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The conference I gave at the SPRU Freeman Friday Seminars at the University of Sussex (stirring quite a bit of controversy)
In the last few years, our societies have been confronted to a new kind of problems. Our planet – once so vast and unexplored – seems to have shrunk around us constraining our actions with its multiple ecological and economical fragilities. Welcome to the Anthropocene! After centuries spent in trying to rule the world, we suddenly realize how tiny is our kingdom and, as the air fill with CO2, how suffocating is its atmosphere. What’s worse, we find ourselves utterly unprepared to deal with the situation we have created. The more we strive to force the knots we tied, the more they seem to tighten around us. The knots that hold us cannot be slashed, but (and it’s our only hope) they might be untied. The fabric of our natural and social interdependencies is complex, but not impenetrable. And this is where social sciences may help, by hijacking one of the strongest forces of modernization (the proliferation of digital inscriptions) and turning it into a source of understanding. Turning inscriptions into traces, and following them as threads through the maze of collective life, we can try to unfold the complexity of our small world and learn to live with it.