The use of digital information and communication technologies would be the traces of a social acceptability of the exploitation of all data, in the context of negotiations of uses. This is the reason why the users present themselves actors and contributors of the hyperconnectivity.
We would thus witness a new form of dissemination, inviting user experience and social innovations. It is thus the victory of subordination by negotiated renunciation; A new form of serving, no longer that of the 1980s, with the counters and other services, which have become uncontrolled services - excepted when the users are overcome by restrictive ergonomics, revealing too much the subordination device - which joins the prescription apparently without an injunction.
The lure is at its height when users and broadcasters come together to produce the services and goods, composing the business model, until the very existence of the companies, in particular the pure players. Crowdsourcing becomes legitimate: consumers create the content, deliver the data, the basis of the service sold (in a painless way because free access most of the time, indirect financing), the providers make available and administer the service, networks , Interfaces (representing considerable costs), also reputation to attract the attention of other consumers or contributors.
In these conditions, the environmental stakes are considerable, so we propose another way of considering them, not as they are dealt with - material and pollution - but according to the prism of the relational practices analyzed in this volume.
The Hyperconnected Economy
The global success of connection services by computer and telecommunication networks is explained by the free nature of this network of networks. With the Internet, everything is free, or almost free. Some start from the principle that Internet users pay with their time, the time they spend browsing to access content. While we must clarify, as it will be seen below, many nuances and while the cost-free factor is important, it is not sufficient to explain a massive and globalized diffusion in such a short time. The attractiveness of uses should also be considered: it cannot be denied that the seduction and appeal of the services offered encourage interactivity and auto-production of the most diverse content ("user generated content"). Hence, every Internet user can be both a receiver and a transmitter; they are capable of designing, publishing and even editing content. This also explains this success, not to mention the significant and unprecedented proliferation of amateur content. To fully appreciate this mass diffusion, we need to shed light on the underlying socioeconomic model. The proposed approach considers that it is necessary to remember the role of Homo economicus, while taking Homo socius and Homo communicus seriously, which is not the case in most economic approaches. We believe that the combination of three factors contributes to the functioning of this model of connection: a mode of access and use, two modes of indirect funding and a mode of activation by request. These modes will now be analyzed, one by one.
2.1. A free mode of access and use
Free access is associated with most applications, and most content available on the Internet, to such a point that the term "free access economy" was coined. For Chris Anderson, the reason is that any Internet activity has almost no production or (especially) distribution costs. "The new industrial revolution"1 would come from this tendency. Jeremy Rifkin perceives, in the emergence of the new society with zero marginal cost, a way to eclipse capitalism2. While it is true that the production and distribution costs are almost zero, it is not certain, as Rifkin claims, that this will eclipse capitalism. Actually, the opposite assumption could be made, that nowadays free access is at the heart of capitalism and could strengthen it, or at least guide it toward new forms.
If applications, services and in many cases content are free for the end user, they must invest in the purchase of a device (micro-computer, notebook, tablet, smartphone, etc.), to access it and take out a contract with a telecommunication operator who provides Internet access. If it seems free to the end user, it is because the cost does not depend on the time spent using it, but more often on a package. There is therefore no single billing which reflects the number of connections and the time spent on the network.
Free access in the digital universe will become important to the point of becoming the norm. Is this an unusual situation? Has there been any precedent? And if so, when did this free access emerge? This section will attempt to answer these questions.
First of all, it is useful to recall that the Internet developed, as seen previously, outside of the market economy. As Patrice Flichy rightly points out, with free access and cooperation at the heart of Internet culture, market exchange was prohibited. Richard Barbrook even stressed the "anarcho-communist" character of this network (Barbrook, 2000, pp. 55-76). For a long time, as Flichy (2001, p. 223) points out, free Internet access did not give rise to debate; it went without saying:
"Some IT professionals who bathed [.] in the tradition of university's openness and freedom were the first to theorize, in the 1980s, the principles of cooperation and exchange which were the basis of the Internet. Their thinking was to initiate the free software utopia, laying the foundations for an alternative economic theory".
