The internet is still scary, but contemporary life is a precise overlap of digital and analog. To each the choice of how to design it

Feelings towards digital are mixed, to say the least. It is one of those issues against which the traditional categories of thought are dramatically obsolete, because in fact the question has not yet been resolved to face the question from a humanistic point of view. And although there is a lot of talk about the digital mindset, few are really the pioneers of a new way of living. The internet is a machine, so it's dangerous. We believe in a technological imaginary that dates back to the 1950s, in which nothing without a conscience is really a friend. A scenario that inhabits the fantasies of parents worried about their digital native children. Or that feeds dreams of digital detox and remote destinations where the internet does not reach. The reality is that digital has improved the quality of life of the entire planet and, above all, has made everyone more free.

An autonomy of action and a creative possibility that Mafe De Baggis, who has been dealing with digital for thirty years, describes in the book Libera il futuro, quindici lezioni dal digitale per migliorare il nostro mondo (Free the future, fifteen lessons from digital to improve our world), published by Enrico Damiani Editore in December 2020. A project born shortly before the start of the pandemic, which brings together thirty years of experience in the network, in media marketing and digital communication. “It is not a manual and it is a much less technical book than the ones I have already written. My experiences and many years of workshops and teamwork in companies have convinced me that the best results come when professional and personal life are mixed”. It is in the sphere of desires and the drive for change that creativity explodes, a skill that many think they do not have or do not know how to use.

“The Internet makes us freer, lighter. It opens the doors, it puts the world in front of us. The big misconception is to think that the computer is an alienating machine that denies the human, that robots and artificial intelligence transform us into links in an assembly line. But it is exactly the opposite. It is a tool that can be used to multiply the choices and the possibilities to do what one wants”. According to Mafe De Baggis, the great misunderstanding about the alleged alienating action of machines was fueled by the dissemination of contradictory information. Books, articles, films and documentaries say everything and the opposite of everything. But above all they tend to want to demonstrate that digital is a sleeping monster, if not a refined manipulative tool.

“There is a bad internet. You can see it on social media, when news or opinions from influencers are deliberately used to feed fears and prejudices. The antidote is to know, to know what is happening. It is useful to know, for example, that Facebook and Netflix compete for public attention. So it is not surprising that a documentary film like The Social Dilemma passes through a super partes journalistic investigation” explains Mafe De Baggis. The solution to the information puzzles is to adopt a humanistic approach, and leave the technicians out of the good / bad dialectic for a moment. “We need a technological, not an IT approach”.

Is digital another plague of modernity? Better to ask the philosophers, those who deal with souls and emotions, the experts in ideals, utopias and, above all, desires. Because Libera il futuro speaks above all of this. How to wish, how to operate in reality to build lives that resemble us humans of the twenty-first century. Revolutionary, new, inspiring existences. Let's learn from who the internet has used it as the tool it really is. People who started from an idea, from a generative intuition. Creativity serves to manifest what does not exist, not to adapt.

“My job is to teach you how to use digital to change your mental processes. I always work with creative people, who, however, fail to see in the means available to them an invitation to use them in a personal way. To put your own. Social, for example, works when you work. There is no secret recipe, apart from yourself”. So what prevents you from taking the opportunity to be and do what you want? “It is convenient to think that nothing can change because we are victims of circumstances. But this historic moment is ideal for even inventing how to use technology. After digital literacy, we need creative literacy. The problem is that all this puts us in front of the freedom to manifest and express ourselves. A possibility that is terrifying” concludes Mafe. 

We are fragile, we know little, we cannot imagine the future in a few months. But we can decide to be fast or slow, digital or analog. Certainly the existence of these times is an undeniable overlap of both.


Cover photo, Pipilotti Rist, Cinquante Fifty. Ph. Courtesy Castello di Rivoli.