3.00 FYI France: Ejournal and archive

by Jack Kessler, kessler@well.sf.ca.us

December 15, 2002 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, 2002.

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--oOo--
 

Hervé Le Crosnier on the Internet

 

Just having completed the registration of some Internet domains -- via payments to a US American outfit called "Network Solutions Inc", which now is owned by another US American outfit called "Verisign Inc", NasdaqNM ticker VRSN... -- and just having read yet another story about the machinations of ICANN, in its continual efforts to "scale up" to international realities, I have been wondering how the US American domination of the Internet has been playing overseas, recently...

So what follows here is a recent essay -- by Hervé Le Crosnier, the very able and much - experienced editor of the librarians' econference in France, Biblio-fr -- presenting his views of the structure and role of the Internet, going forward.

Some of what Le Crosnier observes, here, will sound very unfamiliar to US Americans, but not so to perhaps most others...

--oOo--

"Democracy, Society, Creativity --
in the Era of the New Technologies"

[Introductory text to a colloquium on "Mass Education and Social Transformation",
held by the Fédération française des Maisons des Jeunes et de la Culture,
at Mantes-la-Jolie, March 26 & 27, 2002.]

by Hervé Le Crosnier [tr. JK]

 

I had the chance to first use the Internet in 1992, and immediately I felt a great breath of fresh air, from the very first day when I succeeded in obtaining messages from a "listserv", apparently in the US. It was 5pm, and the computer -- the terminal, actually... you remember, those good old terminals with orange letters on their black backgrounds -- was lit up on my desk, and I was working in the catalog of my library. And then suddenly an avalanche of messages was arriving, from the other end of the world...

These were professional notices, but also a guy -- I still remember -- who was telling me live (I only understood afterward that this was a different mode, although I sensed right away the immediacy of the communication) about a speech by Al Gore during a meeting on the Internet being held somewhere in the West of the US.

What? Me, in my city in the provinces -- in Caen, in Normandie -- I was at the "center of the world"! At my own desk, as anywhere else in fact, I might receive, directly, observations by people like me on things which they themselves were seeing.

I believe that this "miracle" is renewed, repeatedly, for all of us who now use the Internet. I remember that ad from a few years ago, for an Internet access service: "How long has it been since you've had an intelligent conversation?"... If you are the only one in your village to cherish a particular passion, there nevertheless may be hundreds like you around the world. And the Internet makes contact with them possible -- from here, locally, and for the people who are here and who are local.

A short time later, urged on by Michel Melot, who at the time presided over the Conseil Supérieur des Bibliothèques, I discovered that I myself could become a "broadcaster", from my own little "center of the world", in my city in the provinces -- via a network of people who would engage in a long conversation, enabling both professional communications but also the general outlook on the world provided by such a medium. And so began an impassioned discussion, which now has continued for nine years, and which has permitted the weaving of a web of over 9,000 French - speaking librarians.

I found that from that terminal of 25 lines filled with 80 little orange characters, I could receive and send -- I could participate in already - existing and immense social networks -- and I could build a new network, constructing the social capital so necessary to personal life and to democratic interaction.

This was before the reign of "ecommerce", but it was -- it still is -- in the midst of a new wave of global resistance to the nefarious effects of recent dizzying increases in inequality...

It is the Internet: a new tool for social control, but also a new tool for democracy -- a new network of power, but also a new place for the emergence of the counter - cultures which critique and resist that power.

 

1) The Nature of the Internet

First one has to ask about the nature of the Internet, before evaluating its impact on the forms of social organization and contacts which it can create.

For the social nature of the Internet is as path - breaking as is the technique which supports it. The Internet is a "network of networks", one which provides a large margin of autonomy to its periphery -- there is no center, to the Internet. On the other hand the Internet is the heart itself of the interconnectivity of each of the computers which uses it -- by virtue of the interconnectivity and communications norms which define it, the "IP protocol".

At the level of social uses as well, the Internet displays these same sorts of contradictions:

-- The Internet is a network for the communication of personal expression. For the first time, outside of face - to - face conversation, a technical innovation permits an exchange among peers: I receive information, and I can respond to it, transmit it, critique it, all in the same text and at the same time as its original dissemination, and I can use it in the construction of a social network. Email is the essence of the Internet.

