This November gave me the opportunity to give talks and participate in scientific events throughout Québec.
I started in Montréal, with a seminar at ComSanté, the health communication research centre of Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), where I presented my recently published book on websites on eating disorders. While most media attention focused on controversial “pro-anorexia” contents, presented as an undesirable effect of online free speech, I made the point that this part of the webosphere is rather to be seen as a symptom of the effects of current transformations of healthcare systems under austerity policies. Cuts in public health spending encourage patients to be active, informed and equipped, but the resulting social pressure creates paradoxical behaviors and risk-taking.
Also in Montréal, I was invited to a discussion with economic journalist Diane Bérard on the growth and crisis of the collaborative economy. About 50 people attended the event, co-organised by co-working space L’Esplanade, OuiShare Montréal and the journal Les Affaires. Diane summarized the essentials of the event in a blog post just the day after, and noted six main points:
- The Uber case dominates discussions and divides the audience – though the collaborative economy is not (just) Uber.
- The discussion gets easily polarized – a result of the tension between commercial and non-commercial goals of the collaborative economy.
- We still know little of the business models of these platforms and the external factors that facilitate or hinder their success.
- Sharing is in fact a niche market – now probably declining after the first enthusiasms.
- The key issue for the future is work – its transformations, and how it is re-organizing itself.
- Collaborative principles advance even outside the world of digital platforms, and sometimes permeate more traditional sectors. The near future of collaboration are sharing cities.