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global_futures 12/98

The Research Group on the Global Future's e-mail newsletter

04.12.1998 · Research Group on the Global Future

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Research Group on the Global Future
Center for Applied Policy Research (CAP)
Munich, Germany

(1) Globalization and Social Governance in Europe and the US
(2) Information Rules
(3) Biotech Portal Preview
(4) Loyalty in the New Economy
(5) Academy for the Third Millenium
(6) Bruce Sterling
(7) Noted in Passing



Policy makers in the United States in Europe face similar challenges from globalization. The same forces producing an increasingly transnational economy and the possibilities of lasting international cooperation are also challenging the sovereignty and functioning of even developed democracies. A roundtable sponsored by the Center for Applied Policy Research and the Forward Studies Unit of the European Commission brought together experts from both sides of the Atlantic to discuss the implications of globalization for social governance in Europe and the United States.

The roundtable was part of a continuing project improving responsiveness to international change. Its website presents a number of papers from the conference, along with long-term efforts to improve the policy process in Europe and the US.




December's highlight from our Portal to the Digital Future:

Information Rules: A Strategic Guide to the Networked Economy by Carl Shapiro and Hal R. Varian.

This new book by professors from the University of California at Berkeley distills the economic principles of information and networks into practical business strategies.

Read the book review in eMarketer.

We're passing the book around here in the Research Group on the Global Future - and finding examples of its principles almost daily in the press and on the net.



We've been working on the biotechnology section of our portal, as the next step in our evaluation of sites relating to the global future. Here are two sites that are well worth your limited time.


This interactive site is run by Indiana University as an educational resource that aims to enrich the public's knowledge of biology and chemistry. It includes a biotechnology dictionary. You'll also find annotated links to biomedical web sites for scientists, educators
and students alike.


This site gets you in touch with a large selection of biotechnology companies and includes details of their latest research projects. Most of the companies mentioned welcome online inquiries. It's fun to use because of the way it's set up for finding firms easily, and it helps you keep abreast of developments in the field.



American Users Slow to Switch ISP

Most US Internet users would pay a higher monthly subscription fee rather than change internet service provider (ISP), according to a study by the Strategis Group. The study found that 63 percent of users have had the same ISP since they first went online. Further, the vast majority of home users, 88 percent, say they have no plans to change their ISP. That's good news for established providers, and a clear demonstration of the continuing power of loyalty (not to say habit) in the new economy.

Strategis calculated that in the US the average monthly ISP subscription fee is $18.83. It estimates that competing ISPs would need to undercut the user's current provider by as much as 30 percent.

The study reports that on average, users would be prepared to up their present fee by $5.36 per month, or more than 28 percent. However, this varied considerably by location, with users in the Midwest prepared to pay up to 40 percent more than those in the West.

The 1998 mid-year 'Internet User Trends' report is based on a survey of 1,700 US households, including 500 Internet user households.




Envisioning Knowledge - The Knowledge Society and the New Media

International Colloquium, February 3-4, 1999

Computers and the world wide web have permanently altered the ways in which we acquire and communicate knowledge. The possibilities for visualizing data play a decisive role this process, making complex processes and data increasingly understandable and useful. What concrete consequences does the paradigm change from text to picture oriented communication imply for science, business and education? How should we, as a society, react to the quantum leap in the transmission of knowledge? The sixth international congress of the Academy for the Third Millenium will engage these questions, with the participation of experts from around the world.




"What is culturally required at the dawn of the new millennium is a genuine avant-garde, in the sense of a cultural elite with an advanced sensibility not yet shared by most people, who are creating a new awareness requiring a new mode of life. The task of this avant-garde is to design a stable and sustainable physical economy in which the wealthy and powerful will prefer to live.(...) We need a form of Green high fashion so appallingly seductive and glamorous that it can literally save people's lives."