-- The Internet is media. Specialist editors can organize information on the Internet and make it available to the public. This can contradict the first point about personal expression, which nevertheless co - exists with it. As media, the Internet submits to the regime of concentrated power -- a few large publishers, who share the greatest part of the connectivity, such as Yahoo, Disney, CNN... -- and to the conformity of content -- the media, on the Internet, also submit to the rules of mass marketing, in spite of their technical capacity to do better, for the production of media - based information has to respect the rules of economies of scale.

-- The Internet is a market - place. For ecommerce directed at consumers and for ecommerce among businesses... This last is part of the redefinition of business itself, of its methods, of its participation in a global market which tends to disguise hidden costs: costs such as loss of energy in the transportation industries, social loss in the failure to provide jobs for people to work where they live, cultural loss from the omnipresence of technology - oriented culture. The global marketplace of the Internet is a danger, for the local marketplaces which we actually inhabit. The immediacy, the interactivity, the negotiation - without - leaving - the - office, all tend to make us believe that people and objects behave in the same manner, and make us forget logistical questions, and social questions about the producers of those objects.

-- The Internet is a bazaar. Each of us can come to it with whatever we produce, whatever strikes us, and exchange it and circulate it. The success of online auctions illustrates this particular characteristic of the Internet -- the success of music - sharing systems such as Napster, also. The bazaar is the place where the underground economy recycles itself -- and it also is the place for the circulation of subversive ideas, and what effect will that have?

-- The Internet is a product of ideology. The sectors of society which succeed in believing that their own development is a part of the global development of all society are only those which already have some wind in their sails. And today, clearly, it is the Internet which is at the controls. The Internet is presented as the miraculous solution to all problems of economic crisis, of education, of the desertions from political democracy... simply "Internet" the solutions, and there will be no more problems...

-- The Internet is, itself, a motor of the market. Notably the market for computers -- which must be traded - in every two years -- and for software, and for more and more new electronic things which must be connected to it, from refrigerators to music players such as the iPod. This market involves the consumer, but also the policy - maker, who must take part in the network in its many roles in the social and political infrastructure -- think of all of the digital development in city and regional planning techniques, for example.

-- Finally, the Internet is an exhibitionist. In a photographic sense: a magnifying glass, a means of making things appear larger -- a playing field, as well, for the latest trends in society. Think of economic trends, recall the so - called "New Economy"; trends in jurisprudence, the new legal order which mixes laissez - faire for the powerful with repression for the masses, which one finds in "copyright" questions and notably in the use of music by youth; cultural trends, decorating and "techno" as creative modes; social trends, the Internet as a tool for new forms of social struggle via the network.

 

Such facets of the Internet apparently are those which will occupy us over the two days of this colloquium. We must beware of reducing the Internet to a definition which will be too rigid for taking into account the diversity of its uses, of the dangers which some of them involve, and also of the possibilities which can emerge from the practices of interconnectivity.

 

2) The Internet and the Economy of Monopoly

We are told that we are developing into a "service economy". On the Internet, the term "service" has begun to take on a very particular sense, one which has become a "thing" in all the senses of that term.

A program offered as a "service" no longer is installed on the terminal of its user. It is rented, at the moment of its usage, as a function of that usage. You no longer have word - processing, you rent it. And when you rent it, you are not billed for the bit of emailing which does not "serve" you, but there are other means for making you pay, constantly, for your rental...

For example:

-- Your music, as a "service". No longer purchased for a use which you choose, but rented for the duration of a listening session. The more you listen the more you will pay. And it will be impossible to copy so as to share with your friends. Industry, led by Disney, is in the process of imposing a law in the US providing that all document readers -- computers, CD and DVD players, music - players... -- carry an anti - copying system. You no longer will pay, but so what? You will have the great music chainstores left, for your use... mental molding, without paying a penny...

-- Your memory, as a "service". Even better than providing a personal archive -- your photo album, for example -- companies will sell you a shared service, with anytime - access they will say, to your own recollections, as you see fit to provide them to the system. Thus sites such as PhotoPoint.com offered to house your photos as a subscription service... at least until December 2001 when maintenance costs proved too high for that firm's Pantellic Software parent and the site was closed, without advising users, who thus were deprived of their own memories...

-- Your automobile, as a "service". No longer a matter of getting it fixed at the local garage, your network - connected car is pursued by its manufacturer, piece by piece... and he alone possesses the digital code needed to detect defective parts and reorder them, obtaining the part which corresponds exactly to your order and to you. For your security, obviously...

-- and, even more, your washing machine, as a "service"... rented, pay - as - you - go, and monitored remote by the company -- that's the latest from Brandt Appliances, Cie...

