3.00 FYI France: Ejournal and archive

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

October 15, 2007 issue. This file presents an archive copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on October 15, 2007.

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3.00 FYI France: Ejournal and archive

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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: kessler@well.sf.ca.us

Here this file is one of a number made available -- hopefully attractively, all in one place, and relevant to libraries and online digital information work in France and Europe -- as part of FYI France (sm)(tm), an online service to which anyone can subscribe for 12 months by postal mailing a check for US $45, payable to Jack Kessler, to PO Box 460668, San Francisco, California, USA 94146 (site licenses also are available): please write your email address on the front of your check. And you can pay via PayPal, on the FYI France homepage:


Please email suggestions for improvements to me at kessler@well.sf.ca.us




Digital libraries : BMLyon finding-aids online


The Bibliothèque Municipale de Lyon's fine website offers an increasing number of increasingly-useful services, for the multimedia and digital information and online worlds.

For example they just have mounted archival finding-aids: not an easy task for any institution, but one which nowadays any institution anywhere can do -- the tools described below are in XML EADS, via new (2003) French software PLEADE --

The two manuscripts finding-aids mounted online, so far, are as follows: [anyone interested in the criminological work of Michel Foucault, or for that matter in criminology of any sort, or in the French Revolution, will be interested in the first --]

-- and -- botany, the history of silk, early 19th c. science --

The BM Lyon also offers, online now, "Les inventaires d'Archives":

-- "Archives littéraires" --

-- "Archives d'artistes et de photographes" --

-- "Archives musicales" --

-- "Archives politiques et sociales" --


And two notes, this time:

* Digitizing archives, and "standards"... It is reassuring, to see the BMLyon offering here in EADS...

In these days of one-size-fits-all data retrieval -- datamining, via commercial / proprietary / "secret" algorithms, turning up results such as, "1-10 of about 285,000 for oulipo (0.24 seconds)" -- it is encouraging to see that some folks, at least, still feel "standards" are going to be useful.

It's not that Google isn't useful... not that it isn't marvelous and magnificent, in fact, and in fact *extremely* useful...

But one size does not fit all: not all searches on "French Revolution" -- as the former président of the BdeF put it succinctly, in his, "The Scarlet Pimpernel crushing Quatre-vingt-treize" --

-- nor all searches, as Information Overload becomes Information Inundation, with home-scanning plus omnipresent handhelds plus terrorism paranoia now virtually guaranteeing that we'll all be drowning in bits & bytes very soon. For that matter find me someone who isn't already...

We're going to need filters, folks: maybe not the old ones we knew and didn't love -- not the old publishing industries, or government censors, or peer-review committees, maybe, the old authorities -- but something new, then, to perform the ageless "winnowing chaff from wheat" task for us.

Or maybe Google will tell us precisely how and why, and for how much (?), retrieval #1 turned up on top of those 284,999 other possibilities... unlikely that they'll tell us, though, and anyway they'll say we wouldn't understand...

Standards such as EADS, then, are for nous autres. They are one of the Common Man & Woman's means of verifying authenticity, veracity, relevancy -- and of filtering, of winnowing down the now-soaring altitudes of our digital in-baskets.

If folks can settle upon ways of describing and grouping items which are "relevant" -- particularly methods which are public, and not "commercial / proprietary / secret" -- well, that's why trains run well, and airplanes don't crash, and buildings don't fall down, and money works in different countries. So maybe "standards" will work for digital information too.

Private enterprise can do much of our data-filtering work for us. But private enterprise cannot be allowed to monopolize, de jure or de facto, or the system will not work: that would be "market imperfection", and sooner or later any such system will run down -- 2d Law of Thermo -- as on the occasion when, for example, the digital information torrent truly becomes a globalized flood, and the system simply becomes overwhelmed.

The following data retrieval is questionable enough:

-- but by the time that reads,

-- which it may do soon, under pressure from all those new bits added to the pile by increasingly-omnipresent scanning & texting & other new data collection methods, massively-distributed now --

-- well, at that point we're all going to really wonder, as some of the French have regarding their Revolution, whether some of the retrievals further down in the pile might not have some relevance too, commercial "secrecy" reassurances notwithstanding.

So we're going to need standards, and filters. Félicitations, then, to the archival community -- the French at the BMLyon, here -- for standing by "standards", the effort will be appreciated..


* Lyon, speaking of nous autres and "something different"

Within France there are worlds, and Lyon is one of them. The Dordogne is another... Clichy-sous-Bois, too, but also Nice, Rennes, St. Jean Pied de Port, Annecy, so many...

One great virtue of online digital information is its revelation of these worlds-within-worlds, to foreigners and perhaps even to the French themselves: touring through the online "archives" described above can show the subtle differences between life en province and life in Paris, differences rarely appreciated by anyone physically located far from both.

So if you want to know "France", you can do so via the official information still generally disseminated from a "centre" which is a northern Global City megalopolis increasingly unlike all other cities in the country. But truly to appreciate both the depth and the breadth of "France", now, you have to get out of Paris.

The BMLyon archive helps you do that. Lyon was a border-town for so long, the Tijuana or Vancouver holding back the tide and profiting from it -- in the traffic from Savoie, "foreign" until 1860! -- and with Italy just across the way. Lombard bankers ran Lyon as wildly, in Parisian eyes, as towns were run in the US Wild West, yet the nobility up in Paris would borrow Lyonnais money. And Lyon was on the "wrong" side in revolutions.

Yet Lyon gave France among its best in cuisine, and chocolate, and much of its Roman tradition: archives and history there can show much, about France, not found in Paris.

So, visitez the BMLyon archive: it's a "different" view of France, perhaps, and now it's available everywhere, online.

Croix-Roussien, moi, more or less...






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M. Eiffel

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W3 site maintained at http://www.fyifrance.com
Document maintained by: Jack Kessler, kessler@well.sf.ca.us
Last update: October 15, 2007