by Jack Kessler, firstname.lastname@example.org
February 15, 2015 issue. This file presents an archive copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on February 15, 2015.
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: email@example.com
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. Please email suggestions for improvements to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Multilingual access must work both ways, and too often still The Digital doesn't: think of linking-in yourself, the first time, to an online world where, predominantly, the ideas and words and even the alphabet are funny-looking... in China, India, Myanmar...
It's all still new, and that "é" and "ç" are not to be taken for granted: a short time ago they were "e'" and "c,". Now "foreign" languages are growing, online, but still Wikipedia's nearly - 5 million articles-in-English far outnumber its less than 1 million in-Chinese -- and computer manuals & many websites come written in an argot-américain plus loose translations which few among even Americans really understand. It's still largely an English-only world, in online-digital.
So, visit France, learn those strange keyboards and those websites, understand that most of the world -- even the friendly parts -- still doesn't fully understand, or agree with, where The Internet is coming-from and what it is talking about;
But it's not the first time that's happened. A young group of venture-capital-backed Renaissance printers in Lyon did the same -- gave a new convenient "container" to texts previously held only in prohibitively expensive handwritten versions cherished by elites, so producing the Reformation and ultimately in large part The Modern World.
The effects of the latest such transition-in-media, to The Digital, still are being assessed -- with some good results and some bad, so far, as the presidents of The United States and Apple Inc. debated in Silicon Valley just last week -- the one wanting to gather data to government, for fighting terrorism and identity-theft problems both largely the products of digital techniques, the other pointing out that preserving the privacy of such data, from thieves and terrorists and yes governments too, is a growing problem as well.
But information wants to be free... So better study of the techniques and effects of a previous such transition-in-media may give us better insights on this one: in Renaissance Lyon the tools, such as paper and watermarks -- the containers, such as printed books and their bindings -- and perhaps most significant of all the often-beautiful images, which once again are delighting and perhaps distracting the reading world online.
Previously we saw images rarely, so much so that Alice complained, "But of what use is a book without pictures?" But now, with The Digital -- and for just one specific example, per Pinterest's perhaps-100-million global users now allegedly online -- The Image is baaack... Will image-based communication have a revolutionary effect, socially & culturally & even politically, as powerful as the printed book and its images did?
So, visit France -- study those watermarks, those bookbindings, those images -- discuss it all, or try to, online and elsewhere, with others who "think different", and they do so, or try to, in a language other than English.
And, while you're in Lyon, in Springtime, enjoy a walk down the Rhône to the little heavily-fortified eglise d'Ainay and up the Saône to the tiny Ile Barbe, imagining The Dark Ages and How It All Began, then enjoy some of the local cuisine, & have some chocolate...:-)
Monday 22 June 2015 to Thursday 25 June 2015
The next summer Book History Workshop will take place from Monday June 22 to Thursday June 25 2015.
For the 12th edition of its Book History Workshop, the Lyon-based Institut d'histoire du livre is offering 3 advanced courses in the fields of book and printing history, taught by Neil Harris, François Vinourd and Claudio Galleri with Eléonore Litim.
The three classes run simultaneously at the enssib school, with practical sessions in the Lyon Public Library, Lyon Printing Museum and Departmental Archives. The courses are aimed at a large variety of specialists (librarians, curators, scholars, artisans, scholars, graphic designers, booksellers, students, etc.) who encounter questions related to the history of the book, printing and graphic communication in the course of their work or research. Each course is taught by a leading international expert in the field with emphasis on the study of original documents.
In order to facilitate access to collections and « hands-on » study of original documents, each class is limited to 12 students.
Course fees (one course -- 4 days):
Full price: 500 euros
Student price: 300 euros (required mandatory documents: a motivation letter, CV and a copy of your university student card)
The course fees include the provision of study materials, a welcome cocktail and tea/coffee breaks. It does not include meals and accommodation.
And now a Note:
The Internet still is a work-in-progress -- including its users and that very much includes me -- its constant changes, most of them improvements, are a growth phenomenon as fascinating as its traffic and location increases and other extraordinary achievements -- all such providing among the most amazing statistics in human history, few things we do or ever have done have grown so fast, and so far, over such a short time.
But it can be frustrating... Here, for example, with this latest posting I present a test, of the Internet but also of the users and most of all the users' systems, all of which are integral parts of that vast network-of-networks, now: my use of this ejournal -- which reaches a lot of people in very different situations -- with, courtesy of Gmail, some of the latest email innovations generally-available in embedded formatting, and links, and apps, and image reproduction and markup.
Not such a long time ago none of this would have worked together, I'd have received complaints from many that formatting looked funny, the links didn't operate, the images did not appear or appeared only as blank frames, even the texts were strange -- long ago the guy at Project Gutenberg and I had a memorable online conversation about how and even whether to depict French accents, and for a while they appeared here "comme c,a".
Times have changed, certainly, since plain-ASCII was the only character-set available online -- since "comme ça" had to be rendered "comme c,a" -- and certainly since the NSF Acceptable Use Policy days, pre-1992, when images were not available and the general public were not online and commercial-uses were not acceptable. There have been improvements.
Always, though, the commercial folks among us have understood that the most important common denominator tying the Nets together has been the users' own & often little & forever-under-powered systems -- not the "lowest" common denominator, as in some commercial and democratic senses it has been in fact the highest -- but some among us realized that the limits of the user's capacities would also be the limits of the Internet, albeit temporarily, that if the general public user could not access our data herself and via the system she had locally-available, then to that extent our gigantic and 'way-cool Internet-system wasn't really "there".
