True to our roots

Luís Ángel Fernández Hermana - @luisangelfh
18 September, 2018
Editorial: 238
Fecha de publicación original: 24 octubre, 2000

Those that want to kiss her, will look for her face’s I One Day Conference, which will be taking a look at Next Generation Information Technology, is being held in Barcelona this Friday 27 October. It is a unique meeting both as far as its subject matter and the circumstances under which it is being held are concerned. At a time when conferences, seminars and congresses about the Internet and e-commerce, and all its possible money-making variants, occupy centre stage again and again, we are trying to take a small step forward and take a look at what the future has in store. This is no frivolous exercise. Recent history of the Internet has taught us that when and how organisations incorporate new developments on the Net and debate knowledge management, is just as important, or more so, as debates on the business opportunities it has to offer. Preparation, sensitivity to change and cultural adaptation for the necessary reorganisation they will have to undergo to take full advantage of these opportunities, are crucial factors which will determine the place of these organisations on the market and their capacity for discovering new opportunities and facing the challenges of the future.

The most obvious example of this is the history of the World Wide Web itself and its browsers, in particular Mosaic which later became Netscape via some of the people that developed the former. Invented at the European Laboratory for Particle Physics by Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau (*) at the beginning of this decade, from 1994 onwards the development and supervision of the WEB passed into the hands of the US due to the lack of interest shown in it by European business and institutions. In my opinion, this explains to a large extent why Europe has taken so long to incorporate information technology into its production system, as well as the wide range of other activities that the Information Society should entail. When WWW servers at CERN moved to the W3C Consortium in MIT in the US in 1995, it didn’t even make news here in Europe. At that time very few companies in the European Union even knew what the WWW or browsers were. Now it would be mere fictional history to imagine what it would have meant for many of them –and for society in general– to have had the opportunity to take a glance into the future at what was just starting to explode irrepressibly five years ago. Today we have some idea as to how much ignoring these advances has cost us and exactly how hard it is going to be to make up lost time.

So, this is the context in which’s I One Day Conference is set. We believe, and this has become common knowledge now, that we are entering a phase where continuous training will become a kind of second nature to prepare us for dealing with the fluid, changing and dynamic world that information and knowledge networks represent. And, an essential step in this preparation involves getting to know new information technology coming out of laboratories or taking their first steps as prototypes. Technology that is bound to have a powerful impact on the way business and organisations generate, use and take advantage of information and knowledge. This is the reason, the need to access this technology on time and put it into practice soon, why decided to organise this Conference and will continue to do so in the years to come.

So, what are these technologies all about? Well, basically they are systems capable of analysing information, processing it conceptually and displaying it by means of objects that can be intuitively navigated no matter how much information is processed –from a document to everything digitally stored during the whole life of a company or organisation–, whether this is saved in a structured form — data bases, hierarchical archives, etc.–, or whether they are e-mails, isolated documents or files (stored in some unknown place), presentations or spread sheets. All these technological advances are being developed in the USA, where the speakers for’s I One Day Conference come from, along with some European experts. Those attending the Conference will be given a book –more than 200 pages of text and graphics–which will be sold on the Net at a later date.

We are also going to present en.medi@ to the public. It is an online knowledge management technology developed by, which we have already tried and tested over the last two years. en.medi@ is based on an innovative design of the flow of communication in a contextualised virtual space with a wide range of objectives. Participants are producers and consumers of information and knowledge, aided by a team of knowledge managers. The standard of information and knowledge produced, subject to previously established objectives, is consequently very high, and gives rise in turn to new products which allow the distributed intelligence and the base knowledge to grow.

Some days ago, in his bulletin Extra-Net 541 titled “Espacios construidos a partir de subespacios de persona” (“Spaces constructed on the basis of people sub-spaces”), our friend Alfons Cornella quite rightly said that, ” Business must learn to take advantage of the accumulated potential their faithful customers represent because it is they, and more specifically what they are capable of doing with their brains and machines, that are going to give new life to their spaces on the Internet. This does not mean handing over a part of their web to their clients where they can enjoy chatting to each other (just how many forums have been set up with nobody ever bothering to enter them?), but instead understanding that the dynamics of the Net turns people into broadcasters, liberating them from being mere receptors, the role which the traditional economy has usually relegated them to. If part of the intangible capital of a company is contained in its satisfied clientele, they will have to learn to use that satisfaction as the basis for attracting new clients. In other words, “client capital” must be incorporated into the company in ways that, once again, we can’t even begin to imagine today”.
Well, we at have imagined a way of doing this (and very close to your home, Alfons) and it works. en.medi@ is the fruit of’s accumulated experience on the Internet. From the time of its foundation in 1996, the electronic magazine has reflected on the impact of the Internet and analysed its consequences in fields as distinct as communication, education, business administration, organisations, the economy, science, culture or politics. However, this work has always been done with other internauts. In other words, our newsroom staff –if one could call it that– consisted of those who created their own original material and contributed their first-hand experiences of life on the Net. Thanks to these invaluable and incomparable contributions, we have acquired a particular perspective on how the Net works and the role that, due to their particular behaviour, individuals, collectives, companies, organisations and administrations play there. In doing this, very few books have guided us (well, actually, there are some, as is only natural) instead a lot, loads, of reflection on what is happening and how on the Net, has come from our own experience. This is, on the other hand, only to be expected when talking about something as revolutionary and new as an online virtual environment.

