Author(s) : Salvino A. Salvaggio, Paolo Barbesino & Paola Schellenbaum

Date of Publication : 1999

Bibliographic details : Observatory of the Digital Economy

Executive summary : This report shows how the new rules of the digital economy are being reformulated in a borderless and wirelessworld where the Muppies (Multimedia Urban People Pushing the Internet Economy) feel themselves at ease. Terra incognita to be discovered without travelling, contact zones to be explored without migrating, new strategies of cultural adaptation and change to be invented nearly every day as new business opportunities grow and proliferate in the network economy: these are the challenges in a Muppie World. Information processing is the second challenge the Muppies are facing, as they are exposed to a great number of ideas conveyed by different channels (telephone, fax machine, television, Internet, satellite TV, email, etc.) where the question is not whether a news is true or false but what sort of snowball effect it will have upon the business.
The Muppie era brings with it a little sense of direction and a great disposition to learning and adapting to rapidly changing new scenarios. The novelty of all this is the combination of human evolution and cultural and technological innovations. Computers, networks, mobile phones, other technological toys and objects are either perceived as extensions of the body/mind or they are constructed as powerful brains/bodies that perform better where humans experience difficulty: multi-tasking. Language is also affected by this revolution. Then the Internet is presented not only as a new medium or a tool, but as a new mode of thinking organizations and the relationships among individuals, a new way of conceiving communication and information retrieval, affecting new constructions of what is human and what is non-human. Finding, managing and making sense of information in a rapidly changing environment is said to alter the basic habits of thought. Cooperative work, groupware and information sharing are taken as examples of how the Muppies collaborate in academic, work and home environments. Finally, the Muppies are presented as a European phenomenon. In brief, Muppies can be depicted as follows: young professionals in their thirties, men and women, with study or work abroad experiences, fluent in several languages, often Mac users who combine business knowledge with art, literature, anthropology, sociology and philosophy in the Internet era.

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