mardi 9 décembre 2003, par LECLERC Jean-Marie
Every individual has the right to express oneself through an activity, in which one’s potential can be developed and recognised. In counter part, everyone should contribute to the generalization and to the recognition of this particular right. Accordingly, the cyber-inclusion project, introduced by the Centre of Information’s Technologies (CTI), challenges in parallel technological development and inclusion of minorities, in particular handicapped people and marginalized lifestyles.
This project consists mainly in searching the appropriate environment to the target population, based on their established potentials, and then, to support the emergence of networks.
Three fundamentals principles are assisting the process. Firstly, integration must remain a foremost concern. Secondly, a three-dimensional approach of activity harmonizes its implementation : requested, necessary and feasible activities. Indeed, nowadays, 60% of the work related to utilization of technologies of information and communication is not yet requested, although necessary and feasible ! Thirdly, to support and to come along with development must be translated into action through adequate structures, promoting cyber-inclusion as well as flexibility of networks.
To think globally
To take action locally
To express oneself individually
Fig.1 : Three-dimensional approach
As illustration of these principles, the CTI proposes two examples.
Firstly, a blind employee joined our team working on information’s technology. She currently realizes specific tasks requesting particular skills. Her contribution increases considerably the quality of our services. Indeed, adjusting the Internet websites of the State of Geneva to the blind citizen, this employee also contributes to enlighten the criteria of accessibility of computer science and technical structures to the blind population.
The second example to be introduced is the active role played by the CTI at the side of the UNCSTD. Indeed, the CTI assists the creation of a dynamic which will capitalize experiences and pilot projects in respect with « e-society » and least developed countries (LDC). Defending a strategy based on a vision emerged from experience and a reflection translated into action, the CTI, and particularly the technological observatory (OT) appears to be a strong and reliable partner for the UNCSTD.
To move on to an « e-society » involves developing specific networks, which allow the enforcement of governance favouring human sustainable development. Moreover, it is fundamental not to raise these systems based on a so-called standardized representation of individuals, but rather on human factors including therefore a maximum of individualities and thus preventing a new category of exclusion : « the cyberexcluded ».
The definition of exclusion is logically connected to the one of inclusion. Indeed, criteria of inclusion define de facto the reasons for exclusion. But this approach is not sufficient to tackle the issue. Powerful majorities, by lobby or by consensus also play a role in the delimitation of that vague framework. However, besides economical and social criteria, moral and ethics also enlarge the number of constraints in that system.
Nevertheless, every society, by its integrating power, logically produces exclusion as well. Unfortunately, among this society, according to one’s education, history, believes and moral code, everyone reproduces these exclusions. Modern society does not escape this perverse cycle : barbarous exclusions are to be encountered on account of race, health abilities, sexual orientation, nationalism, employment, etc.
If no reaction is to be undertaken, our modern life, based on technologies and information science, will have a dividing power in two different directions : firstly numeric and secondly economical exclusion.
The current challenge is not to suddenly eradicate exclusion and injustices on the world, but rather to benefit from the enlargement of world wide communication and networks to bring certain patterns to awareness. « E-society », as a sub-ensemble of the common society is therefore submitted to the same rules : human being is so that injustice will go on. But nowadays, the main concern is that the emergence of this new type of society does not add a new type of exclusion, but rather allows a new type of inclusion for those excluded by other criteria of other sub-ensembles. This task is divided into three axes of action as follows :
Sufficient technological devices (computers, software, Internet networks, etc.) as well as legal structures are the gate keeper to access to « e-society » for individuals and more general actors.
The illustration of the integrating power of the TIC is limpid under the light of handicap. Indeed, as well as technologies extend our potentialities in communication, calculation, programming, and simulation, equal execution of tasks and an interconnected teamwork are thus possible for all, through simple adaptations on the logistic level. A Braille line connected to the computer is an example of how simple the criteria for inclusion may be enlarged to blind population.
Quoting the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OCDE), human capital is defined as follows : « knowledge, qualifications, skills and other qualities possessed by an individual ». Therefore, the more individuals can enlarge their human capital, the broader and the richer will be developed the « e-society ». Contrary to some tendencies to certain actors of our society to keep back information and competencies, the « e-society’s dynamic » is totally turned around. The first skills to be universally distributed must be information and human capital management. Flexibility in dealing with information and abstract material is one of the fundamental requested competences to participate to the « e-society’s activities ». The issue of such qualifications is the practice of an activity among the economic sphere and/or civil society.
Following the principles previously introduced, three types of activities are to be encountered :
1) Necessary activity : the whole activities which are needed by social and economic spheres in order to be reliable.
2) Requested activity : outcome of demands expressed by potential clients, ready to entrust with a mandate.
3) Feasible activity : the human capital operational to respond to the requested activity. These human profiles provide efficient performances to realize entrusted mandates.
The zone located at the intersection of the three circles corresponds to the best balance between the various activities. They consequently represent the « regulated activities ».
Social cohesion as well as social capital can result of this cyber-inclusion approach only if networks are developed and empowered. Indeed, they appear to be the best environment to let emerge human capital through activities and exchange of knowledge and skills.
Networks, as booster of human capital, are the answer to subdivided and centralized power related problems. The classical pyramidal (hierarchic) organization slows down initiative and reduces autonomy. Quite the contrary, network’s organization privileges transversal relationships, and especially vertical and transversal circulation of information. Retained information is therefore a loss of potential. The e-approach prevents subsidiary circulation of information, which divides the monitoring process from the activity process. The raw material of esociety can therefore be defined as knowledge and skills. Thus, a human and reticular structure delimits the framework of action for e-activities. Inside this framework, autonomy is highly recommended and interdependency is preserved by interconnection and exchange of information.
Human concerns also integrate economical constraints, as trade represents one major key to sustainable development. Thus, extension of human capital, through networks and using a cyber-inclusion approach, should not be perceived as a « charitable attitude » but rather the only rational cold approach to remain competitive in e-business and e-trade.
Director of the Centre of Information’s Technologies (CTI) in the State of Geneva (Etat de Genève) since March 2001.