The liquid society

How digitalisation is changing the world and people

In only a few decades the economy and society have been digitized. Every citizen can know at any time what is happening anywhere in the world and is online 24/7. All this has enormous effects on the way in which societies function. No longer is the physical world of everyday life (the baker, the farmer) the most important. But the digital world is actually the world in which more and more people are literally working and partly living. A digital layer has been spread over, as it were, the classical world. Which connects everything with everything and thereby also creates “short circuits” in the classical society.

Too little is being realized by policymakers, entrepreneurs and politicians that the new digital world is becoming a (lawless) own world that literally turns everything upside down in the classical world. But: just like the classical society, also the digital world should be governed. Because otherwise the consequences for society can be very large and perhaps disastrous. In the meantime, the various digital worlds, including those of cyber crime, seem to be increasing their grip on the physical world.

In countless columns (in particular CIO-Magazine), articles and in my book “The Liquid Society” (order: Futuro publishers) I try to make clear that classical “solutions” do not work for the digitized society. The digital world must have its own control mechanisms, including a Digital Rule of Law. Data and privacy must be sufficiently protected internationally and cyber crime and digital attacks by governments must be tackled internationally. We have national and international laws and regulations for all physical infrastructures (telecommunications, train, traffic, etc.). Virtually nothing has been arranged for the most important new infrastructure, the digital one.

The digital transformation of the industrial into a digital society must be actively, seriously and intensively managed with concrete policy plans, just as the digital transformation of an organization must be managed. If not, serious social accidents might to happen, such as high unemployment and disadvantaged situations for certain groups, out-of-control migration flows, increasing tensions due to the rise of autocratic and populist leadership, sharper contrasts between regions and the like. It is high time for politicians and policymakers to work on other administrative models to ensure that the transition to a digital society runs smoothly.

On this website I regularly post articles about what is happening on the way towards The Liquid Society. Placed on the long list of management books of the year 2017.

The Liquid Society. ISBN: 9789492221742   Order? Go to  futurouitgevers  or order at , or 1boek


Peter Hagedoorn is trained as a physics engineer and has followed a career in which he has worked alternately for the public sector and business. He worked for Shell, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Bull-Netherlands, RAET, Hagemeyer and Océ. He was also Director of the Millennium Platform that was led by Jan Timmer. He was also the first chairman of the CIO-Platform Nederland, in which capacity he was also on the Board of the European CIO Association. He was later appointed Secretary General of this organization.