In this context, resistance movements against certain entrepreneurial and mercantile deviations began to emerge and sought to protect software through patent application or legal measures. The free software movement illustrates this perfectly. By making source codes available, hackers opposed the exclusive ownership of software by computer companies. Other movements were based on the principle that information had to be free and shared by all. The development of Wiki3, an online cooperation tool for web page creation and edition within a group of Internet users (a community), is another example. The free online encyclopedia Wikipedia co-produced by Internet users has dealt a fatal blow to traditional encyclopedia publishers. The practice of musical files exchange over "peer-to-peer" (P2P) to promote the circulation of cultural productions are also part of the same line of thinking. Undeniably, the network of networks has been a place of confrontation between the free access logic and the commercial logic. Peer-to-peer could also be regarded among the first darknets4.
Next, the case of French style telematics should be mentioned. During the 1980s, when mainstream telematics was being rolled out, France Telecom (which was a public authority at the time) gave away free Minitels to households to promote access to paid services offered via Videotex in order to reap financial revenues from the connections. This meant that in 1989, 16% of households had a Minitel and only 8.2% a personal computer5. It should be recalled that Teletex access costs depended on the added value of the service (36-13, 36-14, 36-15, etc.), on the distance and on the length of connection. It is the socioeconomic model of the meter which prevailed and not the package subscription. The longer the connection, the higher the cost. By analyzing the diffusion of telematics, Kevin G. Wilson showed, as early as 1988, that with each connection, the operators in return scooped information on the practices and behaviors of individuals. Therefore, in addition to the payment by users of access to telematics services, there was, in addition, the collection of detailed information on the habits and behavior of individuals who used the services6. This information could then be used by the companies for marketing purposes or possibly be sold to other service suppliers. This author even considers that the information collected could ensure the sustainability and profitability of telematics. This has not been the case in France and in many countries, despite the proactive policy pursued by the French public authorities to promote the development of Videotex publishers and the setting up of databases. The supply has not really met the demand. Videotex in France developed, in fact, around two main applications: information and transactions, and leisure uses (adult chat, games). While the deployment of French telematics has helped encourage the development of a marketing approach, the diffusion of mobile telephony leads then to usage marketing (Carré and Panico, 1997, pp. 241-249). The identification of the uses is then used to facilitate the rapid market entry of new products and services7. Since it was hard for telematics to find a mainstream market, the arrival of the Internet put an end to its deployment.
It is important to consider the case of the SpiralFrog platform which, in partnership with Universal Music, made a first attempt as early as 2006, offering North American Internet users free access to its musical catalog in exchange for 90 seconds of advertising. In return, the user could download a free piece of music. This was of course a major company's attempt to put an end to the endemic decrease in revenue from CD sales despite the implementation of legal downloads, all the while fighting the exchange of music files via P2P platforms. The approach had attracted other major companies (EMI, Sony BMG, etc.) to fight Napster, the first site to encourage Internet users to share their musical files.
Widening this investigation to the media reveals that radio, television and even the press have used free access on many occasions. This free content provision is carried mainly by advertising revenue. It is a classic, well-known funding model in these sectors. In order to give listeners and viewers free access, media outlets sell advertisers the possibility of broadcasting their advertising. The price is determined by the audience level. As for the programs (i.e. the content), according to economist Dallas Smythe, their only purpose is to recruit a potential audience and to keep their attention. This approach has been used and reformulated in a more pragmatic and blunt manner by Patrick Le Lay (The Associates of EIM, 2004); the President Director General of the audiovisual group TF1 indicates: "What we sell to Coca-Cola, is available human brain time." This model, which was used by private TV and radio stations in the United States of America, was exported during the second half of the 20th Century and became dominant in Europe and beyond. The principle set out by this economist was that in contemporary capitalism, the audience is the product in the area of communications (Smythe, 1977). The aim of a channel is thus to maximize its audience. It is the same in the press for free daily newspapers (Metro, 20 Minutes) distributed or made available in train stations, underground stations or other public spaces.
Finally, it can also be recalled that a significant...