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Presentation of the journal Terminal

Terminal is a journal that publishes critical analyses of societal changes driven by the diffusion of ICTs and the internet. Terminal endeavours to support multidisciplinary and transversal thinking about cultural and social issues related to ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies). The journal is open to collaborations with NGOs, academic research labs or independent researchers. In recent volumes, we have for example addressed the issues of privacy, sustainable development and ICTs, and web practices. Under the supervision of an editorial board, it created a scientific committee in order to better understand the social reality of new technologies through the lenses of scientific thinking and social practice.

Authors’ guidelines

Terminal welcomes contributions dealing with the topic of “Information technologies and society”, and which fit into its modules and special issues. In order to submit a contribution to Terminal, please send an email to the editor1 by using text, Word or Open Office formats. An email will acknowledge the receipt of the contribution. For academic ones, anonymised articles are sent to two reviewers following the double-blind procedure. Authors are informed about the outcome of the evaluation process within three months following submission. They are asked to suggest potential reviewers with their contact details, who might be contacted by the editor. Suggested reviewers must not have collaborated with the author(s) in the past five years. The language of the journal is French, but we are opened to proposals in English, German, or Spanish. Translations can be made depending on available resources.

Format of articles

The editorial board draws attention on the journal’s original project which is half way between academic publications and magazines. Terminal is not only an academic publication. It also enables the diffusion of critical thinking, and pays attention to the soundness of the reflections and to their underlying principles.

Terminal is not only targeting researchers but wishes to catch the attention of readers coming from a variety of horizons and practices. Authors will pay attention to the ease of reading, to the quality and soundness of the argument. Articles should be original ones and have some degree of impertinence. Researchers, social actors, members of unions or NGOs can write in Terminal to plant the seeds of new ideas or to test on-going ways of reasoning, whichever sphere they are writing from.

To help authors construct their proposals, we keen on publishing contributions such as:

  • Papers focusing on an issue that does not require an excessive disciplinary positioning.

  • Papers for non specialists, targeting knowledgeable readers (making a limited use of footnotes and references).

  • Papers whose size ranges between 25000 and 30000 characters (incl. spaces), with some possible exceptions.

Where does Terminal come from?

Before becoming a quarterly journal, Terminal used to be a by-monthly magazine. It came from activists’ initiatives in the end of the 1970s – beginning of the 1980s. Our aim at the time was not to create an academic journal but rather to participate to a societal debate opened by NGOs and unions, which had joined forces against personal data storage (SAFARI project about the unique identifier, GAMIN project about automated child health management). The French Data protection act had just been promulgated, and the government of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing was launching an ambitious computer policy, following the report entitled “The computerisation of society” written by Simon Nora and Alain Minc.

  • 2 Le système technicien (1977).
  • 3 La technique et la science comme « idéologie », titre original : Technik und Wissenschaft als “Ideo (...)

Our analyses at the time were probably marked by some degree of empiricism and simplistic activism, although we did publish more theoretical points of view with contributions by Pierre Lévy, Jean Chesneaux or Félix Guattari, to name but a few of the recurrent contributors to the magazine. Terminal aimed to be an echo chamber for those criticising personal information storage (Gamin project, “unfalsifiable” ID of Charles Pasqua), the standstill of the CNIL, or for the ones praising an “alternative” computer law or defending workers of the computer industry. This stemmed from critics partly developed by philosophers such as Jacques Ellul2 and Jürgen Habermas3, but also from Marx, who were all must authors at the time.

However, we have gone beyond the mere criticism of the way computer processes were being developed. We were also seeking to understand scientific and technological evolution in special issues such as “Digital beauties” or “The AI virus”, as well as problems related to computer literacy (in schools, in universities, or in companies in N° 31-32: “Mutant firms are looking for training”).

Social reality has rapidly shown us that although disaster scenarios à-la-Big-Brother were outdated. It has also taught us that utopia were not getting along well with the management of public companies and political power (Centre mondial de la microinformatique, Minitel, nationalisation of Bull, to name a few of the many initiatives taken during this decade). In those years, change came from technology (personal computing, Internet, user-friendliness of interfaces, ...). Then, from a rejection of centralised computing and its related risks, social criticism shifted its attention to open access and the democratisation of IT resources (more PCs, more power, more bandwidth, ...).

In the early 1990s, the magazine transformed into a quarterly journal, less activist and eclectic, but more rigorous and with an open ear to theoretical thinking, whether it came from research labs or NGOs or unions. This change has led to new dynamics in the editorial board. The journal was split into modules (networks, technology-labour, multimedia, strategy, identity power) that were led by one or several members of the board. A number of special issues focused on a transversal theme (internet, open source software, Telecommunications, ...). Starting from N° 87, each issue now has a thematic dossier, composed of articles coming from the various modules.

With the switch to electronic diffusion, Terminal will remain multidisciplinary and critical to its analysis of ICTs and their societal impacts. Within this realm, we aim to link up academic research, actors’ strategies, and the points of views of NGOs and unions.


1 Editor’s email:

2 Le système technicien (1977).

3 La technique et la science comme « idéologie », titre original : Technik und Wissenschaft als “Ideologie” (1968).

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