Tuesday, January 15, 2013

FYI France: Ariège 09, libraries digital & other

T his beautiful and fascinatingly-remote part of France boasts library service online, now, as well as bricks-and-mortar / paper-and-cardboard: a list of libraries and library resources in l'Ariège follows, plus some more general thoughts about online digital library services, access and le marketing, and perhaps even online book-selling --

-- researchers, remember that in France "provincial" libraries often house remarkable "finds" -- recalling the confiscations révolutionnaires which somehow never made it to Paris, and other French library-history events... -- for instance the "bibliothèque municipale" at Lyon houses a manuscript from Charlemagne's court, among its many other treasures (Ms. 619, & now you can read it online at http://florus.bm-lyon.fr/index.php);

-- also, if you are there on-sabbatical or for other reasons, these local libraries are great places just to go and read, and to accommodate accompanying-family for the same purpose -- get out of the rainy-day gîte rural or tiny hotel room -- particularly now in wintertime, these local libraries in France are warm, friendly (this isn't Big City Paris), staffed with knowledgeable and well-trained professionals, and often equipped with remarkably user-friendly in-house databases and online access -- they house great "local history" resources too, often of incomparable worth to any writer...

-- and, as always, if any of you have any corrections to offer or suggestions to make, or any personal experiences with or other information about any of the following institutions to relate, I'd like very much to hear : via mèl or mél or courriel, to kessler@well.com --


One of the wonderful things about studying librarianship in France is enjoying its street-addresses -- so be sure to notice among the above, for example, "Village", "Chapelle", "Hôtel de Ville"... few US or other outre-mer libraries can boast of a roost at, say, "Château Vicomtes"...

n.b. Online digital librarianship everywhere will lose much, if it abandons this sort of "sense of place", i.e. "Rural Route 2, postal box 39, Enid, Oklahoma", or, "Kanda, Chiyoda-Ku, Tokyo" -- an IP number just doesn't have the same "ring"... We all must guard against becoming just-ephemera on the Nets, what we do there and ourselves as well, as per the warnings of William Gibson ("Neuromancer") and Ridley Scott ("Blade Runner"), Jaron Lanier ("You Are Not A Gadget: A Manifesto"), and many others. I'm not "CA", I am "California"!

For a useful map, of Ariège library resources:

All of the above entries eventually will appear, and gradually be enhanced there, on FYI France, at --

-- but please have patience, these email ejournal postings are a devoir which I have pursued, as religiously as I can, on a monthly basis sauf août since 1992 -- the website on the other hand is a labor-of-love and, as such, gets backed-up and fleshed-out only occasionally and as time & energy permit

-- so if I delay please remind me, as some of you kindly do, and I will take a break from current Pinterest "pinning" (see below) and get the website entries done too.


And now a Note: regarding outreach, and le marketing...

For some very fine photos, and other images, of Ariège, see the following: work-in-progress, with a librarianly & bookish bias --


-- Pinterest.com is the Internet's fastest-growing site, now -- over 11 million users within a very short start-up time, currently over 25 million users, and still growing very rapidly -- Pinterest is another example, like Twitter and Facebook, of something online which began with one intention and rapidly became another thing the likes of which its founders never had imagined -- like the Internet itself --

  • The Internet, originally just getting those military-signals around a bombed-out Omaha -- now so much more...
  • Twitter, originally just "hey man wazzup" cleverspeak -- now fomenting and even creating modern global revolutions, both peaceful and non-...
  • Facebook, originally just "Harvard hotties" -- now 1+ billion-strong users worldwide, a claim which few human institutions in history ever have been able to make, with consequences financial & advertising & marketing & legal, organizational, political, social, cultural, all as-yet-untested because as-yet-conceived & implemented, but they're working on it, all of it...
  • so now comes Pinterest, originally just "socializing through images"... -- but already it is an enormous advertising-platform for the many users for whom images are more effective than text, for many purposes not just socializing, any more than the effect of Gutenberg's invention was simply to sell bibles -- "Of what use is a book without pictures?" asked Alice.

We see the future "through a glass, darkly". Also, we grow with our technologies: Columbus set out for India, Lady Ada & Charles Babbage were simply fooling around with arithmetic calculations, Sir Alexander Fleming was searching for something Entirely Different.

It's all why Isaac Asimov famously observed, "The greatest words in Science are not, 'Eureka I have found it!', but, 'Gee, that's funny...'"

Bonne route!

Jack Kesslerkessler@well.com

Saturday, December 15, 2012

FYI France: Vint Cerf, the ITU, & digital libraries

ecently I signed an appeal sent out by Vinton Cerf, a founder of the Internet, warning against net governance shifting to the International Telecommunication Union -- the Internet is the way digital libraries everywhere communicate, now, internally and externally -- excerpt, from Cerf's email-blast --

> A closed-door meeting of the world's governments is starting today. The future of the internet is on the agenda. Some governments want to use this meeting of the International Telecommunication Union to increase censorship and regulate the Internet.

> I am concerned, and I am not alone. More than 1,000 organizations from 163 countries have raised concerns about this upcoming closed-door meeting in Dubai. They are joined by hundreds of thousands of Internet users who are standing up for a free and open Internet...

-- and the following are excerpts from a website Google has devoted to the issue --

> A free and open world depends on a free and open web -- The Internet has connected more than two billion people around the world. Some governments want to use a closed-door meeting in December to increase censorship and regulate the Internet. Join together to keep the Internet free and open.

> What's at stake -- Only governments have a voice at the ITU. This includes governments that do not support a free and open Internet. Engineers, companies, and people that build and use the web have no vote.

> Pledge your support for the free and open Internet -- A free and open world depends on a free and open Internet. Governments alone, working behind closed doors, should not direct its future. The billions of people around the globe who use the Internet should have a voice.


The ITU has been meeting in Dubai, this month, discussing all this --

It's been a strange situation: a 19th century institution -- established in 1865, well before the development of the telephone or radio or TV, as the "International Telegraph Union" --


-- trying simply to grapple with, much less regulate, an invention only coming to fruition really now in the 21st century, a century this invention promises to dominate in its economics, plus in significant aspects of its politics, society and general culture.

It is the view of many, outside the anglophone world which dominates the online world currently, that this is David versus Goliath: a small team of dedicated internationalists, trying to tame a gigantic and so-far-uncontrollable "capitalist" & "commercial" juggernaut created and still controlled mostly from the enormous and currently-overly-powerful USA.

The opposition returns the know-nothing compliment, viewing Internet regulation by Others as turning-over their baby, their newest and greatest hope for human freedom, to Machiavellian control by Biggest Brother in the Orwellian sense -- to Old Europe, as a recent US Secretary of Defense notoriously labeled that place, or worse to The Dictators who still run some nation-states represented in the ITU, or to Retrograde Religions -- or to the greatest enemy, according to many current Internet developers, The Politicians... "nation-building" by the US will solve all such problems eventually, it is believed, such differences, but until then...

Simplistic views and versions, all, but much is at stake here, and mutual misunderstandings and mistrust run high and deep.

The world increasingly seems divided, these days, between those who mistrust mainly The BusinessPeople, and those who mistrust mainly The Politicians... There seems to be agreement only that no one trusts The Bankers.

