FYI France

File 3: Ejournal and archive

by Jack Kessler,

May 15, 2011 issue. This file presents an archive copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on May 15, 2011 - 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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Summer reading :
Thinking Different, about The Digital


Summer reading from the Hexagone: do some thinking outside-the-box -- "Libres Savoirs : Les biens communs de la connaissance -- produire collectivement, partager et diffuser les connaissances au XXIe siècle"

-- loose translation,

-- a book of readings assembled by l'association VECAM -- Veille Européenne et Citoyenne sur les Autoroutes de l'information et le Multimédia, "A European's and citizen's vigil over the information superhighway and multimedia", founded 1995, --

[tr. JK: description of the book --]

"A global look at the common cause for knowledge. Toward networking which foresees no progress without the sharing of information...

"Knowledge is a motor for the economy and for society. Nowadays it is digitized, and it is circulated and distributed and shared easily, enabling cooperation among different communities and the creation of new knowledge. The dynamic and collective emergence of these new common goods is overturning and updating our economic and political thinking.

"The common cause of knowledge thus constitutes a pragmatic utopia which offers new approaches to meeting the challenges of the 21st century.

"For this book, 'Libres Savoirs', l'association VECAM has asked 30 writers, from all the continents, to provide a global look at the common cause of knowledge.

"The diversity of the subjects, here -- from health to free educational resources, from software to scientific publishing, from plant seeds to legal questions -- is a reflection of the vitality in global production of the common cause of knowledge, and of the energy of communities which are producing it*."


"For the full Table of Contents and a description of the book, download the .pdf --


"VECAM is an association founded upon the following principles:

"The role of VECAM is to give citizens the means of researching, understanding, debating, and mastering these transformations.

"More than just technical mastery of digital tools, it is to demystification -- political and social -- that the association tries to contribute.

"VECAM also assists in training by and for associations, citizen organizations, and individuals."


* The book is published by C&F Editions, Caen, 29 €, ISBN 978-2-915825-06-0, mai 2011




A Note:

One does not have to agree or disagree with these VECAM folks, to find their ideas interesting and useful -- particularly if the ideas are unfamiliar, as they may be to many readers here.

The ideas -- of Open Systems, Open Content, The Information Commons, of Shareware and Freeware and The Global Village and The Creative Commons, and of Non-Commercial and even Non-Governmental infotech applications -- are not new to the Internet.

Their appearance here, however, may serve as a useful reminder to some that such ideas still are alive.

Others will be interested to find how alive these ideas are "elsewhere" -- outside, that is, of the narrow commercial and governmental and security-minded worlds we all, increasingly it seems, inhabit.

Digital information has matured, perhaps too quickly and perhaps too much: from the Homebrew Computer Club and the Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link we have progressed, perhaps, to some of the world's largest corporations, wielding immense social and economic and political importance, plus very large bags of money. But a "global village" age of innocence maybe has been lost, too, so that now, "getting and spending, we lay waste our powers..."

Still others may be interested in another "elsewhere": in how people think, about these things, in France, and in Europe, and in Armenia and Afghanistan and Laos and Chile and all the other places and peoples to which and to whom they now have spread -- that people there might Think Different, about Things Digital, ought to go without saying, although the opposite too often is assumed, that the Others think Just Like Us.

I had a good time stunning an audience at XeroxPARC, long ago, with my tale of a digital information network which offered a) graphics, b) commercial uses, and, *gasp*, c) general public users, all long formally-illegal on the "NSF Acceptable Use Policies" US Internet: that miscreant was the French Minitel -- foreigners, doing this digital stuff and Thinking Different about it. At the end of my PARC talk the techies in the audience, bored, clapped politely and left; but the marketers stayed -- and there were many new marketers already, back in 1994 -- and they pummeled me with questions and excited emails which came in for years afterward.

The current New Yorker offers a great article on this theme written by Malcolm Gladwell, "Creation Myth" (May 16 issue), about the birth of the computer mouse, an invention famously stillborn at SRI, and then dead again at PARC itself, but which came alive later in the hands of genius sales-midwife Steve Jobs.

And there was Feynman, too, proving to the experts that O-rings would in fact freeze...

So try some outside-the-box Thinking Different, then -- this summer, again from the French.

Bonnes vacances,


Jack Kessler,






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