FYI France

File 3: Ejournal and archive

by Jack Kessler,

September 15, 2009 issue. This file presents an archive copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on September 15, 2009.

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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:

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:

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Google, views from France


Book review:

L'entonnoir : Google sous la loupe des sciences de l'information & de la communication
[The Funnel: Google under the Information Science microscope]
by Brigitte Simonnot and Gabriel Gallezot eds., preface by Hervé Le Crosnier, postface by Cory Doctorow (Caen : C&F Éditions, May 2009) 246 pages, ISBN 2-914825-05-X,, in French.


On the eve of the GoogleBooks Settlement "fairness hearing" --

-- here are some new views, from France, on the Google phenomenon generally, and on how it works and/or is said to, and on whether it works or not -- written by French information scientists, French generalist thinkers, and even a talented scifi writer... remember that Wm. Gibson invented the Internet...

This is a book well worth reading -- for librarians, digital and other, and for information scientists, and for anyone who thought the French were "behind" in any of this, and for anyone who believes Google or the Internet or anything else in our new digital world will scale up easily & obviously to international and trans-national applications -- also for anyone interested in the French and the way they approach a problem, also for anyone who reads -- and there is good constructive criticism to be found, here, from some old friends who know the USofA very well.

After its Preface and an Introduction, the book is presented in three parts --

And finally, the book's Postface presents some good fun: a scifi tour de force, on sort-of the general subject, by Cory Doctorow -- of whom, per the blurb,


So much for Outline, now for some interesting Details --

I cannot be fair to all the book's contributors, by summarizing or even just excerpting each of their various and varied articles here -- least of all to the scifi author of the Postface, whose piece must be read in toto to get both gist and flavor -- but read his piece, read the others, read this book -- reasonable minds can differ, and it's all good input, sometimes best in fact when it's different.


A quick appreciation before-I-go, though, of the book design talents of Les Taffin, Nicolas and Juliette, who once again have greatly enhanced my enjoyment and understanding of a book from France. Without their imaginative and excellently-executed chapter heading pages here, my poor francophone talents might not have known, literally, where to end or to begin.


And three General Notes:

  1. They don't do Information Science in France the way it is done in the US -- at least not exactly -- which in the current instance anyway is a Good Thing.

  2. I do agree with these French folks that Google needs to be de-constructed a bit, if only because it cannot be con-structed -- that "secret algorithm" problem, again -- all those hidden and complicated formulas and approaches and biases and methodologies -- the infamous if commercially-necessary secrecy posing such difficulty for academics, as well as for Google itself, in discussions now under way over the development of GoogleBooks, see

    How can we possibly allow a process so arcane, and for whatever good reason so hidden, to decide for us what we all shall read and know?

  3. The French are a disputatious lot -- confrontation is their forté -- if you don't love "animated" discussion, sometimes very animated, France and the French are not the best places to look for input.

    But this is "constructive criticism", at its very best, from old friends who know us, nous les américains, extremely well.

Since Tocqueville and Lafayette and long before, the French have cared, and have offered to us in the US well-informed and candid comment -- a commodity not always available from other non-anglophone friends overseas -- and good input, invaluable now in a "globalization" era for, once again, scaling-up techniques we've developed here at home, to suit overseas users.


Jack Kessler,







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