For example, in the substantial "ITU" literature online, now, I first read mention of the Internet Society as an "industry group"... I suppose it must be... But until now I've always considered ISOC to be just an altruistic bunch, a group of value-free / wertfrei engineers devoted to the betterment of humankind, and somewhat innocent of the commercial mandate to "monetize", as proven during their Dotcom Bust, and of the machinations of "realpolitik". There is no wertfrei, yes...

ISOC fans must understand, however, that outside the current anglophone world, a world largely raised on the Neoconservative thinking of the Reagan and Thatcher eras, Manichean divisions in world-view are different. In the US and UK, the crucial distinctions are economic: Haves versus Have-nots, The 1% versus The Other 99%, The Other Quintiles versus Occupy, and the "trickle-down" policies and "entitlements" which both distinguish and connect the two.

Elsewhere, though, older and simpler institutional distinctions define policy debates: Government versus Industry, Public Sector versus Private Sector. So in some quarters in Europe, still, the worst thing one can label an association such as ISOC is "an industry group"... the "merely" is implied, the sarcasm and dismissal are clear...

I attended an academic European technology conference, not so long ago, at which it was suggested that "representatives of industry" be invited to attend subsequent sessions; but the conference's leading light, a distinguished university professor with a long record of government work, imperiously sniffed his disapproval at the suggestion, declaring that if "businesspeople" were to be present at future sessions he personally would not attend....


So, depending as always on who is saying it, the description of ISOC as an "industry group" is not a compliment, in many quarters -- in most quarters, outside the anglophone world.

In the ITU debates the compliment gets returned... The "Old Europe" appellation is mild, compared to the overt suspicions surrounding all Third World "democracies" -- in name only, the anglophone world seems convinced -- and particularly the worries about the leadership suitabilities of the two great Asian rivals for US hegemony now emerging, India and China. There are great fears, nearly hysterical at times, among those in the US and UK now still tenderly nursing the new Internet seedling, that the grown plant will become warped beyond recognition, by the nefarious tendencies of Petty Dictatorship and Crony Capitalism and their ilks, "overseas" somewhere.

For examples of both stances, simply punch "ITU Internet" into Google and have a look, right now... the topic is timely, everyone everywhere is chiming-in, nobody anywhere seems to want compromise of any sort, and few know anything about the topic or even have given it much thought...

But then it's a tough game. There is a lot at stake. It is important to remember though that it also is an old one: any time there is this much dissension, over something which might just be a "technical" topic, it is because broader and deeper and older issues than just the technology are involved --

This ITU tussle over the Internet is a microcosm of many old and recent and still-current social trends, from Globalization to De-Colonization to Inter-nationalism and Trans-nationalism, by way of religious and Human Rights and many other Fundamental Freedoms -- including Women's Rights and cultural sovereignty, which become heavily involved any time such issues reach what used to be called The Third World. For example some people even feel passionately about printed books -- many fearing greatly that digital technologies will decimate those, their associated cultural practices, and much human knowledge with it.

And human languages: some of us fear greatly that the french language, for example, will disappear -- in the still largely-anglophone onslaught of The Digital -- while others among us feel that the Internet is the greatest hope for, among many current linguistic practices, la francophonie. [see Jack Kessler, "Mondialisation, internet et francophonies", in Bulletin des Bibliothèques de France Lyon, ENSSIB, t. 57 no. 6 p. 9, ISSN 1292-8399, http://bbf. enssib.fr/sommaire/2012/6 -- forthcoming].


The ITU Dubai conference offers fascinating reading, and video-viewing, of all these current and many other very-pressing issues:

-- importantly, though, for understanding the intractability of both this conference and its general topic, is noticing how formerly-unrelated to its topic many of the issues discussed in this WCIT-12 conference are -- the Internet is new, much of what concerns people about it though is very, very old, issues we are not going to resolve soon, and certainly not if that resolution must be a prelude to our globalizing any sort of democratic management of our Internet.

The ITU's conference initial outcome, just-announced, seems as-so-often inconclusive: some nation-states, the ones which "don't count" some will say, voted yes -- on a draft treaty which seems doomed, GreeceGate-like, to become a can forever kicked further down the road -- the Big nation-states, which "count", voting no and so condemning the document and its intentions to withering on the vine from delay, or to oblivion.

On the other hand this is, like so many other international treaties, perhaps just a first step: the International Criminal Court took many years, too, so did Land Mines, so have Nuclear Non-proliferation, Environmental Protection, Human Rights, Law of the Sea, Space Law, Animal Rights, and so do other high-principled efforts considered by some to be impractical, at first and at various times later -- these things take on lives of their own, sometimes exceeding the life-spans of those who initiate them, but they must be begun somewhere, at some time, by someone... in that sense it is fitting that an elderly institution with a long memory, like this ITU founded 150 years ago, at least begin the process...


There are interesting wrinkles, in the ITU conference vote: France voted "non", the USA and Canada and the UK and Switzerland all voted no -- China voted yes and India voted no -- Russia and Haiti and Thailand and Afghanistan all voted yes --


-- let others speculate, political scientists & political junkies both, about the interest-group-blocs these votes represent, remembering always that "polyarchy" (Robert Dahl) rules, that the declared topic of any conference never is the sole topic of interest to its participants...

And the travaux préparatoires as always are interesting: few treaties or contracts or agreements of any sort -- or for that matter disagreements -- ever are without their pre-existing ideas and pre-conceived positions --


-- much that is there, among the various "Proposals for the Work of the Conference", provides clues to the vote-outcomes in the previous link, but more importantly to the current mindsets which largely pre-determine those outcomes -- read the extreme negativity, in several of the Proposals, before you think that any of this conferencing ever has been easy, or is going to be easy going forward.

For example the US, as sponsoring-parent, tried at least to be diplomatic to those who now would take-over the further training of its Internet-baby:


-- while Europe was more blunt, perhaps befitting diplomats with older and more thorny memories of dealing with many of the other signatories on the list -- not all of the Europeans, but some -- "Who do I call if I want to call Europe?", Henry Kissinger famously complained, still a problem... --

http://www.itu.int/md/S12-WCIT12-C-0016/en -- not an easy task then, no, convincing nation-states with vested interests and set positions, or others with overlapping and conflicting priorities, to change, or to update, or to learn a new trick or certainly to absorb an entirely-new overall approach.

So, a note to Violet Blue, who says on Twitter, inter much alia about all this -- for a fun account of the conference read her postings there, @violetblue -- "Countries now refusing to sign #ITU's #WCIT12 internet treaty: Japan, Denmark, Costa Rica, Qatar, Czwch Republic, Poland, all EU." --

-- these things change, Violet Blue, an ITU conference is just a slice-in-time, very like a Twitter posting -- it wasn't entirely-true yesterday, and it won't be entirely-true tomorrow, processes take a long time and soundbites are just an instant of that. One problem with the digital world is that it's just soundbites, so far -- 20 years is just a soundbite, in things-political -- 120 years is just that, too, in things-political-international -- that's why maybe it's best that an organization with a 150-year institutional memory is tackling this, now, they / it knows things don't change overnight, too, but that they must be begun if they are to change at all -- so if among your worries is one that "perennial start-up" might not be the best model for the Internet going forward, well, with all the Bad Guys out there already messing with it, take heart because the ITU is Here, and at least is looking at that now... not that they are the White Hats, but their hats are not as black as some...