-- and, my friend, even world science soon will be disseminated "as a 'service'". A library pays for a "subscription licence" to a journal... if anything goes wrong, pfffffffft, the journal disappears from your screen... And don't even ask about making an inhouse copy of the articles which interest you -- it is so simple to return to the source, each time, that it no longer is possible to copy the articles -- service <=> service.

-- and... one could go on, for a long time, speaking for example of "seeds as a 'service'", which produces infertile plants so that the peasant must return every year to the seed company...

For the goal of "service", apparently, is to force you to pay -- each time, for each usage. It is, principally, a control of your social practices so as better to sell you new services, through the techniques of "one - to - one marketing".

The Internet exhibits such new practices of the "monopolies of convergence" -- one speaks of convergence when all media use the same network, digitized from end to end. No longer a matter of controlling prices, as in the time of the cartels, now the goal is "lifetime value" -- of a person -- to sell to him, for the duration of his life, all of the services which he ever will need. And so much the better if one knows the state of his bank account -- inasmuch as the banker is in on the deal, also providing his particular "service", through his own banker's "portal".

Have a look, in this regard, at the unified "free" portal for members offered this Fall by the Crédit Agricole, TF1, and a telecommunications company whose name we shall not mention... Consider the slithering progress of Microsoft, from having been a software firm to becoming now a multiservice bureau on the networks. Consider finally the financial crisis in the values of the "New Economy": the banks now have "laissez faire", and the telephone companies have bought them up, to launch gigantic "Commercial Service Centers".

 

3) Resistance, to Convergence

Happily, the future is not yet written. The simple act of denouncing a trend, of revealing it, can aid greatly in counteracting it. For this tendancy towards pay - as - you - go monopoly is beginning to come up against another use of the Internet network: its bursting - of - boundaries, its peer - to - peer communications, its swarming civil society.

Everyone knows of the role played by the Internet in the mobilization at Seattle, which succeeded in blocking the pheonomenon of neo - Liberal economic globalization by creating a globalization of human networks. This phenomenon is being studied by the braintrust of the US Army which is the Rand Corporation.

Under the title "Social Netwar", Rand describes the new capacity of the networks to focus and coordinate common action: everyone comes to such an effort with his own particular objectives -- even physically, considering the differences among "affinity groups" -- and it is the convergence of all of this which assures success. So this finishes the dichotomies and oppositions of the times of the Cold War -- no one is forced to "choose sides", now, in taking advantage of strengths of numbers and of diversity.

In addition, the Developing Nations -- and notably the networks of militants in "The South" who now are the most active -- can participate openly, as much by their presence as by their capacity to project their themes, their needs, and their proposals onto the global agenda. These are networks such as "Focus on the Global South" of Walden Bello, or "Third World Network" of Martin Khor. It is evidently the "Porto Alegre Experience" which is being inscribed upon our daily lives, in our reflections and exchanges with each other, because no controlled media can obstruct this diffusion of information. The networks go around such roadblocks.

The information will reach, directly, any who can understand it, and help them to develop their own proposals -- to reach those who know how to send it further, via "forwarding" to their own networks. Working with interconnectivities instead of hierarchies: we are moving toward a new global movement of the non - aligned -- the non - aligned from everywhere, among all populations -- in which the Internet will play a fundamental role.

But this political and social opposition at the global scale is only one example of this swarming of peoples associated with the Internet. One also finds other trends, in other social practices:

-- the movement for free software. This provides an infrastructure of experimental software, outside of the pay - as - you - go monopolies described earlier here. This movement is posing fundamental questions: what are the social bases of exchange, and of gift?; what does one want, when one makes a gift? How is the gift to be noted in the "noosphère", the ensemble of interconnected knowledge of the spirit defined by the Christian philosopher Teilhard de Chardin? How to measure such riches? What would be an infrastructure useful to everyone, a common good that is global?

-- file exchange, peer - to - peer. This does pose significant problems for authors -- how to deal with massive changes in thinking about copyright -- but these are changes which reveal a new strategy for the construction of knowledge. A new equilibrium will be found, certainly, between advantages in terms of freedom of expression and the necessity of rewarding creativity. For culture serves above all to permit us to live together. The user of culture -- reader, listener, student... -- needs to take part in what attracts him, and this also is the social engine for the human networks which reinforce the usages of culture. That is how they are created, and it is the economy of their creation.

