I'm delighted to introduce a new occasional guest blogger on Boing Boing, Dr. Jacques Vallee
, who will contribute posts every so often. In the world of computer science, Jacques is best known for his pioneering database research in the 1960s at Stanford Research Institute and then, during the next decade, for leading the development of the the world's first network-based computer conferencing system for the ARPANET. He launched that project, called PLANET, in 1972 at Institute for the Future
(IFTF), the non-profit thinktank where I'm a researcher. At IFTF, Jacques and his colleagues studied the social impact of online communication and explored its applications in industry. In 1976, Jacques founded InfoMedia, the first computer conferencing and groupware company. I met Jacques in person several years ago when he popped into IFTF for a visit. It was quite exciting for me as I was quite familiar with his work, albeit in a very, very different context.
For nearly fifty years, Jacques has studied the history and culture of the UFO phenomena and written a slew of fantastic books on the subject, always calling for a scientific investigation of reports rather than an approach rooted in belief. Among ufologists, Jacques is very much a "heretic among heretics" for opposing the typical opinion that UFOs are nuts-and-bolts spaceships piloted by extraterrestrials. Jacques once said, "I'll be disappointed if (UFOs) turn out to be only spacecraft from outer space." Whenever I see the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind, I get a kick out of François Truffaut's character Claude Lacombe insisting that the UFO phenomenon "is an event sociologique!" That is exactly something Jacques would say, and indeed Steven Spielberg based the character on him. My favorites of Jacques' books are Passport to Magonia: From Folklore to Flying Saucers, Messengers of Deception, and The Invisible College, where he considers whether we're living inside an information-based control system, a mind-spinning idea that's now embraced by many physicists.
Recently, Jacques published the second volume of his personal journals, titled Forbidden Science, and is now completing a new book about ancient UFO sightings. He also works as a partner in a venture capital firm investing in emerging technologies with potential space applications. Jacques's intellectual rigor around anomalous phenomena and weird science has inspired me since I was a teenager. I'm thrilled to have his voice on Boing Boing.
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