Finally, then, here is a thought for Violet Blue and for Vint Cerf and for anyone Really Worried: my own personal initial reaction to Cerf's circular letter -- worried as I personally would be by digital libraries being placed under the closer direction of Dictators or Cronies or Corporations or Politicians, "foreign" or other --

The issue is not the Internet's being taken over by The World Order, it is what sort of World Order will we have when it takes over the Internet -- it may be a very different World Order, and Internet, by then.

ITU control of the Internet is a frightening yet inevitable prospect. The Internet can't stay a "start-up" forever. The World wants in -- and the World does "think different" than the US does. So, not whether-to-do-it, but how-to-get-there-from-here, is the question.

My own suggestion is to change not, or not just, the Internet, but also the ITU -- make the ITU more broadly-representative in the modern sense, no longer beholden simply & only to the "nation-states".

This is an era of trans-nationalism, globalism, soft power -- Joseph Nye is a start, he started it, although it's a general & leading theme in international relations now, see also many others -- Nye has written the following --

  • The Future of Power (PublicAffairs, 2011)
  • The Future of Power (Oxford University Press, 2008)
  • Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics (PublicAffairs, 2004)
  • Power in the Global Information Age: From Realism to Globalization (Routledge, 2004)
  • The Paradox of American Power: Why the World's Only Superpower Can't Go it Alone (Oxford University Press, 2002)
  • Understanding International Conflicts: An Introduction to Theory and History, 7th ed. (Longman, 2008)
  • Power and Interdependence: World Politics in Transition, co-authored with Robert O. Keohane (Little Brown and Company, 1977; Longman, 2000)

-- the ITU, like the UN and all our now-elderly international institutions, needs updating to all these new standards -- only then can it manage something as bleeding-edge-amorphous as the Internet, or frankly as the other modern telecommunications systems the ITU tries to manage already, all of which the Internet is transforming now, rapidly and completely.


So Cerf is right about what he says; but the Internet is changing anyway -- rapidly, radically, continuously -- the ITU needs to respond, to all this innovation, and to change itself as well. When it is more representative, and better-representative, of what people everywhere want, then we -- all of us, not just US Americans and not just Chinese, or Jamaicans, or Argentinians -- will have better confidence in surrendering some power to it.

It's political validity -- see Hans Kelsen and many others, about that -- that's a problem faced by the political efficacy of the International Criminal Court & the World Trade Organization & the European Union & Non-Proliferation and many other international organizations and efforts, now -- that it does no good to be effective if you are not politically-valid, because sooner or later your political support will evaporate and leave you hanging in the wind, useless.

The old UN was founded upon a nation-state concept, but the modern world increasingly is not just inter-national but trans-national, including its libraries, and its digital libraries: we need trans-national thinking, in our institutions like the ITU now -- without it they're just headless, and lack political support, and it will continue to be a jungle out there.

But Merry Christmas anyway!


Jack Kessler, kessler@well.com

Thursday, November 15, 2012

FYI France : multilingual cyberespace

e-visiting a book published last Spring -- http://www.fyifrance.com/Fyarch/fy120315.htm -- herewith recent news and debate about that interesting work, plus some others -- again via my translations of postings by Hervé Le Crosnier --

> Hello,

> Last Spring, C&F éditions published the book,

> Net.lang : réussir le cyberespace multilingue [Net.lang : succeeding in multilingual cyberspace]

> -- a product of the Maaya Network, the book was coordinated by Laurent Vannini and Hervé Le Crosnier --

> The book was supported by L'union Latine, l'UNESCO, la Francophonie, le CRDI (Canada) and l'ANLoc (Afrique du Sud). We assembled over thirty articles from language specialists, all over the world, evaluating the effect of the Internet upon the promotion and preservation of threatened languages.

> A reference work, Net.langue covers:

  • technique -- standards, naming, search engine multilingualism notably for Asian languages;

  • the situation of languages in the world and in cyberspace, an analysis;

  • preservation and revitalization of languages in danger or threatened with extinction, what we must understand first;

  • a humanistic approach to languages, and its implications, for example in sign language, or in the acquisition of maternal language.

> The book Net.lang will be presented, with the assistance of most of its authors, during the,

> Troisième symposium international sur le multilinguisme dans le cyberespace [Third International Symposium on Multilingualism in Cyberspace]

> -- which will be held from November 21 to 23 at,

    Amphithéâtre Marie Curie
    3, rue Michel-Ange

> Presentation and inscription form:

> This book was the subject of a debate which took place May 3 at the Maison de l'Interdisciplinarité, Institut des Sciences de la Communication of the CNRS. The first videos of that encounter now are available on the video link of C&F éditions on YouTube:

> The book is available as follows:

> Sincèrement,

> Hervé Le Crosnier




Note by JK:

Multilingual access remains one of the Nets' greatest challenges. Since the earliest days of ASCII -- before Microsoft ASCII and IBM ASCII and Extended ASCII, ISO 8859-1, countless other flavors... -- the digital world has had a hard time with accents aigus, composing things "comme ca" or "comme c,a" and only recently "comme ça" -- and even now, in 2012, someone somewhere will write to me complaining that the last did not render well on her particular interface.

And no one, anywhere, has begun to tackle the "grey literature" problem in this: still only available in English, and that incomprehensible to even a native speaker, are all the instruction manuals and shrinkwrap agreements -- adhesion contracts, those used to be called, and they were illegal then for public policy reasons still valid now -- and sales blurbs, and unhelpful Help pages and Userblogs and wikis, which beset so much of technology's worlds.

And now, joy, we have voice interfaces, all of them struggling mightily with even regional accents in a single language: so now it's not even enough that a user must speak the supposedly-primary argot, s/he must carefully avoid anything which smacks of Mississippi or Alabama, or Maine, or Cockney or Breton or la Dordogne, in addressing such systems. But the customer is king, designers will discover that their systems must change to suit the users, not the other way around.

It's not a perfect world. We were naive, in the beginnings -- until the updates really get updated, for all users everywhere & instantaneously, and until all commercial vendors get together and stay together on these things, and perhaps until innovation stands still -- these things will continue to change, underlying encodings alter, improvements cause anomalies, users complain that their accents aigus "look funny".

This may be a Good Thing. Harry Truman's, "Show me an efficient government and I'll show you a dictatorship", applies also to technology -- we need innovation, creativity, change -- commercial markets, like electoral campaigns, do not "abhor" uncertainty, they thrive upon it.

But if we are to retain our democracy, our variety, the flexibilities and fluidity which keep our lives exciting and productive, we must anticipate mistakes, anomalies, user complaints, incongruities -- and languages which "look funny" on-screen. No the Entire World is not going to speak English, or know how to -- Umberto Eco described some of the folly in that very wish in his The Search for a Perfect Language (1997), and there have been other eloquent warnings -- so we might as well get used to, and even enjoy, the variety.




