Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pierre Mounier-Kuhn, "L'informatique en France", PUPS, 2010

Translated from a French version

This is the first volume of a monumental work that Pierre Mounier-Kuhn dedicates to the history of computing in France. It addresses research and University. A second volume will deal with the behavior of manufacturers, a third with the role of the state.

It will probably be necessary for Mounier-Kuhn to devote a fourth volume to the computerization of institutions, to what happened on the side of usages, their requirements and their relationships with scientists, suppliers and the state.

Like any historical research, this one was constrained by the availability of archives and hence it considers what happened before 1975. But it is at this time that the computerization of institutions and society begun: the notion of information system emerged in the early 70s, when the requirements of the semantics of data passed before those of the calculation which they condition under the principle garbage in, garbage out.

Mounier-Kuhn writes on the computerization of France, but he shows that our country, delayed by the circumstances of the German occupation, has not been a pioneer in this field. Computer technology had its source in the U.S. (and Britain), and the ideas that we French have had on compilers, operating systems, databases, networks etc. were only second hand, notwithstanding some individual exceptions.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The scale of Power

Translation from "L'├ęchelle du pouvoir"

"Power", supreme goal, object of fantasy! To have power is to dominate the others, to dominate the world, to make a sense of his own life instead of undergoing a prescribed sense...

In its pure state, power is the exercise of this authority that legitimacy gives to the man in power and which bows before him the head of subordinates: they will accept his decisions and obey his orders.

Power encompasses however different levels corresponding to various functions: distinguishing the powers of appointment, management and orientation will help to diagnose the behavior of a person in power.

Appointment Power

One first form of power lies in the delegation of plots of legitimacy. The one who can appoint the officers, distribute roles and places, is like a lord to whom vassals swear loyalty.