3.00 FYI France: Ejournal and archive

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

October 15, 1998 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, 1998.

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


FYI France: BNF's "Catalan Atlas" online, "Ciel & Terre"

In an extraordinary and beautiful new online exhibit, Ciel & Terre, at,


the Bibliothèque Nationale de France presents a number of treasures, including:


A couple of general thoughts:

1) language, and other foreign things

The Ciel & Terre site is done in French. The site's organization is superb: visually stunning, clear, rational as only the French can be (?) -- one need not, I myself think, be particularly fluent in the language to be able to enjoy the site.

The basic Ciel & Terre structure presents:

Accompanying the entire site -- those pull - across features shown in the frame to the left -- are sections devoted to general "Biographies", "Glossaire", Chronologie", "Bibliographie". In the latter there are links: to Hubble images, to the Anglo - Australian Observatory, to NASA, the "Messier Interactive Catalog", "Windows to the Universe" at UMich, "Adonis, the Adaptive Optics system for infrared astronomy" (France), "Views of the Solar System" (US) -- as with anything on the Web, from anyplace you can go anywhere... even if you yourself get lost, students love this...

Nearly everything on the site is sumptuously illustrated, so that even someone not French and not fluent will enjoy a visit. But the words which do appear on the Ciel & Terre site do appear in French. And there are other "French" things about the site -- French citations predominating in the bibliography, French approaches to formatting and description and punctuation, even French spellings of non - French names ("Ptolémé").

This prompts a general question about Cyberspace, occasioned by the appearance of Ciel & Terre: will Cyberspace be more "English medium", even "American" -- as some of us have feared -- or will it be less?

Is the Internet leading to a domination of communication by American language and values, as many of its critics (many of them French) have warned, or is it a tool which in fact will help the expansion of other cultures as well, certainly if uses of it of the excellence of the BNF's Ciel & Terre give any indication of its future? The glass may be empty or half full, but at least the Beaujolais may come from France in addition to Napa... and from Barossa, and Chile, and perhaps even China some day soon...


Second general thought prompted by "Ciel & Terre":

2) the New Publishing: a convergence of authors and users, with digital libraries pointing the way...

-- the need for publishers

There are plenty of people naively involved in the business of "electronic / digital publishing" now who are discovering the need for "publishers". The idea that digital media might "remove the middleman" runs up against numerous "values added" which publishers have provided in the print world: even if an epublisher masters the intricacies of formatting and copyright legalities and presentation and distribution, and user feedback (all those letters...), there still is marketing remaining -- nothing ever sold itself -- the flair, the genius, for selling things, of people like Bennet Cerf and Harry Abrams, is needed and has to be compensated in the epublishing world.

-- cost structures

But the epublishing world has new cost structures. Many of the costs of print publishing -- much of production and editorial, most of distribution, nearly all of inventory turnover and fixed overhead leasing expense -- can be eliminated now, as Amazon.com is teaching Barnes & Noble and Borders in a very hard lesson. Epublishers will need compensation, as Cerf and Abrams did, but it will be compensation for different things: marketing mostly, I would think myself, but there is plenty more still to be done in getting authors' texts to readers, even online -- witness the enormous and sophisticated but very worthwhile effort which has gone into the BNF's Ciel & Terre, here -- not your "typical Website"...

-- libraries -- online and off / new and traditional

Libraries may be vehicles which can point the way for epublishing in this. Libraries have "content", after all. "Content" is the buzzword driving much of digital information development: Bill Gates acquires the Bettman Archive for its "content"; Disney has "content"; Viacom's Sumner Redstone values Paramount for its "content". Well, libraries certainly have "content": witness the BNF's Ciel & Terre...

If -- copyright and budgeting and enormous internal political shifts which must be made permitting -- a "print library" as ancient and as "content - rich" as the old BN can transform itself into a BNF "digital library" capable of producing goods and services as sophisticated and useful as Ciel & Terre, perhaps there is some hope... Disney content and on - screen 500 - channel films are coming, but the BNF "digital library" perhaps can show them and all of us some better ways...


Finally, a few presentation points about Ciel & Terre:


The online exhibit Ciel & Terre corresponds to a physical exhibit on display at Tolbiac ("Les Figures du Ciel") and at the rue Richelieu ("Les Couleurs de la Terre") from Oct 8 to Jan 10 -- hopefully the online version will remain available much longer.

For digital library purposes it might be very valuable if the BNF would assemble and publish summary attendance and usage figures, on BIBLIO-FR and PACS-L and DIGLIBNS and elsewhere:

Félicitations, once again, to the BNF.


FYI France (sm)(tm) e-journal                   ISSN 1071 - 5916

      |           FYI France (sm)(tm) is a monthly electronic journal,
      |           published since 1992 as a small - scale, personal,
      |           experiment, in the creation of large - scale
      |           "information overload", by Jack Kessler. Any material
     / \          written by me which appears in FYI France may be
    -----         copied and used by anyone for any good purpose, so
   //   \\        long as, a) they give me credit and show my e - mail
  ---------       address and, b) it isn't going to make them money: if
 //       \\      if it is going to make them money, they must get my   
                  permission in advance, and share some of the money which
they get with me. Use of material written by others requires their
permission. FYI France archives are at http://infolib.berkeley.edu (search
fyifrance), or http://www.cru.fr/listes/biblio-fr@cru.fr/ (BIBLIO-FR
econference archive), or at http://www.fyifrance.com , or at
http://listserv.uh.edu/archives/pacs-l.html . Suggestions, reactions,
criticisms, praise, and poison-pen letters all will be gratefully received
at kessler@well.sf.ca.us .

        Copyright 1992- by Jack Kessler, all rights reserved.


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Copyright © 1992- by Jack Kessler, all rights reserved.
W3 site maintained at http://www.fyifrance.com by Jack Kessler.
Document maintained by: Jack Kessler, kessler@well.sf.ca.us
Last update: November 16, 1998