Intrepid publisher C&F éditions again, then: notes on three of their other books of interest here, again translated by me --

  • Enjeux de mots [Wordplays]
    > Good news for the libraries which do not yet have this book, which we thought was out of print: doing our inventory we found 20 copies. Enjeux de Mots is an encyclopedia constructed around various Internet terms and written by over 25 authors located on 4 continents. It is multilingual, each article appears in French, English, Spanish and Portuguese. The texts are available online:

    > http://vecam.org/article603.html

    > -- so we have 20 printed works in 4 languages available again, primarily for libraries and their reference sections.


  • Dans le Labyrinthe : l'évaluation de l'information sur internet, par Alexandre Serres [In the Labyrinth: the evaluation of information on the Internet, by Alexandre Serres]

    > The labyrinth has not discouraged its readers, so we are proceeding to a second printing. The presentation of his book, by Alexandre Serres, may be viewed on YouTube:

    > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKaOo4sfTik

    > -- this video easily may be exported / downloaded for viewing on the blogs of schools or libraries.


  • Libres savoirs : les biens communs de la connaissance [Free Thoughts: the Common Goods of knowledge]

    > It is rare that a book becomes the signal for a revolution of new activity in the public sphere. This is what has happened, however, with the book Libres Savoirs, which is at the heart of the creation of the group savoirCom1, begun in September, which is launching a variety of initiatives in defense of the Knowledge Commons.

    > http://www.savoirscom1.info/

    > Because it explores the variety of efforts under way regarding the Knowledge Commons, from freeware to farmers' rights, Libres Savoirs remains a reference work indispensable for this rapidly-developing theory.




So, the Outside View : people in France, and elsewhere, presenting and discussing and debating ideas which, to us in the US and the anglophone world generally, may look very strange and very foreign.

Because they are... The question being, in our rapidly-globalizing world, whether the isolated island "cut off by fog" is them, or us?

Bonne lecture,


Jack Kessler, kessler@well.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 as long as, a) they give me credit and show my email address, and, b) it isn't intended to make them any money : if it is intended to make them money, they must obtain my permission in advance, and share some of the money which they receive with me. Use of material written by others requires their permission. FYI France archives may be found at:

Suggestions, reactions, criticisms, praise, and poison-pen letters all gratefully received at kessler@well.sf.ca.us .

Copyright 1992- , by Jack Kessler,
all rights reserved except as indicated above.


Monday, October 15, 2012

FYI France : Voltaire & Du Châtelet, 4 Sale? a digital appeal...

ne of the greatest opportunities provided by digital libraries is preservation -- of digital versions of printed and manuscript works, and of the originals themselves. Herewith, then, a last-minute appeal for saving an extraordinary collection of originals, one going on-sale the week after next: a collection well-worth protecting from commercial dispersal... in proper archival-order... with finding-aids... and global public access via online digitized copies... and meticulous HVAC etc. preservation of the originals for careful scholarship... we don't want to find these framed as individual "collectibles" sheets of old paper on the scattered walls of some global "Voltaire-Châtelet Hotels" chain, someday...




The appeal itself appears below: shortcut -- http://fonds-voltaire.org/edc1/

First here, though, a description: of Voltaire and Du Châtelet and their life together at Cirey, an era productive of so many topics of interest -- from The Enlightenment to The French Revolution to The Industrial Revolution, The Role of Women, and the private lives of this remarkable pair -- all described in invaluable detail by these documents now being put up for sale -- the following translated by me from,



> Among the lieux de mémoires embodying the Enlightenment, few names resonate more than does the Château de Cirey in Champagne, where for fifteen years Voltaire lived with Émilie Du Châtelet, after the publication and the censorship of his, Lettres philosophiques.

> The site still evokes the legendary couple, a rare combination of heart and soul, the intellectual intensity of an exceptional encounter.

> It was at Cirey that Voltaire wrote his, Éléments de la philosophie de Newton, his, Traité de métaphysique, his, Discours en vers sur l'homme. Other works which would distinguish his career were begun here, as well : le Siècle de Louis XIV, l'Essai sur les mœurs, La Pucelle, among others.

> Émilie studied, at Cirey, the sciences, math and physics above all, with the passion she devoted to everything she undertook, producing for example the first annotated French translation of the famous Principia mathematica of Newton, which she finished a few days before her death in 1749.

> In 1765 ownership of the château passed to the son of Émilie, Louis-Marie-Florent, who in 1789, just before the taking of the Bastille, gave it to his niece, Diane-Adélaïde de Damas, Mme de Simiane. After this Cirey would remain in the Damas family until the end of the 19th century.

> The chateau was emptied during the Revolution: when Mme de Dimiane re-took possession of it she was unable to find a single chair. One would think the archives of the Du Châtelets and the library of Cirey would have been dispersed or destroyed, but this was not the case, and in 2010 we found that the library and archives from the château still existed, having survived the Revolution.

> In 1892 the library was installed in the new house of the Damas family, built for them in the countryside north of Cirey, and the archives were stored in the attic in ten large wooden cases. They may be found there today, a century later...

> The actual archives of the family, a vast collection dating from the 13th c. to the Revolution, were deposited in August 2012 with the Archives départementales de la Haute-Marne at Chaumont.

> The scientific and personal manuscripts of Émilie Du Châtelet and Voltaire, however, will be sold at auction at Paris on October 29, 2012.

> Among these are many documents of exceptional interest:

  • A manuscript of, Éléments de la philosophie de Newton, the very one presented by Voltaire to Émilie Du Châtelet, inscribed with the handwritten notes of both;

  • The manuscripts of the, Exposition abrégée du système du monde selon les principes de monsieur Newton, abundantly hand-corrected by Mme Du Châtelet, which was missing when her translation was deposited at the Bibliothèque du Roi, just before her death;

  • Two manuscripts of her intensive and unknown study on the optics of Newton;

  • Various notes in the handwriting of Voltaire;

  • Workbooks of Mme Du Châtelet on geometry, arithmetic, optics;

  • Documents about the furnishing of the chateau in 1746;

  • Émilie's account-books, offering an incomparable record of life-at-Cirey;

  • Her correspondance with her estate manager, another precious source of historical information;

  • A volume of notes on the history of religion, used by Mme Du Châtelet, both for her own studies and for work in collaboration with Voltaire.

>The national government authorities, Archives Nationales, and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, all immediately were advised of these discoveries, and all are doing their best. Pre-emptive interventions are being studied -- but it is clear that the safeguarding of this exceptional patrimonial collection will depend in great part on the welcome which you accord to this public appeal by the Fonds De Dotation Voltaire.

> It is urgent to move on this, to alert others whom you know, and to donate, even modestly...

> To contribute to the safeguarding of the manuscripts of Émilie Du Châtelet, please follow this link --

> http://fonds-voltaire.org/edc1/

> This appeal for donations has been launched by the Fonds De Dotation Voltaire with the approval of the Archives de France and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.

> All contributions received will be turned over to the public organizations which acquire the manuscripts of the October 29 sale. The donations turned over will not be cashed until after the sale has been held.




The appeal itself --

> From: Andrew Brown
> To: exlibris-l@list.indiana.edu
> Sent: Sun, 30 Sep 2012 05:02:17 -0700 (PDT)
> Subject: ["EXLIBRIS-L"] Du Châtelet manuscripts -- appeal for donations

> May I encourage members of the list to drawn the attention of their contacts to the appeal for donations that has been launched to help the French State acquire the manuscripts of Émilie Du Châtelet and Voltaire that will be sold at auction in Paris by Christie's on 29 October?

