Interview with Helene Abrand

“A whole movement of creators and thinkers have emerged since the inception of electronic content”

How would you define e-content in France?

E-content is very important since it brings together information and creativity in all possible domains of knowledge and is easily accessible

“E-culture in France having been at the forefront of innovation and development”

What’s the status of e-content in France?

A whole movement of creators and thinkers have emerged since the inception of electronic content, even creating what was called a “French touch” where designers, sound producers, developers, and creators in general put France on the global map with institutes like Les Gobelins, Ensad, Lille. They produce e-content that is in great demand all over the world.

Which area of e-content (e-health, e-biz, e-culture, e-government, e-entertainment, e-learning, e-science, and e-inclusion) is best developed in France?

Each of these areas is very well developed, e-culture in France having been at the forefront of innovation and development.

Which sector (business, private sector, government or civil society) in France is advanced in developing e-content?

In France, we have always tried to maximise partnerships not only among cultural institutions but also among the industry and research sectors, through the creation of common services and a versatile database.

Our e-content derives from our very rich cultural ethos, a strong research-oriented university education and our entrenched traditions. Our industries further enrich these trends by bringing in a fresh lease of innovation in e-content.

How would you describe the gradual progress of development of e-content in France?

France has been a very big base for e-content creators and developers who are in demand all over the world. They have helped us chart a very enviable progress of e-content.

What major initiatives have influenced the development of e-content in France?

Public authorities, the government and the private sector have come together to launch very big initiatives. Some of these are:

• The Gallica programme of the French National Library already printed and digitalised 75.000 documents and produced an online digital library. It is being enriched with 27 titles from the daily press (more than 3 million pages).

• The French Ministry of Culture has digitalised 6 million views of microfilms, 500 000 photographies, 400,000 books pages and documentary files, 40,000 maps and plans, and more than 4.000 hours of sound recordings through more than 300 projects, since 1996. It has also been supported in this venture by an editorial multimedia and paper production.

• The Institute National of Audiovisuals (INA) launched a plan for digital safeguarding in 1999 in collaboration with French radio and TV archives. More than 500,000 hours have been digitalized.

The cultural ministry also has been implementing projects structuring documentation through XML solutions by disseminating solutions involving open source softwares, OAI protocols and multilingualism. It launched and supported the development of tools to help transcription of handwritten documents.

The President of French Republic also announced in 2005 the launch of a European digital library project, to disseminate knowledge and enhance cultural diversity.

You can find more on the policies concerning cultural content in the links below :

What are the major bottlenecks in the path of e-content development in France?

The biggest challenge is to combine creative talent with business potential and make it an enduring proposition.

In most countries, especially developing, e-content development is significantly dependent on ICT infrastructure and ICT facilities. But, in some, ICT has become pervasive and e-content development is primarily subjected to the initiatives of an individual/organization/government, etc. What is the situation in France?

In September 2004, the French Minister of Culture launched “Digital priorities”- a programme to document the digitisation initiatives promoted by the ministry and the public institutions. The emphasis was on audiences and on promoting new cultural practices, thanks to the fast development of DSL networks in France (Plan RE/SO 2007). Ten priorities were identified and were divided into three main sections: digital creation, access to culture and heritage digitisation. Section one covered support to digital creation with programmes like DICREAM for multi media and supported new forms like video games with the FAEM.

The second section focussed on the diffusion of culture to enable a growing audience to access it especially through the portal which aimed at becoming the main cultural search tool in France. Intellectual property rights and illegal downloading issues were dealt within the protection of the copyright plan on the Internet. New partnerships and libraries would enrich the educational sector, thanks to the State mission begun in 2004.

The network for Research and Innovation in Audiovisual and Multimedia (RIAM) would bring together ministries of Industry, Research and Culture in 2005. The third section of this policy focussed on digitisation of heritage documents in a rare and fragile condition. Digitisation would facilitate access, at the same time protecting it from wear and tear.

“The development of cross media content, platforms and services is the order of the day”

The programme has also built a strategy to sustain public institutions. For instance, the budgets of the National Library of France (BNF – and of the National Institute of Audiovisual (INA – will be increased. The rapid degradation of audiovisual items makes their digitisation a priority. Twice as many items will be digitised in 2005 and a video on demand system is to be launche

Two other prioritary initiatives are the digitisation of the video collections of the National Fund of Contemporary Art (FNAC – and of oral testimonies on deportation gathered by the Foundation for the Memory of Deportation.
How would you describe the ICT scenario in France in terms of infrastructure, penetration, and policies?

Références: (in “Observatoire de l’administration électronique”)
What’s the future of e-content in France?

Which is the most preferred medium for e-content production in France?

All are important, provided they follow the latest innovations and trends. The development of cross media content, platforms and services is also the order of the day.

How do you recognise the best e-content practices in France?

For the French WSA selection, my partner was Fing Denis Pansu, the new generation internet association. They helped us organise a production to choose a high-end selection of the content produced in France. We selected eight well known experts in each category: François Boquet, Florence Castera, Eric Jonquière, Jean Pascal Marron, Norbert Paquel, Joël de Rosnay , Jean-Christophe Théobalt and Stéphane Vincent. Each of them proposed a selection of three to five productions that they found outstanding. We voted along with Fing to pick the most interesting production. Efforts at community building through blogging and podcasting and allowing smaller entities to reach target on the web, and innovative cultural approaches involving high-level interactive tools and 3D components were outstanding. Selection was interesting and fun, and helped us to broaden our views and affirm our faith once again in French e-production diversity.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>