So I remember Mime-Encoding, and I still struggle occasionally with character-sets, and XML and IP improvements do not always come out well -- it all depends on system updates and capacities at the receiving, not the sending, end -- if the user in Sri Lanka or Patagonia or Rocamadour cannot read or see or otherwise use what gets sent, through different or indifferent training or the sheer lack of it, or software or hardware incapacities or incompatabilities, the latter anywhere en route throughout that long traceroute, then the send does not work, becomes a tree which fell unheard in the forest and so it did not fall.
Most easily seen, for illustration, is the hardware: the earliest tcp/ip manifestations traveled along tiny copper telephone lines to IBM PC green-screens, entered on command-lines and with output read on same -- and there were no "accents aigus" back then, anywhere, all was l'ascii américain, as per Henry Ford's famous dictum, "You can have any color you want as long as it's black..." From there to the Macintosh was a long jump. Yet even those early visionaries could not imagine & did not imagine, sometimes to their own very great personal & corporate costs, the networked information world we have today -- there have been very many long jumps" along the way -- "Only the paranoid survive", Intel's Andy Grove observed.
Now we have tiny handheld wireless mobiles in possession of insanely-large capacities, before we even get to The Cloud, mobiles in the billions and in the hands of nearly everyone, everywhere on the planet -- "Who woulda thunk it?", an americanism which translates loosely into French as, "Who woulda thunk it?".
Just so, we ourselves have trouble now picturing the networked information world we increasingly are told will be arriving tomorrow: an Internet-of-Things in which the hardware will become invisible, faded back into the woodwork the way telephony did -- banal / banalisation -- someday soon, even, each of us with a chip embedded in our neck at birth to do much of our former-digital-work for us... singularities within singularities, pace another guy at Google they're already here... Both Tim Berners-Lee & Eric Schmidt have been thinking a lot about this, recently, and so the rest of us should now too.
But it all depends on that end-user chip -- still, and as always in Internet development -- if the end-user has not updated, or has an older-model chip, or one designed to a different "standard", or insists for whatever reason on using a different character-set... That's one fundamental reason why I love studying the French: among human groups on the planet they perhaps can most be relied upon to "Think Different", in such things, nearly-always...
So if what I have sent above here, in "latest" Gmail formatting etc., does not appear at all or otherwise does not work well for you -- some of it revealed but most of it not and still more of it carefully and expertly hidden and very secretive to its purveyors -- then please let me know right away, I will be very interested to hear what currently "works" and what does not.
A good marketer always tests his market before a release -- the Customer being King, it makes no sense to sell if the Customer cannot see a thing -- but the Internet was founded upon a reverse-economics which makes the Customer do the product-testing, the infamous "beta" procedure, an often-maddening and very expensive technique, in the aggregate, which works for Silicon Valley USA but in few other places.
So anyway please let me know, if you can't read any of this, and mes apologies d'avance... It is another job of developers after all to test limits, to push them, and that is what the very good folks at Google do so well -- but if your own system is not ready for any of this it is not you who are to blame, in this "last-marginal" approach, nor is it them, it is the Internet. And we'll need to fix that.
p.s.: And please let me know, again as-always, if any of this doesn't work on a mobile -- on whichever & whatever mobile -- the ambition here having been for some time to follow the Internet herd to whatever devices and configurations currently are in-vogue... regardless of technical standards of excellence... If all this had been guided by technical standards of excellence it all would have come to a halt, many years ago, bogged down by the sheer weight of its own many complexities -- per the Protocol Wars between the TCP/IP stack and its competitors, the standards competitions and dirty tricks of US almost-free market hardware-competition, and Sergey Brin's horrified reaction to the MARC Format... the perfect being forever the enemy of the good, in engineering...
So here the Final Judge, currently, is the user's mobile: I confess I have aimed but here failed to make the entire throughput mobile-to-mobile -- me on my mobile in Noe Valley USA en direct to a user on his in Rocamadour, or in Siem Reap or Mendoza or Ubud or wherever... Bengaleeru... -- however the lack of format integration here this time defeated me, I find currently that iOS won't read Gmail & vice versa, that Zimbra handles scrolling some way that the others do not, either yet or because Zimbra has fallen behind, and that each invariably blames the other.
But 'twas ever thus: this is classically Schumpeter's creative-destruction -- competition in all of it is a constant ebb & flow, rarely stasis and never equilibrium -- just as decades ago Gates would tweak his product to frustrate Jobs, always claiming "improvement", and the latter would return the favor, so now not-always-virtuous competitors vie for platform-space, and cloud-space, and advertising-space, it's still The Wild West, online, the latest Rough Beast has not yet been tamed.
But that's the joy of it -- also the benefit, perhaps, for instance for many the job-security & profit-center & ROI-churning, at least refreshing the merchandise the way they do in any smart retail store -- and ultimately we all benefit from it... at least so far... maybe... At the very least, though, it still is interesting. So please let me know if something here does not work, this week anyway, on your mobile.
Jack Kessler, email@example.com
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 email address, and, b) it // \\ isn't going to make them money: 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 may be found on the Internet at http://listserv.uh.edu/archives/pacs-l.html (PACS-L archive), or http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/Collections/FYIFrance/, or http://www.fyifrance.com. Suggestions, reactions, criticisms, praise, and poison-pen letters all gratefully received at firstname.lastname@example.org . Copyright 1992- , by Jack Kessler, all rights reserved except as indicated above.
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