> The appeal, undertaken with the approval of the Archives de France and the Bibliothèque nationale de France, aims to assist public libraries and archives in France to preempt at the sale. All contributions received will be made over to the public bodies able to make purchases on 29 October. Payments made will not be banked until after the sale.

> Substantial tax credits are available to those paying tax in France and all donors may appear, if they wish, on the published list of donors.

> Donations play a double role, financial and moral. All contributions, at whatever level, support the decisions that must soon be taken by those who will determine the public funding available.

> Donations can be made by French cheque, Visa or Mastercard, bank transfer (all charges at the expense of the donor, please) and by Pay Pal.

> These links may be useful:

> With thanks for all that you can do to pass the word.


> Andrew Brown, Président
> Fonds de dotation Voltaire
> 26 Grand'rue
> F-01210 Ferney-Voltaire

> Téléphone: 04 50 28 06 08
> Fax: 09 59 34 42 11
> Courriel: contact@fonds-voltaire.org
> W3: http://fonds-voltaire.org




Note [by JK]:

One of the greatest opportunities provided by digital libraries is preservation, as I said initially here. Sometimes, amid the sound & fury of our daily lives... -- personal & professional &, this Fall in the US anyway, political -- it's an inundation, I know -- but unique opportunities still do arise to Make A Difference.

Saving this collection and archiving it is one-such, I suggest... So much the better, then, if the online digital and preservation and scholarly skills particularly-represented among readers here are particularly-relevant to the tasks needed for this.

I earnestly hope a Mæcenas or 3 might emerge -- see the links and other contacts information shown above, and please use them.

In addition, there is vindication available here for so much that so many of us have worked so hard on: let's conserve and preserve and make accessible these fascinating things -- that is what we are good at, and it's what "digital libraries" are all about.


Jack Kessler, kessler@well.com 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

FYI France: typography and Europe

f you will be in or near Lyon, in October, or even if you won't: a conference plus a "day of study" -- of interest to anyone fascinated with The Book, certainly, but also anyone interested in Victoriana, or machinery, or design, or history, Europe, culture, industrial evolution, telecommunications, just plain communications whether "tele-" or not, newspapers, placards, paper, cities, transitions-in-media, personal expression, tools... aand very much including The Digital, and The Internet... --

>Announcing: a day for studying our typographic patrimony, in conjunction with the congress of the Association of European Printing Museums.

>The Musée de l'Imprimerie, Lyon, welcomes, October 11-13, the congress of the Association of European Printing Museums / AEPM, which includes over sixty printing museums in Europe.

>In conjunction with these meetings, a day of study devoted to techniques of conservation, preservation, and the use of typographic patrimony, will take place on Friday, October 12.

>The presentations:

  • James Mosely, Professor in the Department of Typography and Graphic Communication, University of Reading, United Kingdom -- "The state of typographical heritage: preservation, study and evaluation - an overview of European typographical collections."

  • Guy Hutsebaut, specialist in graphic technique, Musée Plantin-Moretus, Anvers, Belgium, with Patrick Storme, Department of the Conservation of Metallic Objects, Artesis University College, Anvers -- "Research on corrosion of lead printing types in the collections of the Plantin-Moretus Museum."

  • Richard Southall, specialist in digital typography, United Kingdom : "There's no body there: conserving dematerialised type."

  • Alice Savoie, font designer, France / United Kingdom -- "International cross-currents in typeface design during the phototypesetting era: the value to researchers of public and private typographic archives."

  • Andrea De Pasquale, Directeur of the Bibliothèque nationale Braidense de Milan and of the Bibliothèque universitaire de Turin -- "Exploring 18th century typographical production through the unexploited archives of Giambattista Bodoni."

  • Mathieu Lommen, Conservateur des collections graphiques, Bibliothèque de l'université d'Amsterdam -- "The value of typographical archives for publications and teaching."

  • Charlotte Delannée, Johan Seivering, Andréas Schweitzer, Association pour le patrimoine industriel, Suisse -- "Towards a systematic and semantic inventory of printing heritage materials."


>A publication -- La lettre en Europe, Type in Europe -- will accompany this Congrès 2012...

>This day-of-study, which will take place at the Musée de l'Imprimerie [in Lyon], is open to all who are interested in typographical heritage, to the extent that places are available.

>Tarifs : 25 € pour la seule journée de conférences. 65 € avec cocktail (18 h) + dîner (20 h) avec l'ensemble des délégués des musées de l'imprimerie européens.

>Chèque à l'ordre de "l'Association des Amis du Musée de l'imprimerie", à envoyer avec ses coordonnées complètes aux,

Amis du Musée de l'imprimerie
13, rue de la Poulaillerie
69002 Lyon

>Contact: bernadette.moglia@mairie-lyon.fr Musée de l'imprimerie: http://www.imprimerie.lyon.fr 13, rue de la Poulaillerie, 69002 Lyon





And now a Note: about Europe...

One of life's more interesting pleasures is to linger, fly-on-the-wall, at one of these European cultural events, such as the one announced and described above.

There is a special energy, in this place so distinguished by the extreme variety in its many different approaches to life. To watch the mingling of representatives from County Sligo, the Mezzogiorno, Catalonia, al Andaluz, Silesia, Flanders, Wales and Bretagne and Savoie and all the rest, as they assemble to discuss, debate, argue animatedly about their shared European Patrimony.

To an Outsider, particularly one from a larger and perhaps more unitary place -- the US or China or India, Indonesia, Australia, Russia, Brazil -- or from a place far older -- Japan -- modern Europe is the oddest combination of differences and similarities.

The place is tiny, Europe, as any visitor from the Great US Midwest, or the vast Russian Steppes, or the Outback's Alice Springs, or the Sovereign State of Texas, will attest -- as a senator from Texas famously advised a US President, regarding a wartime speed limit of 55 mph, "Mis-ter President, you can't get anywhere in Texas going only 55 miles per hour!"

European autopiste & autostrada & autobahn speedsters regularly traverse their entire "continent" at speeds far in excess of that -- these days still, and speed limits set recently in some places notwithstanding -- haphazard enforcement, it's a difficult & dangerous duty, I remember the French police chasing them in police sports cars....

You can cross an entire European nation -- with its own unique languages and traditions and cultures, all above-all different from its nearest neighbors -- in the time it takes to get from Alice Springs to Nowhere, or around or through Los Angeles or Tokyo, or from Shanghai to its suburbs on a non-gridlocked-day in China.

So to such an outsider, someone from Omaha or Osaka -- or these days more likely Suchow or Mumbai, on one of those whirlwind "If it's Tuesday this must be Belgium" packaged-tour initial visits -- little Europe might seem a unified whole, similar people doing similar things in similar ways.

But then you begin to spot the differences --

First, languages: in Tamil Nadu, everywhere in that beautiful place except in the centers of the biggest cities, they speak, well, Tamil -- not even Hindi, too much -- while in Europe at any gathering everyone speaks several.

Then, technique: in the UK they still drive on the Wrong Side -- I hope the Scots won't change that... chaos at Hadrian's Wall... -- I have a very funny photo on my Pinterest "Whaat?" board of, "The first day in Sweden they switched from driving on the left to driving on the right".

