content. This linking facilitates cooperative action, i.e. to cooperatively achieve Earth Stewardship, which mankind needs if it wants to preserve its civilization. This kind of cooperation has been realized in science and software development. In a degrowth economy, it needs to be geared toward collaborative control of material flows, allowing the environment to regenerate itself rather than being exploited.

What is the connection between the macro-level (Earth system, World Wide Web) and the micro-level of the individual users or actors? Tim Berners-Lee uses the metaphor of fractals: The same structures are repeated in ascending order from the micro level to the macro level. For a life within the limits of the earth, Bruno Latour has proposed to take stock of what the actors need for their lives and to shape society through negotiations based on the networks resulting from these stock-takings. Berners-Lee’s metaphor and Latour’s proposal are certainly under-complex, but at least they open up possibilities for thought. It is precisely at this level that content strategy for degrowth would come into play. It would, together with other practices, contribute to the exchange and reflection of information and thus to the cooperation necessary for a post-growth society at all levels.

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