The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'minitel'
Minitel, France's proprietary information network, is 20 years old. Initially started as a means of replacing paper phone directories, it evolved into a model of what the Internet would have been like if the French had invented it: centralised, subsidised, run by a state-owned monopoly, based on proprietary technology and tidy, if a bit bland. Oh, and it's based around 1980s-vintage technology and phone lines. Though even while the French embrace the Internet, Minitel is far from dead; the lightweight, micropayment-based model of information exchange embodied in it is apparently being adapted to mobile phones, where it will undoubtedly prove as spectacularly popular as WAP.
The story of Minitel, France's idiosyncratic national online service, hailed as a world leader in the 1980s, now seen as embarrassingly dated by some, yet still a source of national pride to many French users.
Just as anti-globalisation campaigner José Bové tapped into a rich French vein of resentment for many things Anglo-Saxon and for lousy American food in particular when he vandalised a McDonald's restaurant last year, so Minitel need not politely defer to the internet. Just yet. Dominique Lamiche of France Télécom says: "We'll always have people who prefer to buy a train ticket on the Minitel because it's fast and one knows how to manage it. You don't need the internet's animated pictures to buy a simple train ticket."