Then, food: I imagine "breakfast" in Perth and Yarraville, that's 2000+ Australian miles, is pretty much the same -- but two neighboring villages in any given European countryside bake their morning bread very differently, as any motorcycle-riding visitor there can attest -- a difference maintained very deliberately in Europe, I'm told, "artésenal" licensing and "Brussels" uniformities notwithstanding.

But back to the meeting-room, and that upcoming European "congrès"...

I always have been amazed at the variety of approach, in any given European meeting. It is a variety which made Luigi Barzini proud (The Europeans, 1983). It comes out greatly at any cultural event: poets, painters, musicians -- there is less in-common, in a European event, than there is in any similar event I've ever attended anywhere else. It's very stimulating, makes one pause and Think Different. So I hope there'll always be a Europe, at least to make us monolithic globalizing giants remember to think, "variety!"

This particular European event should be fascinating -- like any event arranged by the Institut d'Histoire du Livre / IHL -- or Lyon's equally-excellent Musée de l'Imprimerie, or its richly-endowed Bibliothèque Municipale.

n.b. that last safeguards, among many other "wonderful things", an ms. in their collection from the library of no less than Charlemagne... 800 a.d., Alcuin et al., imagine!... -- see Bob Peckham's site: Consulting Medieval Manuscripts Online --


-- and for mss. at the BMLyon itself,


Bonne lecture,


Jack Kessler, kessler@well.com

Sunday, July 15, 2012

FYI France : Europeana digital library Newspapers Project

Worth-a-visit -- for any fans or foes of Google Digital Libraries, or GoogleBooks, GoogleScholar, Google Books Library Project, or Amazon's Kindle, or Apple's iBook Author or iTunes Producer, or Barnes & Noble's Nook, or the BnF's Gallica, or Project Gutenberg's Project Gutenberg, or Artelittera Téléchargement, or ebooks or Epub, etc. -- or the many online digital Theories Of Everything surrounding all & each -- it's Europeana's recent announcement --

"Press Release, The Hague, 26th of June 2012 : Launch of the Europeana Newspapers Project"

"A group of 17 European partner institutions have joined forces in the Europeana Newspapers project to, over the next 3 years, provide more than 18 million newspaper pages to the online service Europeana ."

For any of us who have fought the various battles involved in newsprint -- from acid paper to indexing or more often the inadequacy or complete lack thereof, from storage questions to microfilm's manifold issues and complex secondary and tertiary intellectual property agendas, and above all the thorny lineages of news outfits, which change their names and swallow one another or get swallowed as often as the rest of us change our socks -- the sheer courage of such an announcement is impressive...


"Europeana is a single access point to millions of digitised books, paintings, films, museum objects and archival records sourced from throughout Europe. The Europeana Newspapers project is funded under the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Program 2007-2013 of the European Commission with the aim of aggregation and refinement of newspaper content through The European Library.

"Each library participating in the project will distribute digitised newspapers and full-text via Europeana. The project aims to make the newspaper content directly accessible for users through a special interface within the content browser. This will be integrated into the Europeana portal and will allow queries of phrases or single words within the newspapers' texts. This goes far beyond the standard libraries catalogue search functions which usually allow the searching by date or title only."

As to that last, well... Indexation of newspapers anywhere in the past has ranged from none-at-all to erroneous -- even fine attempts have run afoul often of the "editions game", their own indexing failing to account accurately for differences, in an article's update version or even publication at all, in any given outfit's West Coast or Weekend or Local or National or European or Far East etc. "edition"... Researchers, and research librarians, tear their hair...


"The project addresses challenges linked with digitised newspapers such as Optical Character Recognition (OCR), Optical Layout Recognition (OLR), article segmentation and page class recognition, and named entity recognition (NER). OCR is the electronic conversion of scanned images of handwritten, typewritten or printed text into machine-encoded text. OLR is concerned with the detection and separation of articles on a scanned page with more than one article. NER seeks to locate entities in the full text and to classify them according to standardised names for persons, locations, and organisations."

It will be fascinating to see what new tricks -- techniques & approaches & degrees of understanding -- the Europeans will bring to bear on these old problems, some of which are very old indeed. Language policy and publication have struggled with weird character sets and layout and naming conventions for millennia, in Europe: through several Ages of Incunabula and various publication formats -- manuscript, print, radio & movies & tv, and now digital -- the problems always have been not just technical, also legal & political & social, cultural. What improvements will the latest digital innovations bring -- what new wrinkles in new solutions to the very old problems?


"The project will also evaluate the quality of the refinement technologies and transform the local metadata into the Europeana Data Model standard in close collaboration with stakeholders from the public and private sector."

As I just mentioned, "The problems always have been not just technical, also legal & political & social, cultural..."


"The Europeana Newspapers project is co-ordinated by the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz. Follow the advancements of the Europeana Newspapers project at www.europeana-newspapers.eu. For any further information please contact Hans-Jörg Lieder or Thorsten Siegmann at Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, via,

Project Partners:

  • Berlin State Library
  • National Library of the Netherlands
  • National Library of Estonia
  • Austrian National Library
  • University of Helsinki
  • National Library of Finland
  • Hamburg State and University Library
  • National Library of France
  • National Library of Poland
  • CCS Content Conversion Specialists GmbH
  • LIBER Foundation
  • National Library of Latvia
  • National Library of Turkey
  • University of Beograd
  • University of Innsbruck
  • Dr. Friedrich Tessmann Library
  • The British Library
  • University of Salford
  • The European Library


"Europeana is a multi-lingual online collection of millions of digitized items from European museums, libraries, archives and audiovisual collections. Currently Europeana gives integrated access to 23 million books, films, paintings, museum objects and archival documents from some 2,200 content providers from across Europe.




A Note:

Kudos to these librarians, and others, anywhere and everywhere, who undertake newspapers recon projects such as this one. As any exhausted & double-visioned microfilm or microfiche user will attest, newspaper research is a difficult task -- yet any historical researcher also knows its inestimable value, in research there is little hard evidence comparable to the immediacy of news reports and current events analysis.

Well-considered weighty tomes written many years later may get the history right. But history is not what people experience, they experience the news, the current events, with its uncertainties, rumors, unverified reports, unlikely sets of always-complicated circumstances: without some knowledge of these, and an appreciation of their significance in people's real lives, we cannot appreciate the significance of events in our own -- their importance, also very often their lack of importance -- preserving "the news", then, helps us greatly, we can better see events of history through the eyes of those who were there, and that helps us better understand our own.

Any set of decision-maker "mémoires" can be used to support this -- all of them accounts from "the fog of war", valuable as much for their reminder that wartime gets foggy and decision-making takes place in times of uncertainty, as that certainty and conclusions taken at the time very often look very odd later on -- from Julius Caesar's analysis of his invasions of Gaul, to Condoleeza Rice's reasons offered, in her lucid recent mémoires, for the US invasion of Iraq -- yet the mémoires make great reading, the weighty tomes more often not so -- as a famous anecdote explains,

    "Professional historians do not esteem William Shirer. His historical books are simplistic in interpretation, unbalanced in coverage, superficially researched and full of wrongheaded theories. Worst of all, they sell like crazy..."

