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"Netocracy was a term invented by the editorial board of the American technology magazine Wired in the early 1990s. A portmanteau of Internet and aristocracy, netocracy refers to a perceived global upper-class that bases its power on a technological advantage and networking skills, in comparison to what is portrayed as a bourgeoisie of a gradually diminishing importance.

The concept was later picked up by the Swedish philosophers Alexander Bard and Jan Söderqvist for their book Netocracy — The New Power Elite and Life After Capitalism (originally published in Swedish in 2000 as Nätokraterna - boken om det elektroniska klassamhället, published in English by Reuters/Pearsall UK in 2002).

The netocracy concept has been compared with Richard Florida's concept of the creative class. Bard and Söderqvist have also defined an under-class in opposition to the netocracy, which they refer to as the consumtariat." (


David de Ugarte et al.:

“The first ones to talk about the "netocracy" were the Swedes Alexander Bard and Jan Soderqvist. They have interesting biographies. The former is a professor at the Stockholm School of Economics, a musician and the founder of the main Swedish record company. The latter is an essay writer and cinema producer.

They took their thesis from Pekka Himanen (the author of The Hacker Ethic) and other sociologists such as Manual Castells. Capitalism will be followed by a new social and economic order: informationalism, whose dawn we are currently experiencing. In parallel – and this is their main contribution – while in previous social systems the nobility and bourgeoisie played the main roles, in the new one the main players will be netocrats, a new social class defined by their capacity of relating to and arranging global networks. It is a social class defined not so much by its power over the production system as by its leadership over the consumption of mass members of social networks.

Bard and Soderqvist not only created the term and the concept, they also provided Himanen's hackers with a step beyond in time and influence. Netocrats are hackers who have not integrated into the establishment and salary workers, and who have managed to achieve -- normally using the internet in some way or the other – a state of economic independence and personal freedom. Their netocrats are hackers who have a real political and economic influence. They are technophile microentrepreneurs, creative social innovators, the local heroes of the knowledge society.

Netocrats inherit from hackers their conception of time, money, and work, a time which is no longer measured by the stopwatch or the working day. Their work is creative, their time flexible. They think in the midterm, and do not measure their time in hours but in projects. In their lives, leisure and work become one in terms of pleasure and intellectual challenge. Working time is no longer an opposite and separate non-life, made contingent by a barrier of working days and salaries.

Netocrats express themselves in what they do. They live out their selves, and are paid in terms of intellectual and social recognition once they attain the monetary income that allows them to devote themselves exclusively to their own selfexpression. In the same way as their time and work are not kept in watertight sections, neither are their personal relationships. They work with whomever they wish; it work are life are not opposed to each other, how can hackers draw distinctions between personal and working relationships? Netocrats want to experience relationships, maximise their enjoyment value. In exchange, they offer accessibility to their being, not right of property over their time or physical location. What matters is the flow generated by the relationship, not its capitalisation by turning it into a stock.

A projection of its social being, the political ideal underlying the netocracy is no other than a metaphor of perfect competition. The maximum degree of decision power over oneself, the absence of coercing power over others. This is the essence of netocratic libertarianism, the nature of networks, reluctant to accept any explicit complex legal system which goes beyond netiquette.

They are, in brief, the creative stars of the post-industrial society. But unlike their older siblings (star publicists, designers, architects, etc.), they do not work in creative substitutes of industrial factories. They flaunt their independence; they do not hold wealth as a symbol of power, but rather equate it with their network. This is the kind of people who can live alongside each other within an academic or freeware community, and then obtain what they need from the packing and sale of the product created in common or from customisation. This is the kind of people who gift music online in order to get more gigs or who write copyleft books in order to give conferences and obtain an agenda afterwards: hackers who measure the worth of their work not in terms of direct income, but of their capacity to generate relationships. The netocracy started to take shape at some point in the nineties, linked to the first internet opportunities, creation, and small technology consultancy markets.

The emergence of the network society allowed netocrats to marginally creep into mass media, at the same time as their virtual networks took advantage of the general growth of the web and the number of private connections to the internet. The turn of the century found them hardened by the information society wars, moving along, and the owners of their own destiny. They are the electronic explorers of a trans-nationalised world which knows neither territories nor capitals.

Netocracy, the pioneers of that informationalised and de-territorialised life, is located in metropolis. And not by chance. Information society rewards flow as opposed to stock, the capacity to relate and exchange over bureaucratic power.

For authors such as Castells, Ohmae, or de Landa, in the network capitalism which now heralds the birth of informationalism is in many senses similar to the trade capitalism from the time of the Italian city states and the Aragonese Mediterranean expansion. In fact, not only their metropolises live again, but also the networks which they once formed. Nowadays we see how a new Hanseatic League is emerging in the Baltic which knows no national borders and trades more within itself than with its respective States. The appearance of a Padanian nationalism is also read by many as the result of the network development of cities in Northern Italy since the second half of the seventies, a development which seems to look northwards rather than seawards.

Reluctant with regard to capital cities, netocracy identity knows no nationalism. Its power derives not from the national homogenisation of a territory locked within borders, but from the differentials of knowledge and value established in networks. The more heterogeneous the network, the more powerful its associated netocracy. A child of globalisation, it demands space and right of way.

It doesn't care about the countryside except as a landscape, as a leisure option. That's why it has reinvented the rural territory as a theme park from the past, a productive landscape. Rural tourism tastefully managed by small players, a virtuoso exercise in virtual reality or roleplay.

That's why it separates the State from national identity and bets on larger freerange spaces as it demands power for the cities. As a new class in conflict with the bourgeoisie and distinct from it, it does not flee cities or fears living alongside immigrants. It occupies the old degraded inner cities and reindustrialises and pedestrianises them. It prefers bikes to cars and trams to tube. Its natural environment is a diversity theme park; open-air cafes and open spaces are their true business centres. It trusts in safety, but knows its own instability; for a change of scenery, netocrats will flee at a low cost to the next network node. Netocracyknows itself to be desired, and allows politicians to woo it.” (