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Wishing You A Huggy 2018!

by Frank Buytendijk  |  December 28, 2017  |  Comments Off on Wishing You A Huggy 2018!

We live in times in which everything is a transaction, a contract, a sale. We learn to “sell” our ideas. We call something the “money” slide, when it represents the core of the matter. 

But is it the core of the matter? Is everything for sale? Aren’t there many things of which the value disappears when you try to buy it? To use the title of an excellent book by prof. Michael Sandel of Harvard University: are there moral limits to markets?

This year I moved with my family to the US for a few years. The support we have gotten from my employer (Gartner), the school, the neighbourhood, and our landlord has been invaluable. You can’t put a dollar-sign on it. We feel blessed with where we are and how we got there. 

But we also notice a few other things… The price of things, like a cup of coffee, or the price of gas, seems to depend on what neighbourhood you live, instead of the product or service that is delivered. Does then the product have value, or does only the neighbourhood have value?

On a larger scale, in the field of technology and society (the #digitalsociety), net neutrality is currently under discussion. The argument is that as a consumer you are not happy with how your provider services you, you just go somewhere else. The hand of the market doing its job. But is there intrinsic value to net neutrality?

Here’s the point: what is the one thing that is core to digital technology, and the #digitalsociety: being connected. While we are all busy working on our digital business case, it is easy to forget that being connected essentially is not a business model, but a human necessity. We are simply social beings. Paradoxically that makes connectivity the basis of every successful business model, and at the same time beyond the reach of any business model altogether.

I recently listened to a show of Tim Fransen, a Dutch philosopher and comedian. He made some excellent points, discussing the topic of “hugs”. Loosely translated:

“A hug is given, and received at the same time. There is no way of giving one, without getting one. There is also no such thing as a parasitic hug. That you try to get just a little bit more hug, than you give. It leads to less hug for both. A hug doesn’t allow itself to be reduced to a transaction. 

Let’s assume I will give you $10. And you give me $10 in return. We might as well not have conducted that transactions, as we can cross it out. But if I give you a hug, and in the process you give me one, it doesn’t work that way. Only when a hug is both given and received, there is such a thing as a hug. And if I send an invoice afterwards, the value of the hug is eroded.”

For those of you who have followed my research on digital connectivism and #digitalsociety, this probably won’t be a surprise. My wish for everybody in 2018 is deeply human in nature: connect! But place a little emphasis on the analog side of it. Hug. Not because you have to, but because you can. And may. 

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Frank Buytendijk
Distinguished VP and Gartner Fellow Emeritus
10 years at Gartner
23 years IT Industry

Frank Buytendijk covers Data and Analytics, Digital Ethics, #DigitalSociety and Futures Impact. He is also the co-lead of Gartner's Maverick program, the company's incubator for unconventional research. Read Full Bio

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