Wednesdays Stranger Week Five


Posted on June 13, 2018 by Yann Tromeur

In this new section, I am not going to talk about myself or any of my work / self-improvement / techno obsession (just a little).

Here is week five of “WEDNESDAY’S STRANGER”.

Every Wednesday on the iooikos blog, I will talk about a personality. Someone you might know, but most of the time no. Because I like surprises, I will try to surprise you every week and treat you with discovering a personality, a character I found interesting, that struck me during the week, in the past year, someone I might know personally as well… or not !

So, without further ado…

In Nineteen Ninety Six, I was Twenty-Two Years Old.

In Nineteen Ninety Six, through this Wednesday Stranger’s little book, I met my career path. I wish I could thank the writer for that.

“Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children… A graphic representation of data abstracted from banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity… clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding…”– William Gibson, Neuromancer.

Jean-Claude Guédon introduced his book from William Gibson’s groundbreaking and visionary Novel “Neuromancer”. At the time, I was a student about to graduate from UTT, I took this sociology class and I had a report to write about the “World Wide Web” and its future implication for our civilization. Among various sources, mainly books, magazine, a few documents off the “World Wide Web” was “La planète Cyber, Internet et Cyberespace”. I know, the title is a bit “clunky”.

image from the book

Whereas the book largely deals with computing History, half the chapters deal with political consequences, social impacts, author rights management and even Virtual Reality!

Differencing Communication from Information, the book demonstrates that from its oral beginning to the digital age, there is always a risk those can be hacked in favor of a dictatorship centralizing all the information of the World… And Google was not even invented yet… When “sharing occurs… it is communication” and when “one individual…addresses a group… Information”.

More, “The introduction of new technologies will…accentuate social differences”. Countries will not be served the same way. Look at that twenty-one years later: spot on ! Africa is way behind the rest of the World regarding Internet.

The freedom of the Internet matters more than ever. Jean-Claude Guédon is an advocate of the Free Internet, describing it: “Railroad.. horizon is named Continent… Plane horizon is the Planet… And the Internet Horizon is space as its action field is the planet itself”. What a beautiful sight! “Directions we take are owned by… this CITIZEN that cannot be passive”. He managed to foresee the difficulties ahead.

At a time where social media was barely a concept and freedom of the Internet was not even a topic, I was hooked by this idea of a group of individual from around the world being able to communicate in real time, of being citizen of the World.

Also Jean-Claude Guédon cited Sheryl Turkle, a sociologist, from an interview off Technology Review Magazine, about the danger of a “virtual existence”. People could define themselves with as the “sum of the personalities they create… on their screens”.

Though at the time, no tablet, no 4G, no multiple screens apart from maybe one computer and a television… Now, with the expansion of the Internet to the palm of our hand, is not that virtual existence the reality?

Mr Guédon is now an honorary teacher at the university of Montreal and has now an award to his name at the “Centre de recherche interuniversitaire sur les humanités numériques… for the best article on the issues of scholarly publications and/or open access”.

Jean-Claude Guédon is one of those undercover mentors I mentioned in previous. Twenty years later, I realized that this book shaped my professional principles and ethic regarding the Internet. It also made me realized  how much we need to be careful about how we use and develop technology and that our creation belong to us and cannot be left out of control, especially for the coming generations.

“Cyberspace” has evolved to the Internet of Things (everything is the Internet), embracing its full-distributed form, it might look like a global mall from a certain perspective. But still… I hope the cycle never ends. I hope freedom of Information will live on forever.

Around the corner, somewhere here on earth, as it happened to me twenty years ago, a young human is reading a book, watching a movie, listening to music on his smartphone and he has a revelation. This revelation turns into something new: ideas, dreams and concepts. Those can be shared so easily now, spreading around the world like water flows.

She or he makes a plan and takes action to shape those ideas, works every day to achieve his goal. Gathers friends, makes a team, a band…

That is how the dreams come to Reality.