-- the Budapest Initiative for freedom of access to research. The assembles thousands of scientists, and institutions such as libraries and scientific academies, to promote the free circulation of scientific articles throughout the world. Currently, publishing monopolies such as Elsevier hold the "copyright" of researchers for their own sole profit, and resell the knowledge at high prices to universities and research centers.

Science, though, is funded "at the source"... with the Internet, it can be the same for scientific publication, the articles issued by the public financing of research. The Budapest Initiative, which was made public on February 14, 2002, foresees the self - archiving and exchange of research publications, and the creation of new scientific journals which are free - of - charge -- so that knowledge becomes really accessible throughout the world, and so that it really does serve the development of collective well - being.

 

4) New Public Services

Together with the actions of citizens, in organizing other uses for the Internet, there also are new problems, posed by public power at all levels, from the local to the national and to international proposals.

When only 10% of a population has access to a public good, others may feel that they themselves might pass it up. But the question changes when it is a third of the population which uses the Internet, as is the case today in Europe, and when the media speak of it day after day. Offering access to everyone, and training to guarantee self - sufficiency to every Internaut, becomes a highly - sensitive question of "digital" planning.

Should access to the Internet be thought of as an investment in infrastructure, for the public good? Any region -- any city -- which is well - irrigated with communications networks, can attract corporations, research centers... Decentralization planning can discover a new resource, if high - capacity networks and networks of capable human beings can be brought together.

All of these choices may be discussed with the citizens, for an equal distribution of infrastructure between the needs of economics and those of citizenship. Too often, however, the "Silicon Valleys" content themselves with promoting their networks for corporations alone. The citizen's role is either ignored, or reduced to a publicity stunt for use by the municipality.

This is why initiatives which go further ought to be encouraged, as at Brest here in France:

-- public access is provided
-- Internet training is provided
-- servers are provided for use by groups, associations, unions
-- free software, deliberately avoiding the monopolies, is promoted

 

But beyond the promotion of the Internet, questions concerning the long term development of the networks also need to be considered:

-- Who owns the network? Can we leave to private enterprise alone the tasks of long term risk - taking, or is government supervision the guarantor of maintaining equal access, and of the possibility of an economics which will support and develop the employees of tomorrow... Thierry Carcenac, French legislative deputy from the Tarn, has published a very interesting report on this subject.

-- At the moment when IPv6 is being deployed, and therefore at the moment of the segmentation of Internet infrastructure through the emergence of "reserved bandwidth", what is the role of government agencies regarding network access? Are high - speed channels to be reserved simply for those who can pay their price?

-- Domain names may be multiplied infinitely, with ease. But they pose limits for the development of new servers. Can one leave to a monopolistic private company, which engages in other activites like certification, such as Verisign, the disposition of the right to register doman names -- and therefore to charge fees? Would not some sort of international public institution be more appropriate, one which might redistribute gains from the sale of names, on behalf of developing regions?

 

More generally, insofar as the networks induce a digitization of numerous cultural activities and trends, how can we define and protect the new global public goods which are associated with them:

-- the public good in the definition of norms -- and their publicity, and their free access. Can we accept that such norms are to be governed by advance registration of patents, by corporations participating in normalization working groups? Debate over this rages at the heart of the WorldWideWeb Consortium...

-- the public good in the distribution of network nodes. Are we to follow the current uncertain model -- in which each router relays all of the packets which it receives, without distinguishing among them, and it is this straightforward distribution which assures the global quality of the Internet -- or must we accept the implementation of global private networks, reducing by that much the machines governed by equal distribution.

-- the public good in the knowledge which circulates on the network. We must not forget that the networks were born in the universities, and that the capacity to use them in exchanging knowledge and promoting education for everyone is at the heart, of all of this, for our entire global society. Ought these essential goods to become entirely dependent upon private initiatives and competition?

-- the public good in a common patrimony of humanity. Faced with the appetities of digital enterprises -- such as that of Corbis, which is a subsidiary of Microsoft -- what is to be the definition of the network's role, and of a public digital cultural space, and what is to be its extent?

-- the public good in documents produced in the public domain. Reports, statistics, inquiries, analyses -- all of the information which public agencies produce ought to be available to citizens, to spur the production of additional expertise.

 

Finally, basic education and continuing education must be re - thought, in light of their first forays into privatization and of the competition which the networks encourage. Yes, the Internet can supplement education, but we must resolve the questions of equality, of the access by all to education, of public support for an education which is both independant and of high quality.

