Is there really an old and a new world?

Many debates on the opposition between a new and an old world. Whether we are talking about business, companies, society or politics, the opposition between so-called new and old worlds is omnipresent.

This is all the more true for people who are more technophiles or more open to the use of technology, who, even without understanding it, have come to understand that the cycle of obsolescence of both technologies and ideas is becoming shorter and shorter. Even if it means burning what they loved for the pleasure of praising novelty, regardless of whether the progress is real or not or, conversely, even if it means never doing anything because something new will come tomorrow.

Old versus new: reality or Manichean vision?

So of course it is obvious that today’s world has nothing to do with yesterday’s and that tomorrow’s world will be even different. Whether for better or for worse, whether we like it or not.

So of course there will always be people who cling to the status quo and others who will try to shatter it.

But is it that new?

As far as I can remember it has always been so and if the quarrel of the ancients against the modern has always existed it has never been as paroxysmal as it is today. Perhaps because before the dispute often focused on values or ways of thinking and today on these ways of acting, which makes things much more concrete. Maybe.

What characterizes the novelty is its radicality

Old and new worlds have always coexisted. We’ve always been in a changing world. There have always been people in the front guard, people in the back guard and people in the middle.

What changes is the radicality of the novelty, a term I like to steal from Cécil Dijoux’s book and which applies perfectly to the current situation even if not everything comes from the digital world (on the other hand, since digital is a way of life, its impact goes far beyond what we think). By radicality I mean two things.

The first is the extent of the leap between before and after, the extent of change. The second is the speed at which this change occurs.

So we still have people in front, we still have people behind, but with a larger gap than ever and finally less and less people in the middle.

When can we say that the change is accepted?

This can potentially be problematic and perhaps explains the violence of each world’s critics towards the other. When can we say we switched to the afterlife? That the change has taken place?

When it is achieved for 30% of the population? 50%? 75% ? If the rear guard becomes proportionally more and more important, isn’t there a risk for the elastic cracking? So that the dynamic of permanent change will stop and everyone will be stuck?

We could say “Too bad for the laggards, it will allow others to go faster”. Yes, but going faster to find yourself without competent employees or customers is a pity. Going faster if the social body no longer follows is embarrassing.

Nothing humanistic in my observation. Simply, when we build a new model (economic, organizational, social, social, societal, political…) we then need others to make it work otherwise it is useless. You might as well declare the independence of your garden or go and start a business on a desert island. If we do it it is to get it adopted by everyone, or at least by as many people as possible, otherwise it is useless, it does not work.

We’re all from the old world.

Some vehement (and almost perpetual) criticisms of the new world to the old world end up exasperating me with their Manichean position, especially when it comes to digital.

If we assume that we are in a world in constant change, everyone is part of both worlds at the same time, the question remains as to which degree. All the praiseers of the new world are by definition born in the old world and most of them can say thank you for the education they have received, the careers they have had there and so on. They would be hard for them to lead the way today without what the old world gave them.

So there is no point in criticizing and vilifying as I see it too much. Because at the end the old world will have joined the new, at that moment the new will become the new old, another vanguard will lead the change and it will be set out again for a turn.

Autant garder son énergie pour faire avancer les choses.

Et pour finir souvenons nous de ce qu’un passé très récent nous a appris.

It is better to keep one’ s energy to move things forward.

And finally, let us remember what a very recent past has taught us.

E-commerce was supposed to kill traditional commerce? We now realize that the real issue is to get them to work together.

Artificial intelligence was supposed to kill jobs? It is increasingly realistic to think that the issue is not so much the replacement of man by machine as the articulation of the two.

In short, it is time to stop thinking in binary terms and understand that the world we are in cannot be analysed in terms of “or” but in terms of “and”.


Photo : old vs new from iQoncept via Shutterstock

Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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