December 15, 2001 issue. This file presents an archive copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on December 15, 2001.
Versions of the following have appeared online regularly, since 1992, as a feature of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which is distributed for free via email every month except August. Ejournal subscriptions may be obtained via email request to: email@example.com
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Amid all the ongoing debate about the procedures of "digital libraries" -- what they are, what they are not, whether they are a good or a bad or an inevitable thing -- it is useful to be reminded occasionally of the superb "content" which the best among them can contain.
"Content is king", "Think Content", "It's the content, stupid...": these are the days of miracle and wonder and "AOL TimeWarner" -- no longer of "computers and tcp/ip", which literally have faded now, at last, into the much longed - for invisibility / banalisation background of daily life.
So, as happened with the Minitel, Back in the Beginning, it is not all just Infotainment and Selling and Pornography on the Internet any longer. There now are some truly remarkable things available online: among which the Bibliothèque Numérique of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, at,
Currently the BNF's Bibliothèque Numérique is showing no less than 23 fascinating exhibits / sites / nodes -- each with images, text, notes, bibliography, some with sound, all in the true French multi - faceted style, and all very useful for initiation of students as well as further exploration by scholars, into any of the fields concerned --
A few details, and reactions, on and to the latest of these BNF exhibits to have been mounted: also a couple of suggestions of perhaps general application --
This is a remarkable exhibition of and about the graphic arts, originally shown at the BNF Tolbiac from September 18 to November 25, 2001. Anyone wishing to see, or to show others, a one - stop introduction to what "graphics" are all about, need only click and watch and listen. From the online exhibit:
"It must be noted that the term 'graphics', as used by professionals in the field, does not designate anything universally accepted, either in current usage or in the dictionary. Doubtless the multitude of formats which graphics supports, its 'presentation', explains this situation in part. To this must be added the small consideration which people normally accord to everyday objects. All this leads to a reticence to recognize, and therefore to appreciate, a visual art which is a part of our daily lives..."
"How then to reflect upon an object of study which has received so little definition? The exhibition proposes to consider graphics as a vast territory ranged between 'pure' typography, on the one hand, and 'pure' image on the other. It groups graphic work into large collections corresponding to the principal functions of the art and the different usages to which we put it..."
The methodology of the online version of this exhibit is a fascinating tour de force in the use of the online medium:
Under five "functional" rubrics,
the virtual exhibit scrolls through the series of graphic works, originally presented in the "real" exhibition, in a very interesting demonstration of one great advantage offered by the "virtual" over the "real":
-- as anyone who ever has attended a crowded Paris exhibition can attest, the crowds and conviviality -- the noise -- and the accidents of layout and presentation of a large art show can distract. A tourist, particularly, risks being so overwhelmed by the strangeness and excitement of "being in Paris", and all those French accents and labels in French on things, and being in a giant new space such as the BNF Tolbiac or the Louvre or the Musée d'Orsay or wherever an exhibit is being presented, that s/he risks losing sight of and any chance at understanding a complex exhibit. And Paris exhibits always are complex -- never just "the pictures", always the context and the story and the philosophy underneath and some sort of "presentation innovation" folded in as well -- nothing capable of being absorbed quickly, in a foreign crowd, while you are wondering if it really will be snowing outside by the time you exit and whether the kids will make it back to the hotel from wherever they are to meet you in time for dinner...
-- online, instead, the relaxing linearity can be very reassuring. Not only are you in the comfort of your own office or home -- no crowds or French accent distractions swarming around -- but the mysteries of "le graphism" can be viewed in line, in an order much despised by many graphic artists but so needed by their customers and clients and the grand public.
So in this particular BNF Tolbiac Bibliothèque Numérique exhibit, you click on the little double arrow pointing to the right and it gently scrolls you through each of the five topics, showing simple captions explaining the functions of graphics -- for example,
"Mass Communications -- the function of the poster is to attract attention. From the point of view of the reader, the reading is a forced one, a glance which has been snatched..."
-- with fascinating illustrations along the way, on which of course you can "click", to halt the scrolling and "focus in" to obtain enlargements and detailed explanations -- better than craning your neck over the sea of fellow - tourist heads for a fleeting glimpse of a little distant thing which you know to be "themonalisa", and about which you know little else and you have no time now to look into it because it may already be snowing outside and the kids surely will be late getting back to the hotel and for all you know they may be lost, somewhere in central Paris...
No waiting, warm, inviting bistro nearby in the "virtual" version, of course -- although they're working on that.
The one suggestion which I have to make of this particular online exhibit is merely technical and has two points, both of general application to any such online exhibit I think:
b) Also, checking Netscape -- as I always do to see whether a problem really is just the result of Mr. Gates' so - much - feared paranoia and market domination tendencies -- I find that in my Communicator 4.51 I cannot even get the scrolling to work. So maybe Mr. Case is even more grasping than Mr. Gates, or perhaps the Activex / Java controversy is rearing its ugly head here and the at - least - equally - grasping Mr. McNealy is involved here too... Whatever, until these three guys, and the rest of them, give us a unified platform on which to view this stuff, the BNF web staff and the rest of us too all must remember to take a look through all the browsers, AOL's (still?) non - Communicator one as well, and try to please all the viewers all the time, before they mount these things: maybe not possible, but best attempts appreciated and caveats, at least, required.
So, something to look at over the holidays...
Interesting text, and wonderful images, and sound, and organization -- and lots of links -- all "filtered", and stretched to the limits of the very latest communications medium, and presented to you in the privacy of your very own office or home wherever in the world that happens to be.
Suppose you are stuck for the holidays in Ulan Bator or Hobart or West Covina -- or Limoges -- and cannot get to Paris, or do not want to. Then here, courtesy of the BNF, its treasures and those of French and general civilization, and the art of the text / discours, all will come to you... "outreach" sans pareil...
As it's the holidays, consider this "eye candy", plus some real nourishment, for the eye and for the mind and for the soul.
And we all need a bit of this, after the last few months' headlines.
Meilleurs Voeux, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year,
FYI France (sm)(tm) e-journal ISSN 1071 - 5916 * | FYI France (sm)(tm) is a monthly electronic | journal published since 1992 as a small-scale, | personal experiment, in the creation of large- | scale "information overload", by Jack Kessler. / \ Any material written by me which appears in ----- FYI France may be copied and used by anyone for // \\ any good purpose, so long as, a) they give me --------- credit and show my email address, and, b) it // \\ isn't going to make them money: if it is going to make them money, they must get my permission in advance, and share some of the money which they get with me. Use of material written by others requires their permission. FYI France archives may be found at http://infolib.berkeley.edu (search fyifrance), or http://email@example.com/ (BIBLIO-FR archive), or http://listserv.uh.edu/archives/pacs-l.html (PACS-L archive) or http://www.fyifrance.com . Suggestions, reactions, criticisms, praise, and poison-pen letters all will be gratefully received at firstname.lastname@example.org . Copyright 1992- , by Jack Kessler, all rights reserved except as indicated above.
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