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Monday, 27 March, 2000, 10:42 GMT 11:42 UK
Is Europe losing its soul to technology?
Faster is better, say the entrepreneurs - if you want it now, you should have it now. You're connected, you're plugged in, you're reachable everywhere.
The Now Generation, the Hurry Society - call it what you will. It seems to work for the Americans - but will it work over here?
Is Europe going too fast for its own good? Is technology threatening to destroy Europe's soul? British writer and broadcaster, Simon Hoggart, and the German on-line journalist, Sebastian Voss tackle this issue on this week's Europewide debate. Tell us what you think.
Guillaume Alassuer, France
I don't think it's true to say that Europe is losing it's soul to technology any more than America or any other country is. What is happening is that the individual is being empowered by technology to be a more active citizen. In the next century, it will not be a select group of European bureaucrats making the decisions but a community of European citizens voting on issues in person via the internet. Technology can bring back to Europe the true spirit of a democracy, where everyone can cast a vote on every issue in person.
No. Quite the contrary, technology and communication
will actually reveal the true essence of the " European
Soul" if this can truly be defined.
The danger with questions like "is Europe losing its soul to technology" is that they perpetuate the illusion that there is such a thing as Europe's soul, distinct from the soul of the individual who ponders about it and whose daily personal intercourse with technology shapes Europe's soul.
I told a work colleague that The PM wants all schools 'internet ready' by end 2001, he laughed in derision. If we do not compete, we will DIE.
Andy Dobson, UK, working in USA
I'm the CEO of a startup mobile Internet business. In my opinion Europe as a whole is not deploying technology fast enough. Europe needs to make sure that technology and the Internet are the central theme of all business thinking as we move into the first decade of the new century. We simply cannot afford to be complacent about this issue. Letting up on the pace is not an option.
10% average unemployment in the EU compared to 4.2% in the US. Of course Europeans should embrace the internet like the Americans but even more so if jobs are to be created.
Communications technology builds bridges, it doesn't destroy souls. I find it somewhat ridiculous to suggest it does.
Zaki Moosa, South Africa
Losing our soul is complete nonsense,
IT is going to liberate the individual, improve education, broaden people's minds - open up the future of mankind.
Arturo Rodriguez, Spain
I don't think we are losing our soul to technology - in fact I think
quite the reverse! The increase in the ease of communication -
whether by phone, email, car or plane - has allowed people to break free of
their physical communities (in which they may not be
happy) and become members of "communities of
choice" - virtual or transient communities made up of members who choose to
be there, as opposed to being forced to adopt a particular
community by accident of birth or physical immobility. Of course some claim this
breaks up social cohesiveness - when your friends are in
Moscow or Manchester or Milan and you don't know
your next-door-neighbour's name - but so what?
I am an Englishman married to an American girl and living in Florida. My comment is that the advent of e-commerce gives the smaller business a significant benefit in being able to reach not only a national, but an international market for an incredibly low cost. This is something that was only a dream a few years ago. The faster this service is available, the quicker they will be able to compete for a share of the world's profits.
Jody Palm, USA
Is Europe losing its soul to technology? It's the other way around. If dedication had been combined with technology, it wouldn't have been menacing to mankind in a way as it is today...
At the end of the working day I now have a much greater choice over how I spend my free time; whether it be surfing on the net with my kids and helping with their homework, or having a drink in the 'local' - the choices are immense.
I have a 75 year old mother who is relatively immobile in her home, and has taken up the daunting task (I believe for her generation) of getting to grips with PC's and e-mail. She finds that it is fast becoming a lifeline in communication, especially with a widely spread family, that would otherwise not keep in touch so well.
Simon Bennett, UK
I wasn't aware that Europe had yet become so cohesive as to have a single character or soul. My experiences suggest that Europe is made up of may different flavours and ways of life. The pace of change only affects the speed with which people go from one state to another. What those states are depends on the priorities and desires of those using the technology to achieve change.
Typically, Great Britain has always been too slow to invest in new and innovative ideas forcing the Great British Inventor to go across the pond. That is why we are so far behind the USA, all our good ideas are snapped up by the US businesses who can not only see the immediate and long term turnover but are also not afraid to take risks.
Phil Merry, UK
An unusual topic for debate, technology drives society not the other way around. I mean we didn't lose our souls when water power, the spinning jenny, or television was invented we just changed our lifestyles. The opportunities offered by communication technology do have the potential for great good so I don't think people need to be worried at all.
The level of software development is just about keeping pace with consumer demand especially for GSM phones and in Germany it still seems to be treat still as a second rate skill. Hence the reason that many contractors abroad are British.
I would think that as regarding losing its soul that is nonsense, since technology aids travelling the greater distances in Europe and allows people to stay at home with families and enjoy a more fulfilled social life except us computer contractors of course. But we get good recompense.
Mark Lisle, Germany
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