January 9, 2022


There is a word french speakers use which is dématérialisation.

This word (for some people) conveys the idea that by replacing existing infrastructures with digital ones, there will be less materials.

For example, RATP, the company running Paris metro system, is switching to plastic (magnetic) cards and asking travellers to use a mobile application - and ditch the paper tickets.

Beyond undermining the agency of users1, RATP justifies the move in the name of dématérialisation.

On its website, RATP writes that the time it takes for a ticket to desintegrate on the street is: one year (maybe a bit longer, I found some other sources saying two years.)

Not too bad I’d say (but obviously not a reason to litter!).

RATP omits to tell that dématérialisation, that is plastic cards, smartphones (and servers) - in other words digitalisation, comes with this:

Post dématérialisation Post dématérialisation

Last word.

If RATP really wants to think of de-matérialisation - and actually remove materials, - not to replace paper tickets with some other infrastructures. They can remove turnstiles - we think of Berlin’s honor system with no turnstiles (and paper tickets):

Berlin's metro entrance with no turnstile - credit: Ilya Birman

However, for now, Paris’s dematerialised metro entrances looks like this:

Paris's metro gated turnstiles

  1. which is the underlying question - see homepage https://yctct.com↩︎


I do self-funded research and I'm writing a book.

> What's the book about?

About technologies and epistemology.

Meaning, technologies can foster agency. No doubt. But I am also asking:

Can technologies make us blind?

I posted a summary of the prologue on the homepage: https://yctct.com/


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