3.00 FYI France: Ejournal and archive

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

February 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 February 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


The Club of Rome, and the globe's global view

An upcoming event of interest to anyone involved in digital libraries, the Information Revolution, or libraries or Internet or multimedia or things digital generally:

-- in the spirit of The Club of Rome --

The Global Information Society: Actors and Victims
Towards a Single Model?

-- Poitiers, March 1-5 -- a chance to consider all of the above from a European, aka non - US, point of view...


I still remember my own copy of the Club of Rome's early book, The limits to growth : a report for the Club of Rome's project on the predicament of mankind -- this from a mysterious and to these American ears slightly sinister - sounding "European" organization allegedly, and very optimistically, "dedicated to the improvement of the future of humankind".

For my UK edition of this report -- (London : Earth Island, 1972) ISBN 0856440108 -- there was, I think I remember (my copy disappeared in one of many book moves over the intervening 25 years), a preface by the elegant UK Environment Secretary Peter Walker: recently - emerged from his successful and lucrative "M&A" stint at Slater - Walker, and newly - appointed overlord of Britain's largest and ugliest set of government office buildings.

There also was Snowdon's / Anthony Armstrong - Jones' gauzy, impressionistic cover photograph -- and upbeat and thoughtful and certainly very global observations by a purposefully - eclectic collection of the world's "great thinkers", of the time. Very "60s", as I think about it now: although today the pelicans are back on San Francisco Bay -- and children can breathe deeply in Paris and in London, and swim in the Rhône.

The Club of Rome -- since that early report, which so bemused world leaders, alarmed business people, enraged academics, and inspired the youth of the era -- always has represented optimism to me.

It is an optimism, moreover, of a particularly European variety: "elitist" and "un - democratic", in the American sense, but the more valuable for its objectivity -- the thoughts of an un - official, un - affiliated group of like - minded souls, European officialdom having such a tendency to cast a pall over creative thinking there -- an effort along the lines of the original Jacobins and the other "coffee house" movements which have so influenced Europe's history, or more recently of the Pugwash conferences (these in fact American), or of Constantine Doxiadis' famous boat cruises.

The outstanding preoccupation of the Club of Rome always has been to provide the "overview". Someone, somewhere, has to view things "globally", in the Club of Rome's opinion -- "globally" in the literal sense of "from the perspective of the entire earth", as well as in the more general senses of "totally and unbounded by traditional disciplines or parochial concerns". Even if the Club of Rome has not always been "optimistic" -- it forever has been viewing humankind and the earth as being in some sort of "predicament", it seems -- its view has at the very least been irrepressibly and unapologetically "global".

It is the sort of view which George Soros -- in a new book distributed to the entire White House staff by the US president with a "Read!" recommendation (of course it's true, I saw it in Time!) -- prescribes as the next step for solving the world's financial crisis: we have a global economy without a global society, says Soros, and you can't run the one without the other -- this is Club of Rome - style thinking --



Next month the Club of Rome turns its attention to what my favorite online radio announcer refers to as "the digital domain": the core of the Information Revolution, digital libraries, and what the Internet and libraries and computerization today and in the coming century are all about --


The Global Information Society: Actors and Victims
-- Towards a Single Model?

-- a blue - ribbon conference, to be held March 1-5 at the Futuroscope convention center in Poitiers -- perhaps the best occasion for a non - European to pick up the European view on what is happening with digital information, and perhaps even a good opportunity for all of us to develop a view of all of it which is truly "global".

The conference dignitaries will include:

and the presidents of France Telecom, Société Bull, and -- "digital librarians" and librarians and "book" and "information" people everywhere take note! -- Klaus Eierhoff, the head of Bertelsmann Multimedia.


The "themes" of the conference -- always a valuable clue, in Europe, to the preoccupations of the conference sponsors and leaders and decision - makers, if not necessarily to what actually gets discussed at the conference itself -- US conferences tend to have a bit closer, and less valuable, correspondence between conference themes and outcomes -- include:

-- so there is great interest in "governance" in Europe, the sort of thing which the White House and Esther Dyson and Network Solutions Inc. are trying to grapple with now in the US -- the Europeans have a keen desire to be "invited to the table", in an ecommerce development which increasingly they look to for the salvation of their recently - teetering economies. "La Grande Illusion", Alain Minc has called this sort of thinking (Grasset, 1989, ISBN 2-246-40531-9), actually referring to pan - Europeanism in general although his cynicism applies particularly to information networking's aspirations.


The Conference format:

Keynote speakers will include Manuel Castells,

Castells v.1

La société en réseaux : l'ère de l'information / Manuel Castells
(Paris : Fayard, 1998) ISBN: 2-213-60041-4 (no cover photo available)"

Castells v.2

Castells v.3