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This book, based on historical studies, shows that the various new information and communication technologies (NICT) indirectly influence social change. It is not that installation of communication equipment and infrastructures will totally change society; from a general point of view, society will have to face adjustments rather than dramatic changes. However, the ease of these adjustments, though depending on the degree of acceptability of the NICT, will be largely conditioned by the value of the tools in use; this is also one of the lessons that is learnt from case studies. The impact of the new communications instruments largely depends on consideration of pre-existing social needs; the latter can be federated and "translated" by what one could call "mediators". These mediators ideally control both the technical and social environment, while the initiators for the instruments of communication are essentially engineers. Mediators for example have to take responsibility for the fact that the projects of the initiators are nearly always diverted to other uses; to quote one such example, the French Minitel was originally a directory in electronic form. It is necessarily concluded that communication systems have to be as flexible as possible to allow their development for previously unforeseen uses.

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Bibliographic Reference: BOOK: EUR 11687 FR (1988) 132 PP. ISBN 2-11-002007-5 AVAILABLE FROM LA DOCUMENTATION FRANCAISE, 29-31 QUAI VOLTAIRE, 75340 PARIS CEDEX 07 (FR)
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