Marie Marchand: The Minitel Saga: A French Success Story (1988)

18 March 2016, dusan

The only English-language monograph on the popular Videotex online service Minitel, which operated in France between 1978-2012.

“Minitel was proposed and adopted in 1978, the same year that Simon Nora and Alain Minc submitted their influential report The Computerization of Society in which they coined the term ‘telematics’. Minitel also came on the heels of a “phone-in-every-home” program (pre-dating the One Laptop Per Child project by many decades) that was proposed in 1975 by then-general manager of France Telecom Gérard Théry to increase subscriber telephone lines; Théry firmly believed the telephone was going to be the cornerstone of any computerized country – “A phone in every home is the cutting edge of a computer in every home.” Just three years later in 1978, 2500 people in the Parisian suburb of Vélizy had volunteered to use the system initially called “Teletel.” Marie Marchand tellingly writes in The Minitel Saga: A French Success Story that while “households used the system six times a month on average, consulting 20-odd services for a total connect time of one-and-a-half hours per month…”, “These overall figures concealed a number of pronounced disparities…Age disparity: people under 30 used their terminals more than those over 30. Gender disparity: women used them but little. Class disparity: top executives connected more often than midle management types, who in turn called more often than blue collar workers. Further, a flagrant disparity emerged in terms of services used. Five service providers alone accounted for over half the calls…” (53)

In 1982, instead of delivering increasingly expensive and difficult to update telephone book directories, France Telecom loaned Minitel terminals to residents all across France. By 1988, 3.5 million Minitel sets had been installed with users logging six million hours per month and taking advantage of 8000 services. And by 1999, roughly 9 million terminals could access to the network in turn used by 25 million people who took advantage of 26,000 services. By this time, not only had Minitel inaugurated an era that continues today of disparities between visible and invisible (or even absent) users based on gender, race, sexuality, and socio-economic status, but it also inaugurated the era of online pornography, the use of networks to coordinate student protests, and experiments with pseudonymous online identity.” (Lori Emerson)

Translated and adapted from the French by Mark Murphy
Publisher Larousse, Paris, 1988
ISBN 2035182409, 9782035182401
197 pages
via Lori Emerson

Resources: Minitel.org, Minitel Research Lab.

WorldCat

PDF, PDF (25 MB)

Dana Diminescu (ed.): Social Science Information journal, Special issue: Diasporas on the Web (2012)

20 November 2012, dusan

“One of the major changes affecting diasporas the world over since the 1980s has been the increasing number of communities scattered throughout physical space, along with new forms of presence, regrouping, interaction and mobilization within digital territories.

This change calls for a renewal in epistemological approaches. The topics under study, as well as the conceptual and methodological tools used to analyse them, need to be reconsidered in the face of this evolution of diasporas. The articles published in this issue of SSI1 bear witness to such an effort: researchers and engineers involved in the e-Diasporas Atlas project have sought to find the most appropriate concepts, tools and methods to explore the Web of diasporas, based on a number of case studies. This work represents a vast new area of investigation, which is still under way.

In this introduction, we examine the different conceptual tools used during the research, analyse their relevance for the different diasporic communities on the Web and present the methodological chain developed within the e-Diasporas Atlas project as well as the most important findings.” (from the Introduction)

With contributions by Dana Diminescu, Anat Ben-David, Yann Scioldo-Zürcher, Houda Asal, Marta Severo and Eleonora Zuolo, Teresa Graziano, Ingrid Therwath, Priya Kumar, Tristan Bruslé, Kristina Balalovska, Francesco Mazzucchelli

Social Science Information, December 2012; 51 (4)
Publisher: SAGE, on behalf of Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, Paris
ISSN 0539-0184
245 pages
via ach

e-Diasporas Atlas project page (includes working papers and interactive graph)

publisher

PDF

Rasa Smite: Creative Networks: In the Rearview Mirror of Eastern European History (2011/2012)

27 September 2012, dusan

Creative Networks explores the dawn of the Internet culture in the age of network society from the perspective of Eastern Europe. From a theoretical angle the networks are introduced and interpreted as complex socio-technical systems. The author analyzes the development of these networked self-organized formations starting off with ‘virtual communities’ of ‘creative networks’, which emerged during the early phase of the Internet, up to the phenomena of today’s online ‘social networks’. Along with the translocal case studies of Nettime, Syndicate, Faces and Xchange networks (as well as with the other important facets of the 1990s network culture in Europe), the author studies also local community networking case of alternative and digital culture that evolved around E-Lab in the 1990s in Latvia. By focusing primarily on the network culture of 1990s, this study reflects those changes in the social structure of today’s society that are occurring under the process of socio-technical transformation.

The book is based on a dissertation by Rasa Smite, with the title “Creative Network Communities” and was defended in Riga Stradins University, February 2011.

First published in Latvian in Riga: RIXC and Liepaja: LiepU MPLab, 2011.
Translated by Linda Vebere
Publisher Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam 2012
Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial No Derivative Works 3.0 Netherlands License
ISBN 9789081857505
160 pages

publisher

PDF