@jeffjarvis bigotry against French & dissonance in general

by Laurent François


I’m a bit sad today.

I read the reaction of Jeff Jarvis which affected a lot of French observers, like me. And specifically this charge against French journalists and…to a certain extent, French in general:

“Last night, I got email from a Le Monde journalist who said, “I’m on the way to write an article about Google facing a rising tide of discontent concerning privacy and monopoly.” She went on to wonder whether these critics would move to Bing and, at the same time, whether Google would become the next Microsoft with a negative image and government pressure (aren’t those two questions inherently contradictory?).
I wanted to know if it was possible for you to respond to my questions?

I threw out my glass of Bordeaux (it had turned) and poured a nice American cabernet and then responded:

There’s one problem: I do not buy the premise of your story. I’ve seen this story again and again, especially from France. I’m not sure what it is the French have against Google, but it’s some form of national insanity, I think. Most French publishers rejected my book, What Would Google Do?, because they said they wanted a diatribe against Google – that, it appears, is the French reflex. Only after I blogged that did my brave publisher come forward and publish it as La méthode Google.

Do some people complain about Google? Yes, it is often the same people who complain about the internet and about change and technology and simply use Google as their target simply because it is so big and so innovative.”

Few points:

  • Jeff does probably not read foreign newspapers & social media, but the French context is pretty tensed against Google because of the BNF issue. Funny enough, French citizens are not talking about a fight between BNF vs Google (the little Gaulois vs the American monster) but more about the future of some historic ressources. A library is made for the common good. Google for business. It can appear normal to open a debate. And Jeff, you’re the one who talks about our supposed “reflex”. Let’s have a Brouilly and discuss why a Bordeaux cannot be compared to a Cabernet (just a provocative sentence, but after all, it’s part of your business)
  • about the “same people who complain about the internet etc.“. One more time, it’s pretty sad you don’t read French-or don’t ask French for a little explanation. People who brought Google into BNF are not the top technological / internet gurus. Moreover, the people who brought the media attention on this specific topic are clever guys, very open to the Internet and even more aware of knowledge-sharing issues. I’m a bit surprised you wrote the opposite
  • finally, about the publishers’ stuff: you’re right, the French context is complicated, and there’s often a kind of Omerta for some little kingdoms. It’s a pity you discredit the whole French in general whereas a lof of us are on your side

Jeff, I hope you’ll go back to Bordeaux soon. And assume that internet is made to break stereotypes, moreover on such complicated topics.

3 Comments to “@jeffjarvis bigotry against French & dissonance in general”

  1. French people dont complain about the internet… the Gov does

    but it doesnt really represent Frenchies that well

    French people love internet. especially young people.

    And french youth use google like H24.

  2. Je suis assez d'accord avec Gonzague, les craintes contre google n'émanent pas vraiment des internautes.

    Je n'irai pas forcément aussi loin qu'Embruns mais je trouve son commentaire quand même assez juste
    http://embruns.net/logbook/2009/09/07.html#story-telling .

    Après, toute généralisation commençant par les français est toujours fausse, le débat du fond est donc difficile.
    PS: désolé pour le français, manque de temps, fatigue, tout ça

  3. Same here. Jeff is pretty vocal about the french, but his main problem are the french anti-internet policies, Le Monde anti-internet editorial line, and the anti-google attitude within big publishing companies and the press.

    I totaly agree on these points.

    Disclaimer : I'm french.

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