That's just part of Bruce Sterling's conclusion, but getting there in his talk on Viridian concepts - his manifesto for designing a design movement - is a tremendously fun exercise in historical analogy, prognostication, and cultural provocation. If those things don't sound like fun, you haven't seen what Sterling can do with them. (Comparing the 1990s to the 1890s, he writes, ?And of course the Belle Epoque launched the Titanic. We also have a Titanic, our special-effects, virtualized Titanic. The first was an Imperial British flagship of the line, and the second is a flagship property of the imperial American entertainment industry. ... We have every reason in the world to respond with recognition and affection to this Titanic movie. It's all about them while also being entirely about us.")

On the serious side, he argues that we are sliding our way into CO2-induced catastrophe, and letting this happen would be a serious aesthetic failure, among other things. Sterling again: ?So why is this an aesthetic issue? Well, because it's a severe breach of taste to bake and sweat half to death in your own trash, that's why. To boil and roast the entire physical world, just so you can pursue your cheap addiction to carbon dioxide. ... What a cramp of our style. It's all very foul and aesthetically regrettable."

He argues that the only way to change the attitudes of short-sighted political and economic actors is to win the supremacy in the cultural field by social engineering. As Sterling pictures it, that's task of the Viridian movement, the green avant garde, the beautiful hope of humanity.

Bruce Sterling: "Viridian Design", a speech at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, October 14, 1998: http://www.well.com/conf/mirrorshades/viridiandesign.htm

David Hudson reports in Rewired about the Viridian movement and conducts an interview with Sterling: http://www.rewired.com/98/1109.html

Bruce Sterling: "The Manifesto of January 3, 2000" http://www.well.com/conf/mirrorshades/viridian.html

Further Viridian writings (Viridian Notes) available at:

In a related article in CTHEORY the French philosopher Jean Baudrillard criticizes the countdown to the Year 2000:
In the Shadow of the Millennium, or the Suspense of the Year 2000

Sterling is also working on 'dead media,' defunct communication technologies like signal mirrors, broadcasting by telephone, carrier pigeon messages, the Apple Newton, and so on. Why did one form fail where another succeeded? What does it mean, how does it feel, to live in a world permeated by one medium and not another?

Dead Media Project



500.000 IT jobs go to waste in the EU

A new report by the European Commission highlights the fact that an acute shortage of skills and an unwillingness to invest in start-up firms are shackling the EU's information technology industry and letting half a million potential jobs go to waste.

(Source: European Voice 19-25 November)

Download the report "Job opportunities in the Information Society: Exploiting the Potential of the Information revolution"

The libertarian paradox

Gerry McGovern writes in 'New Thinking' about the movement to give away software and its codes free on the Internet.

Read also his predictions for the Internet economy in 1999.

(Source: New Thinking)

Netd@ys in Europe

The 1998 edition of the European Commission-sponsored Netd@ys Europe has drawn participation from 35,000 schools
compared to 15,000 the previous year, including schools from Canada, Israel, Japan and the USA. The Netd@ys primarily aim at raising awareness of the Internet's potential for education and life-long learning. Over 1,000 projects were launched and 4,000 events organised on this occasion in collaboration with museums, training centres, public libraries, youth organisations, operas and hospitals. The Netd@ys 98 have also contributed to accelerate regional Internet equipping plans in close to 10,000 European schools.


(Source: IS Trends)

What is Cyber Society?

5th-7th July 1999 What is Cyber Society? What are its social,
political, economic and cultural dimensions? What are its theoretical and policy implications for the 21st century?

An International Conference at the School of Social, Political and Economic Sciences, University of Northumbria at Newcastle, UK.

Further details:

(Source: Cybersoc)



global_futures also offers an interactive forum. Recommendations, letters, and tips are welcomed by the editors, particularly on the topics of the digital future, biotechnology, sustainability and the new economy. Send all feedback to fgz@lrz.uni-muenchen.de.


Douglas Merrill, Patrick Meyer, Juergen Turek, Markus Vorbeck

Research Group on the Global Future
Center for Applied Policy Research
Gschwister Scholl Institute
Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich