2Why Does the Internet Side with Dubious Ideas?

2.1. The utopia of the knowledge society and the empire of beliefs

Like several major technological innovations, the Internet has roused many fears and hopes, and various well-selling books testify to both the former and the latter1. Some think that the Web, as it allows an exponential mass diffusion of information and potentially free access to this information for everyone, seems capable of giving rise to the knowledge society. This notion, first used by Drucker [DRU 69] and on several occasions taken up again and expanded on [MAN 98, STE 94], is based on one observation: the alterations of our production systems have led our societies to regard knowledge and innovation as key factors in economic development, and free access to this knowledge as the fundamental issue of our democratic future. The theory of the knowledge society claims to be analysis and political project at once. From this perspective, the UNESCO world report Towards Knowledge Societies may be regarded as a sort of manifesto (p.17): “The current spread of new technologies and the emergence of the Internet as a public network seem to be carving out fresh opportunities to widen this public knowledge forum. Might we now have the means to achieve equal and universal access to knowledge, and genuine sharing? This should be the cornerstone of true knowledge societies, which are a source of human and sustainable development.”

This report is fundamentally based on a ...

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