Is France condemned to go the same way as the Ottoman Empire by being slow to use the Internet just as the Ottomans in their day opposed the spread of printing? This is basically the question put in this piece for the "Futures of yesteryear" section by our colleague André-Yves Portnoff.
Far from claiming to provide an exhaustive study of the causes of the Ottoman Empire's decline and from arguing that they were all cultural, the author stresses the role played by the rejection of printing -and therefore the spread of ideas- in the collapse of an empire that had been more advanced than Christian Europe.
This account is exemplary in simply demonstrating how a nation or a firm, at the height of its success, can suffer as a result of failing to be sufficiently aware of a major innovation. Moreover, he stresses the critical role of education, communication and, more generally, advances in knowledge and ideas in the development process.