3.00 FYI France: Ejournal and archive

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

March 15, 1999 issue. This file presents an archive copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on March 15, 1999.

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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


Club of Rome bis: Nobelist Ilya Prigogine, on the "Networked Society"

More on the Club of Rome, and FWS, Futuroscope World Symposium on Network Media held at Poitiers, March 1-3 (see FYI France issue of Feb 15, at http://www.fyifrance.com ) --



Ilya Prigogine -- Comments from a Nobelist

Nobel laureates have a knack: for putting enough distance between themselves and the incredibly detailed accomplishments which earned them their prizes, enabling them to explain to us the implications of their work for ourselves and for life in general.

The late Glenn Seaborg won his prize for work of such great detail that very few humans either could or would want to understand what he had done; yet he then devoted the rest of his long life to patient, warm, simple explanations of why work such as his needed to be done, delivered humbly and magnificently to groups of schoolchildren, the elderly, high policy - makers, impatient journalists, and anyone really who would listen.

Other Nobelists, equally accomplished, have done the same: it is a community which is not very content to rest on its laurels, all of its post - prize energy perhaps best illustrating the characteristics which win such a prize in the first place.


Ilya Prigogine won his Nobel Prize -- in chemistry, in 1977 -- for work in "nonequilibrium thermodynamics, particularly the theory of dissipative structures"...

But, as with Seaborg and other Nobelists, although the work which won Prigogine his prize may have great significance, it is his work done since the award which reaches the greatest number of us most directly -- particularly those of us who trip over terms like "thermodynamics" and "nonequilibrium" and "dissipative".

Since 1977, Prigogine's activities have been many:

and his many publications over the years have included,


So, Ilya Prigogine, Nobel Laureate, to the "FWS, Futuroscope World Symposium on Network Media":



Editor's note: "blind army ants and termites"!...

There is much to guard against, in the "Networked Society", in spite of the undoubted advantages which it will bring.

Many of the dangers will be inherited: as Prigogine points out -- he was born in Russia in 1917, and lives now in Belgium, both places which have endured much of the chaos of the 20th century -- "wars, ethnic purification... war and bloodshed are not something new". Insert relevant "those who do not remember the past..." quotation, I suppose -- Prigogine has an historical sense which is lacking in most information technology writing.

Inheritance, particularly genetic inheritance and social behaviors, does not just go away. "Information technology" will not just erase it. The "Networked Society" will not solve "wars, ethnic purification... and bloodshed": it may make some of it better, it may make some of it worse -- we still will have some "blind army ants and termites", and as our human societies grow larger and more complex and more inter - dependent, albeit "networked", our proportions of "blind ants" just may increase.

So, these are the concerns of a Nobelist.

And it is interesting to see that his concerns are international, as were those of most who attended FWS at Poitiers: "Inequality between nations" is the basic worry, from Belgium and Russia and Europe and Asia -- and Africa and Latin America.

Nobelists do not "rest on their laurels", and neither should information technology: the hardest work comes after the awards and prizes. Just so, it is one thing to achieve a "networked society" within the United States, but another to ensure that such a society will be beneficial, and equal... and very much still another to extend the benefits of this -- and not its dangers -- to the rest of the world.


Thanks are due to Bertrand Schneider, Secretary General of the Club of Rome and President of the "Futuroscope World Symposium", for permission to reproduce Prigogine's remarks here.



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

      |           FYI France (sm)(tm) is a monthly electronic
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Last update: March 16, 1999