French futurologist and scientist Joël de Rosnay gave a conference last week at UOM on ‘Nouvelles Technologies, Innovations et Résistances au Changement’. He drew a well organised map and catalogue of the crucial areas of innovation and listed the many stumbling blocks that need to be overcome in order to make the most of these new technologies with special reference to Mauritius (with which he has some family ties BTW).
He identified the main areas as being those of infotechnologies (basically Internet 2.0, what he calls ‘technologies de la relation’), biotechnologies (research in genetics), nanotechnologies and ecotechnologies (solar energies). I was particularly interested in listening to his talk about new information technologies as I have read one of his books ‘La Révolte du pronetariat’ which I bought last year and also use in my class for ‘New Forms of Media’. Joël de Rosnay’s enthusiasm about the Internet revolution, what he calls the ‘media of the masses’ (in opposition to ‘mass media’) is unabated and he even came up with a funny equation when it comes to the new business model i.c.w. the technologies of relation which runs as follows:
FLUX + BUZZ = BIZZ
Meaning (from what I have understood) that businesses need to attract people (by providing information-rich services for free) to create flux and those people will themselves attract other people through recommendations thus creating buzz and the business will be there.
His intense presentation cited, inter alia, the Long Tail, the idea of collective intelligence, new management styles (systemic as opposed to hierarchical). More interestingly, he also criticised the way the Cyber island initiative has turned out (in his words more a technopark where big companies pay big money to rent a locale), his initial vision being more that of a technological pole with incubators, public exhibition and meeting places to learn about technological developments. Yet, he still seems optimistic as he mapped out some ideas about the use of technology for tourism purposes (e.g. info on mobiles for guided tours, WiMax everywhere).
His presentation was so packed that it is not possible to summarise all the ideas he evoked, which were all enthusiastically received by a small audience composed of well-known entrepreneurs, academics and a few students. One can only wonder how much of his advice will have been understood and implemented… But, it’s refreshing to hear people who are on the same wavelength from time to time. Lifts your spirits up temporarily until you hear about the Facebook faux-pas of the ICTA, that is!