Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
13th Symposium of the CREIS – 2004, Paris, 30 June to 1-2 July 2004
An information society or a controlled societyDevelopments on the debate on computerization
The invitation to participate informs us that:
The quarterly review Terminal and the CREIS association have been involved for more than twenty five years in the debate on the social implications of computerization. Indeed, from computerization and society to an information society, the last twenty five years or so have been marked by a general and accelerated spread of the different computer tools and their interconnections. This debate needs to be extended and in part renewed.
The social representation of information and communication technologies has changed. It no longer seems to be such a separate part of society. It has stopped being the Orwellian instrument of oppression so strongly criticized in the 1980's. IBM imperialism has been forgotten, that of Microsoft does not scare many and intrusive files have become part of everyday life through the marketing talent of marketing and business people. Informatic has been Odomesticated, so they say. The multimedia interfaces of the PC have lost the harshness of the terminals of yesteryear and surfing on the Internet has become child's play, while at the same time, hardware and software continue to force new organisational norms on the worker and on the citizen. Thus, in the age of electronic commerce and the Vitale health card, there is an ever-general consent to reveal bits and pieces about oneself in exchange for a service. Since 11 September, public security issues legitimise more and more coercive files of the population, which obviously goes against any idea of privacy, but which is considered socially valuable.
What is more, as in the history of the different network technologies (railways, electricity, water, telephone, S) the Information and Communication Technologies have been called upon to help a society where social and technical progress have never been more out of touch with each other. With the spread of the Internet to the general public since 1993, the equality myth is now being served up to us again. Thus, bringing a solution to the Odigital divide, which threatens the third and fourth world together, would lead to settling the problems that face society such as, among others, social inequality, alienating work forms, indiscriminate access to culture and narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor, the North/South imbalance or yet again the flaws of democracy. However, over and above the chatter, new forms of social contestation of an international nature are emerging such as the anti-globalisation movement or even more specifically the free software movement.
So, it is necessary for all those who are there to make sure that public and private liberties are respected as much as for those who analyse more widely the social insertion process of the ICT to compare their questioning to the means of production, diffusion and appropriation of informatics. Such is the aim of the 13th symposium of the CREIS, in partnership with Terminal review: examine how the critical issues addressing the computerization of society these last twenty five years have altered or still have to alter. When and how did we go from computer science and society to an information society, what does this drift mean from a political, economic or social point of view and why, from the G8 to the televised news, is so much to be said about the information society?
An analysis rooted in recent history would seem to shed light on the different areas in question. The expected contributions, through the issues of computerization, will tackle:
the new work dimension (flexibility, control, S);
the internationalisation and financing of the economy;
the development of public services (education, health, culture, S);
public and private liberties and social control;
the citizen's new use of democracy;
public policy of expending the information society;
The deadlines for contributions has passed, but contact: email@example.com to check the current position. Participation at the symposium is, however, encouraged and details are included in the Special Announcements section of this issue.