The free play of competition, in a sector so fundamental as education, encourages more knowledge which is directly applicable, than it does the diffusion of knowledge which is transmissible. I myself teach in the domain of the technologies of the Internet: I know very well the pressures emanating from companies in the sector, who want training in this or that software package -- but my role as a university instructor is to permit my students to acquire a general understanding of the technologies, one which will allow them to adapt, when the moment arrives that they lack a particular something needed by company X. And I want them to be able to imagine pursuits -- or repeats -- of their studies, throughout their entire lives.

Education is the offer to individuals of the means for their autonomy, and of the capacity to place in perspective that which they have to do, as employee or as citizen. Of course, nearby, numerous other educational possibilities can find a place: private and profit - making, very much for the specific training of knowledge -- or private but non - profit, like the great associations for popular education, such as the Fédération Française des Maisons des Jeunes et de la Culture which is our host today.

But the defense of teaching which is secular, free, and obligatory, remains essential: just as essential as is the inclusion in such teaching of new technologies of communication -- image analysis, Internet use, the mastery of communications tools -- certainly when technological innovation and an explosion in new questions of citizenship make lifelong and continuing education so necessary.

 

5) The Question of Copyright: Cultural Creativity, and a Surveillance Society

It seems very interesting to me that a great deal of discussion is to be devoted to the question of copyright, during these meetings. Digitization, and the transmission of texts over the networks, are profoundly changing the methods of protecting copyright.

Copyright is a matter of balancing the needs of artists to earn their living by their art and the needs of all of society to obtain inventions and creations so as to enlarge the general knowledge possessed by humanity. In copyright, this translates into "public domain": the exception made for education or research, for the right of citation and of criticism, for the fair use of a private copy...

Currently, however, certain zealots of copyright see only one side of the balance. They have succeeded in conveying a message which is simple but wrong: one must pay, for each use made of a work. Now everyone worries for the author, who will be robbed by copying, by library borrowing, by the sharing of cassettes among friends... The belief is that we are aiding Flaubert, but we find ourselves enlisted in the service of Vivendi, or of Disney, or of Elsevier or Microsoft...

In the world of artifacts, copyright is negotiated at the moment of manufacture -- the publishing of a book, the pressing of a disk, the placing on sale of films or the distribution of broadcasts. With the Nets, one sees a shift toward a negotiation at the moment a work is used: a license for a defined number of sessions, restrictions on personal copying, licenses adapted to the material, refusals to loan digital texts...

These changes, moreover, are not being made to conventional copyright which is, I repeat, a matter of balancing -- and this since the First Statute of Anne, the ancestor of all copyright. The changes force us to reconsider collectively, weighing the interests of authors and those of society, and taking into account the interests in this patrimony of the producers and distributors who support that figure of the author.

The US Revolution -- their independence from England -- was made possible because the journals of cities in the 13 states were able to reprint the information which they derived from the journals of neighboring cities, and thus they circulated the news and organized the human networks which brought the Republic into being. Information is a social object, and not just a private good launched into a market of symbolic goods.

So we must reconsider copyright politically: as a function of the type of work involved, for a satellite photo is not a creative work like a stage play; or of the type of usage, as can one really forbid the study of contemporary art in schools?; and with regard to private usage of the work -- for copies made for one's - self and one's network of friends -- who after all will become future buyers, perhaps not of the copied work but of something else which they then will circulate among their own social group.

We need to avoid falling into the trap of pay - as - you - go, as that has been installed in the borrowing policies of libraries, and we need to avoid the hysterias of demagogues: no, you do not rob an author when you use a work which you have not purchased -- you circulate your culture, a thing which brings us to buy other works, in fact. You do not rob a music producer when you make a cassette for using in your car: the public success, realized by this very usage of these copies, is what earns him his living...

 

6) Social Capital and Symbolic Capital, versus Economic Capital

As a conclusion, to this already too lengthy presentation, I would like to emphasize the capacities of the Internet for renewing the democratic process. Modern democracies increasingly confront decisions which put grave consequences into play -- long term -- in situations of uncertainty, and moreover situations which are obscured by the "experts" in any given specialized area. Whether one thinks of genetic engineering, of nuclear energy and its wastes, or of global warming...

Citizens generally are kept from participating in such decisions. Political lobbies provide excuses for our politicians and do the real work -- including lying for them, as we have seen in the Enron affair, in the United States.

