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[avignon] afternoon session

Notes on the first afternoon session. I was in the first half of this, which I am not blogging. It was ably moderated by Eric Scherer of France TV. (He looks ahead for them.)

NOTE: Live-blogging. Getting things wrong. Missing points. Omitting key information. Introducing artificial choppiness. Over-emphasizing small matters. Paraphrasing badly. Not running a spellpchecker. Mangling other people’s ideas and words. You are warned, people.

Eric asks Cynthia Fleury (philosopher): What would the Net be like without curating? We would never find out. There is no walk in the woods without a path. The idea is that this puts innovation on the periphery. But it should be in the center. 45% of Net users speak English. The typical user is male, under 35, a graduate. The network architecture revolves around the US. Only 2% [of what] is accounted for by African countries. Cultural diversity is limited, affecting curation. There are positives: A more open public space. We are all our own media, as Castells has said. Chomsky’s logic is still there, however. Friedman’s statement that the world is flat is wrong; the Internet creates more concentration and relief through curation because these aren’t open systems. FB brings you into contact with people you already knew. At the same time there is no culture without cultural co-creation. There is a utilitarian approach here; people go through three pages of Google and stop. Also you’re under pressure of breaking news, rumors, low-quality voice. So curation is important. So use different search engines, go beyond the 50th page of results. But, as PAscal says, the ground has to be prepared — you have to be open and ready to discovery. I am interested in our ability to destructure mediation — go straight to a source, bypassing the authorities. Demediation. Then you remediate: you check what you have against what the mainstream media say about it.

The former head of Google France gets asked if someday we’ll know more about the Google ranking algorithms? He says the algorithm will enter the public domain in 2014. They’ll try to keep it secret as long as possible. There’s so much at stake that it is a strategic choice by Google to say as little as possible.

Can there be neutral listing? Cynthia: No. Maybe there are good reasons to become transparent.

Gilles Babinet (Pres. opf French National Council of Digital and Eyeka). Google is a Western thing. But emerging cultures have lots and lots of mobiles. Also: I find fascinating the polarization of Net and the art. When you create a new web site, you are close to artistic creation. You have to avoid this idea that art and the Net are partitioned. It’s like the Salon that didn’t want the Impressionists; that what we have to avoid.

Gilles: I don’t know if any other country has as rich a cultural heritage as France. The French National Council ought to be making the most of it. As Pres. Sarkozy said, trying to control things is reactive and will cost more energy than it’s worth.

Cynthia: What’s most interesting about Internet: The balance between expertise and transmission. If you have successful curating, it means money to some, and learning and power to others. That’s the history of transmission. We need to have a certain amount of lack of understanding because that’s what keeps us interested and pulls us forward. The Internet is calling expertise, intellectualism, and commitment into question.

Gilles: The Americans tells us they need to find a way to protect cultural goods just as they protect technical goods.

Cynthia: Obviously I agree with that. Indigenous knowledge must enjoy IP protection. It’s crucial to know who the author of a work of art is. And it has to be passed over into the public domain.

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