FYI France

File 3: Ejournal and archive

by Jack Kessler,

December 15, 2010 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, 2010 -- and, a little later, on, and at Facebook-Jack Kessler's Wall-

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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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"Internet, the knowledge revolution"


A book of readings, in a different way of looking at the Internet -- a "foreign" way, non-anglophone... a French way... perhaps even an "international" way...

In both the selection and arrangement, of these interesting articles -- Le Crosnier draws from Clay Shirky, Umberto Eco, J.-N. Jeanneney, B. Racine, other interesting writers and resources -- here, in one slim volume, some very "different" approaches are presented to the way "data" and "information" and "research" are being considered and pursued online.

Are these "different" approaches French? Are they European? Are they, simply, non-American?

As with healthcare and sovereign debt and so many other subjects, nowadays, readers will find here subtle, and some not-so-subtle, differences with the current reigning paradigm.

Whether those differences exist because the writers here are, primarily, not American, must be for the reader to judge. But the interesting ideas presented here stray from the current mainstream.

Octavio Paz once famously labeled his own non-conformist ideas about Mexico, "Critique of the Pyramid". Here Le Crosnier is interested in similar: in ideas which stand apart, and look skeptically and critically at the "pyramid" of digital information we are constructing, and at its capacities for doing both good and, perhaps, some evil.

It is only by standing apart, from the process, that writers -- thinkers -- really can do this. By being "foreign"... Those too close to the center of the dynamo, at the current pyramid's apex perhaps, those caught up in all this, Americans, also all English-speakers, should read this little book, and carefully consider its contents -- Americans should note for example that there is little said here about entrepreneurial spirit, or about monetization, or profit margin, or return-on-investment or venture capitalism, all topics so essential nowadays to American discussions of these matters.


Le Crosnier divides his inquiry into three sections: translations are my own --

-- what is "knowledge" in the digital era? -- how do its new shaping & sharing procedures work? -- and do they work, does "it" get transmitted, from some to others, and is the thing-transmitted really "knowledge"?


There are those of us who believe that Twitter tweets and Google searches and Wiki-leaks and Info-tainment might not be "knowledge" -- more just, really, noise -- something pretending to be "information" but, lacking filters & structure & wisdom & experience, more just really "data".

Or perhaps the skeptics and critics just, as the poets warn, are "growing old" -- per T.S. Eliot,

These are new ideas, discussed in this little book. Some are extraordinary, some mundane -- some ideas about books and libraries may be comfortable and familiar, others about e-books and information-sharing may be threatening and maddening -- a world of Twitter and Facebook, of Infotainment and Wikileaks, of Internet-enabled video-gaming, may not be the knowledge-world which even our mermaids had in mind, back when they first sang to us, but it may be the rough-beast brave new world that is dawning.


Jack Kessler,




p.s. The best way to understand Le Crosnier's discussion, before diving into his readings, is to follow his table of contents, closely: so I have translated it here -- French speakers inevitably will find at least subtle differences, between my translations and his French originals, but that is partly the point --







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