      -- William Sheridan Allen, historian

So let's save the newspapers! We'll want to know what they said: what they told us, what we told others in them, how we all felt about it at the time -- all before we'd had a chance to think too much but nevertheless were forced to act.


Jack Kessler, kessler@well.com

Friday, June 15, 2012

FYI France : Grimaud, an Online Global Musical Évènement

FYI France (since 1992) -- http://www.fyifrance.com
File 3: Ejournal & archive, by Jack Kessler, kessler@well.sf.ca.us -- archive copy of an EXTRA issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, distributed via email on June 15, 2012, and a little later here on http://fyifrance.blogspot.com, and on Facebook at Jack Kessler's "Notes".


he French pianist and devotee of wolves, Hélène Grimaud, is doing a really interesting experiment in online music, presented and now even performed "globally": as a benefit for her Wolf Conservation Center, located in Westchester County, New York -- I bet you didn't realize that Westchester is this "wild"! -- she has arranged,

* a webcast

-- aired yesterday, June 14, Grimaud and cellist Jan Vogler played,

Schumann ~ 3 Fantasiestücke -- fine video work, up-close & intimate focus far better than any theater-seat could provide, wonderful sound on an iMac -- the two performers play well together, very "in-tune" with one another, for this very "in-tune with one another" piece -- Grimaud radiant and focussed, Vogle intense and precise;

Debussy ~ Sonata -- at first mysterious, then fun, with passages for both instruments which must be extraordinarily difficult to play;

Shostakovich ~ Sonata -- lyrical, then a folk-dance, wild & Russian with strange cello effects and some absolutely-percussive piano fingering, then the sad and mournful section creating a truly magical moment, and finally what sounded like dancing again, wrapping things up, with what looked like tremendous work for both players -- Grimaud like her wolves with beautiful eyes and occasional flashing smile, great passion in her playing -- Vogler one-with-his-instrument, eyes closed in his intensity but that focused us on his music too. What a piece -- what a performance!

-- waves of applause, from what appeared to be at least 50 in the audience, then two encores --

Ernst Bloch's very moving Prayer,

Brahms' E minor sonata opus 38, the final movement, the audience swaying to the familiar and powerful music

-- all live at "Richard Gere's Bedford Post Inn, Old Post Road, Bedford, New York, a Relaix & Chateaux property..." -- the place looks perfectly beautiful, in what little we were shown of the recital room and nice windows with pretty garden beyond -- probably a wonderful setting -- and there was Gere himself, looking his Rockstar Hollywood-best, he escorted-in his VIPs and gave them both a handsome and eloquent introduction --

-- easy online registration, to view the webcast, cost US$25 -- as of June 12 listeners had so-registered from, "the US, Canada, Poland, Netherlands, Japan, Italy, France, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Serbia, Belgium, Russia and other countries around the globe..." -- and as of yesterday evening, the Center's director announced, registrations had come in from "16 countries"...

-- sooo,
100 registrations @ $25 = $2,500...
1,000 @ $25 = $25,000...
100,000 @ $25 = $2,500,000...

-- Internet economics, the kind of math which these days gets politicians elected and increasingly drives the globalizing economy... the mind boggles... pays for a lot of wolf conservation real estate...


* and, a gala,

-- simultaneous with the webcast, at the above location,

"Click here to buy Tickets or a Table $500, Table of 8/$5,000 (Cocktails, Recital and "Meet the Artists" Dinner)"

"Attend the Recital only $150 (Cocktails, Recital)"


* and an email campaign,

-- I and many others have received attractive, informative, disciplined & deliberate & passionate -- like Grimaud's playing, I don't understand how she manages all that simultaneously... -- appeals, on this, good use of email, standouts among all the wandering spam, bolstered by coordinated website and Facebook notices -- easy links, too, I'll never comprehend why so many other worthy causes and even experienced commercial vendors make it so complicated, and so tremendously difficult, to give them money...


* and nowadays, of course and here very thankfully, a video,


-- the longue durée... If everyone, everywhere, did not see the live performance yesterday, well, they also can view it -- anyone & anywhere & at any time & at their own and not just some events promoter's convenience -- how wonderful to be able to stretch, get up, move around, go to the kitchen, come back, take it along on a walk -- from now on and for as long as the Wolf Conservation Center keeps paying its ISP bill, and that appears secure for at least as long as Grimaud keeps playing her piano, I expect, she seems to be very dedicated to both of her causes here.


Wonderful -- powerful! -- music... Also a fascinating demonstration of the powers of the Internet, and of Globalization, and of a woman blazing her own path out from Aix-en-Provence to the entire globe.

Congratulations to the entire team: Hélène Grimaud and Jan Vogle, and their Hollywood Rockstar, and Deborah Heinman and Maggie Howell animal expert and Sarka Kalusova webcast producer, of the Center, and everyone else involved, very much including Atka the Wolf !




And now, a Note:

These days this is how you do it... at the World Class level, anyway, in a globalizing world... you get Richard to loan you his resort... or if you are Richard you get Hélène to perform at your resort, maybe... and then Hélène & Jan do this little webcast & video, which reaches the Entire World on their desktops / laptops / mobiles... Shostakovich in the Bangladesh rice paddies... and then we all adjourn for drinks...

A couple of traditional Internet questions:

* Indexing

Do we yet have the intellectual access tools for describing what just happened here?

This, it seems, was a "multimedia event". It even had a wolf: "Special Appearance by Atka The Wolf" -- and, sure enough, there right in the midst of the elegant gathering of Westchester's finest and some of its richest -- to celebrate & wine & dine and listen to Schumann & Debussy & Brahms & some others -- was Atka The Wolf, wonderfully-white and towing along his own handler and eyeing everyone warily the way wolves do and then poking around behind the piano... at one point he got bored and sat down and just stared...

So how does one provide Access Points, for all this? What was it, what "support" as the French librarians say: it was a video -- OK -- but also a concept, and a lecture, and something called a webcast and a gala and an email campaign -- and a live wolf, "canis lupus" or something like that, "large doglike carnivore with heavy broad skull and muzzle"... and his name was Atka The Wolf, and he gets along with children and even adults OK, altho he doesn't appear to like applause or any loud noise too much...

And actually Grimaud's Évènement was all of the above and so much more -- the description just-given omits the Hollywood Rockstar, for one thing.

How to do classification and categorization, on such a media-event -- then recall, with some precision, search & retrieval & use, all such that the pieces thus-retrieved might be reassembled to form anything at all resembling the whole?

That music was formidable, and wonderful, but as the herself-impressive animal expert Maggie Howell advised us, Atka The Wolf always is the star of any show, for any school audience, and he was for this very cool & sophisticated adult-evening audience too: on the webcast you can see pretty clearly that all human eyes were riveted on that wolf, while he was in there... there is something primal in us about music, something primal in us too about wolves... so Grimaud's strange and eccentric combination of personal interests is not so strange and eccentric, perhaps...

* Archiving

And even if we can search & retrieve & use it -- this thing, this "multimedia event", including its live wolf -- where and how will it be archived, and who will archive it?