Citizens, however, have a need for expertise in these areas. They have a need for different information which can contradict, circulate, oppose, and defend, before the "tribunal of reason". We no longer can place our confidence in "science" to do this for us. The example of the participation of actual victims in the research networks on AIDS assembled by Act-Up demonstrates how citizens, when they do things together, can acquire knowledge and develop methods which place them on the same level as the experts, often self - proclaimed and authorized by their own expertise -- consider the propaganda of the multinational tobacco companies, or the revenge taken by asbestos victims on the arrogance of its producers.

The Internet is a formidable tool in the explosion of cooperative knowledge, of the networks and of counter - expertise, in this capacity providing everyone with an opportunity for increasing common knowledge. It is a tool for circulating information, and for influencing decisions.

More generally, when "economic capital" and "military power" are concentrated in very few hands, the multitudes possess as their tool of opposition their "social capital" -- the capacity to exchange information, and to mobilise for mutual advancement and social protection -- and their "symbolic capital" -- the cultural images which they can transmit to each other, with the assistance and active participation of artists. The Internet is an extraordinary means of constructing social capital.

As a tool for expression, the Internet permits each person to disseminate his ideas, his opinions. As a tool for duplication, it permits the circulation of these things, their distribution, eventually their enrichment through the commentary of others... New social networks thus are mobilized, to develop alternatives -- for example more equitable commercial practices, and more dependable financial structures -- and to develop counter - movements, such as the movements of opposition to international business meetings, as at Seattle.

Knowledge, and collective discussion, can be of the same level of quality as those which envelop the powerful. They can create a new perspective for the construction of a more just world, and the avoidance of dramatic consequences which accompany our current global situation and the inequalities which it engenders.

But the construction of social networks demands specifics -- in know - how, and in knowing - how - to - live. So -- New Abilities, for a New Democracy. The labor movement of the beginning of the last century learned to read and to write, so as to publish their tracts, for convincing their co - workers to organize. Activists of the 21st century have to learn the keyboard and the mouse, and the rhythms and social procedures appropriate to these new tools, which are simultaneously more relational -- one speaks as though one is among friends, when one wishes to contruct a consensus which will underlie grand movements -- and more intrusive -- email already being perceived as a tool which receives, and creates, behaviors very different from those resulting simply from reading journals.

Associations of popular education, in the middle of the last century, developed a form of popular thinking adapted to technological constraints -- if one thinks of "underground films" -- and to the political perspectives of the period -- chiefly organized within the nation - state, and focussing on the social struggle within the corporation.

How will these associations of popular education accommodate the change of the current era, and with that the change of technological tool -- to the network, or better to the "network of networks" -- all as an overture to the change of perspectives -- such as the global dimension of problems, now, the importance of the ecology crisis, the persistence of misery in the countries of The South, and the increasing inequalities?

 

I thank the Fédération française des Maisons des Jeunes et de la Culture -- which is itself an association for popular education -- for having organized these meetings for the discussion of such issues, and for having permitted me to express myself, by way of introduction, in presenting these questions before you.

 

Hervé Le Crosnier -- Caen, le 25 mars 2002

[translated by JK: the original is online, in Le Crosnier's eloquent French, at --

http://users.info.unicaen.fr/~herve/publications/2002/mantes ]

--oOo--

 

Editor's note by JK:

If some of the points which Le Crosnier makes here sound unfamiliar, to US Americans, let me just say that they are very familiar nowadays to nearly anyone outside of the US. I keep hearing same or similar, myself, from correspondents seemingly everywhere, elsewhere -- from Russia, from Japan, from Britain, from Germany where unemployment just has reached 10% again and as a result the new Schroeder government suddenly is under siege, from Canadian Americans, and from Mexican Americans, and from others all over "Latin" America...

For example: Le Crosnier's contrast of the "consumer" versus the "citizen" roles, in Internet development and usage --

-- or the realities of "copyright" --

-- or on some of the newer, and grimmer, realities of new approaches to education, and to "digital library" service --

 

The more extreme arguments on all of this which I myself hear nowadays are made by activists in India, environment ministers in East Africa, disillusioned former entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia and in Argentina -- one of the more responsible activists, quoted here by Le Crosnier, in fact operates from Penang, in Malaysia.

So it may not be France, but the US, which is isolated and alone, in much of this -- and so these are points which many in the US now really do need to hear... It is not so much a matter of agreeing, as it is of ceasing the denial which assumes that the entire world agrees with the US now.

Coming from the French, in this instance, this is the advice of friends: as such -- and whether it is wrong or right -- at least it should be listened to, I believe. A few in the US, so far, have heard these cries -- but not many.

 

Joyeux Noël & Bonne Année, to everyone.

 

--oOo--

--hjlm--

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