Published in January 1997 issue of Prospect Magazine
If you join the European Union’s forum on the information society you will never again have to turn on your machine and confront the depressing fact that no one has sent you any messages. Gone are the days when you had to send yourself e-mails to fool colleagues at neighbouring PCs into believing that you are in demand. In a single month I received 81 e-mails courtesy of Ispo. Ispo is an acronym for the Information Society Project Office, established as “part of the commission’s action plan on Europe’s way to the information society (cf. IP/94/683 of 16th July 1994). [It] is a concrete measure conceived to support, promote and orient private and public actions in the field of the information society.” It’s the way they translate ’em that really gets you isn’t it? But if you want to see what our Eurofuture has in store go to www.ispo.cec.be.
Forums are not open to the general public, only to “subscribers.” This is rather confusing because there is hardly ever any monetary charge. But forums differ from the better known usenet groups where anybody can drop in and pick up a “thread” (a line of discussion on a particular topic), post a contribution, or review the whole history of the discussions which have taken place within the group. Using Yahoo I discovered that there were 879 different categories of usenet groups, containing well over 15,000 individual groups, and some 80m articles which you can search by typing in a key word. I found 82 references to geraniums, 71 references to brass-rubbing and 39,600 to politics: mind you that included a number of articles about the politics of the federation, as in Star Trek, so I am not sure they really count. If you cannot find a usenet group that already caters for your interests I suggest you seek medical help, but you can always inaugurate a group of your own. Thus if anyone wants to speculate about what happens to geraniums that have been kept in brass pots on board space ships travelling at warp speed, drop me a line.