This experience has borne fruit and the magazine has become a knowledge producing media about what is happening in the virtual world. Actually, this experience did not just begin in 1996. It relates back to the projects and work many of us were involved in as far back as 1991, in UseNet, GreenNet, APC, Compuserve or TCN forums or other communication projects whose objectives were to create stable virtual spaces in which to share knowledge among all participants. I had the opportunity, was lucky enough, amongst other things, to follow the development of the Web itself guided by its inventors. As a curiosity, I enclose at the end of this article one of the messages I exchanged with Robert Cailliau in 1993 (*), who in his signature warns that CERN’s e-mail was going to close down that Christmas (!). Developments in en.medi@, on the other hand, have led us to other fascinating places, such as participation in the Ph.D. on “Funciones mentales superiores en espacios virtuales y gestión de espacios virtuales de información y conocimiento” (“Superior mental functions in virtual space and the management of information and knowledge virtual spaces”), organised by the Instituto Universitario de Ciencias de la Educación of Salamanca University.

The first time en.medi@ was put to work was in February 1999 in the magazine itself: we created a space on “Los Nuevos Medios en la Sociedad de la Información” (“New Media in the Information Society”). In May 2000, en.jornad@ got underway, an en.medi@ for organising the online phase of’s I One Day Conference dedicated to knowledge management. In October 2000 we opened Liderarte to debate decision-making processes in organisations and the management of personal change in the Information Society. At the beginning of November, Palaver starts operating. It is the en.medi@ that will form part of’s Masters in Digital Communication which will be imparted entirely on the Internet. Palaver will allow students active participation in knowledge production and how to manage it, as well as designing these types of systems for specific projects. It will also continue to serve as a space for refresher courses for ex-students of the Masters.
This accumulation of experience and projects is what has inspired us to organise’s I One Day Conference. It is not often that a company –let alone one of this size– takes on the task of putting other companies and organisations, their directors and decision-makers, in contact with leaders in the field of research into next generation information technology. But, we believe that meetings of this kind — unique in Europe and in Spain– afford the opportunity to evaluate the evolution of information systems which will form the basis of the new economy more closely on the one hand, and, on the other, bridge the cultural and conceptual gaps that prevent taking full use of the opportunities the Information Society has to offer.

One of the lessons we have learned from this experience is the importance of information and knowledge about Net evolution itself. And in order to obtain this we have to go beyond contingent debates which so often confuse rather than clarify things, so that we can decide where each person’s place is in this changing world that we are all contributing to creating. We believe, rightly or wrongly, that bringing leaders in the field of research together with those who are going to put the fruits of their work into practice is a “strategic priority”. It seems to us –and we are sure we are right here– that the informational organisation of companies and organisations is the key to adapting to the Information Society. And systems such as those we will be presenting at’s I One Day Conference, and which we will continue to debate on the Net, are fundamental to this process.

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Date: Mon, 20 Dec 1993 08:02:45 +0100
From: (Robert Cailliau)
Subject: contacting me


>I’ve been trying to contact Cailliau through Compuserve without any success…
> … …

Did you not get my first reply?
I get your messages when you send them to me.
As to WWW: I don’t know whether Greennet allows you to make a telnet session. If it does, just try either telnet which gives you one entry to the web, or telnet which gives you the entry to the Epac conference, but from which you can also get to the rest. There are no logins and no passwords.

NOTE: CERN e-mail is closed down from
Wed. 22 Dec 12:00 until Wed. Jan 5 at 08:30
Robert Cailliau
World-Wide Web Project
| phone: +41 22 767 5005
| fax: +41 22 767 8730
European Laboratory for Particle Physics | e-mail:
CH – 1211 Geneve 23
| diary:

Translation: Bridget King