How will we save it, to show future generations? Particularly if some significant part of it does not survive: Grimaud herself, her music, the music of Brahms, that wolf -- only 7 Mexican Red Wolves were left on the planet a short time ago, animal expert Maggie told us, and now thanks to this Center and others like it we have 400 -- sounds like the California Condor -- all this is information, it is data, but how much of it are we still totally clueless about recording and preserving? How to preserve and later show others: the precision of Vogler, the passion of Grimaud, the immense energies of both, the beauties of that Shostakovich piece... and that wolf...


-- and now a few non-traditional thoughts about all this --

* The experience

It does seem to me that a unitary approach is needed, here: something which collects and catalogs not just the component parts, of such a "multimedia event", but instead or maybe also the "experience", the feeling registered by those who first felt it.

One of the great tales in music is of old deaf Beethoven losing track of his own notes and gently being turned from the podium to face his crowd's applause...

Another is of the début of Rite of Spring, when the audience rioted and tore up the theater seats while Stravinsky ducked out the back to escape them...

Or the wonderful story of the very-young Mendelsohn reviving old Bach's St. Matthew Passion... or of the Wolffs rediscovering the Singakademie Bach Archive almost-literally buried for forty years in Kiev... All these famous tales can be recalled by playing preserved copies of recorded music, or by playing the notes on instruments. But what about the performance? What about the feelings, of the multimedia event involved in each? Those get lost, or at least the magical energy of the "event" -- you can see it shining in the eyes of the performers, of the audience, it is what motivates them all -- that grows dim. The vagueness of later poetry can come close to capturing it, as can the movies, or the music itself, but with multimedia perhaps we can do better.

* The course of music history...

In one sense we are doing better than ever. Music famously was confined to the salon, prior to 1800 -- wealthy elites heard it there, others didn't -- church was the place where the masses might hear some music, and popular tunes were played at home and in the streets, but through Mozart's time his kind of music rarely reached the hoi polloi. The Magic Flute I suppose was an exception -- Bach too feared the "beer fiddler's" reputation, got very riled when someone called him that.

With the 19th century came the concert-hall. The Gewandhaus was the first symphony -- music-halls, and beer-fiddlers, came both earlier and later -- by that century's end though the masses had the sophisticated music too, even played it themselves at home on their Estey organs and upright pianos, finally even heard recording's earliest beginnings on Edison' s new devices.

And the 20th century saw telecommunications and mass media conveying music even further than that, to even more people and people of more different kinds.

So now the 21st century gives us multimedia... I don't know how many people Grimaud's Online Global Musical Évènement reached -- or will reach, with the online video archive version which will result from this. They charged US$25 per person, but I know of no way to site license that -- nothing to mechanically / electronically prevent the piping of a webcast into a classroom or conference room or performance hall and thereby enabling access to hundreds of people at the one point. My own mobile device, an iPhone, didn't seem to work either: perhaps because I'd already logged-in via my iMac -- I know software can control simultaneous logins -- or perhaps it was the Flash apps Steve Jobs so-thoroughly-hated, which Apple Co. still does not support or even permit, this event used version 11.3.300.257 of that.

But the theory is there, now -- and now, per Grimaud, proof-of-concept too. Apple, or someone, will find workarounds for the Flash problems -- site licenses will be crafted and negotiated -- the event is outstanding marketing, anyway, for the recording companies, the global webcast greatly extends and enhances the performers reputations, and the sales of their recordings.

* The French-ness of it all... francosphères...

Grimaud is not "typically" French -- she is not "typically" anything, very unique lady, at least in any among the extraordinary variety of public interviews and projects she undertakes -- her uniqueness shines through, in this latest global webcast & Shostakovich & wolf fund-raising event. But then I've never met anyone "typically" French: those exist only on Les Guignols, and in foreigners' imaginations -- and Les Guignols are getting better and better at being eccentric.

So when foreigners, or French politicians in election years, undertake their perennial searches for quintessential French-ness, they perhaps should consider this shy, apparently-quiet -- no Lady Gaga, this -- immensely-disciplined and intensely-focussed pianist, Aix-en-Province-born but resident now en Suisse, and a devotee of American wolves in a place here where there aren't any except hers, to be representative... She speaks the language, yes, but she speaks others too, can throw out some good nasal American slang when an interview calls for that...

Official francophonie efforts to define francosphères, then, nowadays perhaps require more fluidity than they have had in the past. It once was internal to the Hexagone, a matter of defining and then breaking and subjugating the langue d'oc, or breton, or basque or some other "mere patois" to the centralized and authoritarian will and rule of the royal court at Paris -- later a task of the mission civilatrice, to hold together l'empire -- nowadays, though, what is the task?

I have met many French citizens like Grimaud, in fact -- unique individualists -- alike in their unlikeness, perhaps. French tourists roam the planet, to many remote and strange corners of it never reached by others. They pursue unique and eccentric interests there too: this one in classical European piano and American wolves, others in moto-cross and sub-Saharan geology, I have met others wonderfully-fascinated by digital information and the customs of Brazil, or Cantonese tea house experts from which they assembled vast personal knowledge of that long tradition while insisting on baguettes and french cuisine only for their personal food, I have known of others who competed with Aurel Stein for Chinese Art, still others who delved deep into Egyptology, hydraulic engineers, Southeast Asian smugglers.

Where all these talents and eccentricities meet perhaps is, by definition, the francosphère -- and that perhaps is best and most easily viewed nowadays online. Hélène Grimaud's webcast and wolves and Shostakovich will be there, now -- so are Paul Pelliot's adventures and mis-adventures in China, and Champollion's in Egypt, and those of Malraux.

In a globalizing world it is hard to keep track of things geographically, the way people did back when l'occitan was found only in le Languedoc and breton only in le Bretagne. The French roam the globe, now, just as others do. But their interests cross online: a globalised event like Grimaud's yesterday -- beautiful German and Russian and French and other music, played beautifully at a wonderful concert in Westchester County New York, from there webcast live to the world and available online perpetually as a video, is like an Internet node -- a crossroads on the web for many people and many interests, but with a few selected others an element of the new francosphère -- not just because Grimaud speaks french, or was born in Aix, or attended the Conservatoire or likes baguettes, as before, but because others on the planet, equally unique and as-eccentric in their interests, happen to share her french-ness.

She has much in common too, she finds, with several people who speak no french, prefer American junk-food, and prefer Lady Gaga's music to her own, and perhaps do not care about her frenchness, at all, but who share her passion for wolves -- and that's one globalization miracle of the modern multi-layered and multi-faceted world, for Lady Gaga as it is for Hélène Grimaud.

The francosphère is maybe larger, then, than just the people who speak french. It includes the people who love wolves and just speak english, and by extension from that also some people who love wolves and speak only japanese -- perhaps a few of the latter group even will meet Grimaud through her wolves Webcast and video now, develop a fascination for Brahms and Shostakovich, and learn french as a result... It has been said that we all are related by only "six degrees of separation": that is what the Internet is all about -- also globalization, now -- also this French pianist's fascinating online experiment.

And the catalyst in this instance was her wonderful -- powerful! -- music... And her amazing wolves...


Definitely "worth a journey" -- but don't leave the armchair, wherever you are just point & click on,


-- or send mail to,


-- and nag them, ask them when their video of this great webcast event will be available online!


Jack Kessler, kessler@well.com