Information Society Syllabus,
Mass Communication & Mass Society, Social Informatics, Books on Information Society
What is Information Society?
What is the role of information in human behavior,
organization, and society?
We are beginning to live in an "information economy"
and an "information society" - we are entering an "information age." -
Sociology of the information
society, in particular the social-cultural, political, and organizational aspects.
Cultural change through the information revolution, changing patterns of work, employment,
time and space in everyday life.
"The crucial point about a post-industrial society is that knowledge and
information become the strategic and transforming resources of the 'information' society,
just as capital and labor have been the strategic and transforming resources of industrial
society." - Daniel Bell
"Human societies have seen four
distinct revolutions in the character of social interchange: speech, writing, printing and
now telecommunication. Each revolution is associated with a distinctive,
technologically-based, way of life." - The Social Framework of the Information
Society, (Bell 1989)
"We are witnessing a historic transformation of the
traditional modes of power. Power is becoming based less on physical and material
parameters (territory, military forces) and more on factors linked to the capability of
storing, managing, distributing, and creating information." - Regis Debray
Information is the defining feature of the
modern world. Former Citicorp Chairman Walter Wriston has reportedly
claimed that information about money is more valuable than money itself. Wriston has been
praised for building Citibank into "the one institution that understands that finance
no longer has to do with money but with information."
We should study the social nature of
information and information systems, and their design and use as part of how people make
sense out of their worlds, interact with one another, and coordinate action across time
and space. Great attention is now devoted to the informatization of social life. We have
entered an Information Age.
"Information society is enslaved in its freedom." - vpr
We should consider such issues as the social
construction of information; knowledge communities and organizations; the collaborative
nature of knowledge; the self and community in an electronic world; involving users in
system design; and issues in human-computer interaction, and computer-supported
In the mid 90s, when the Internet became popular, it
became clear that digital divide was holding back the possibility of tremendous progress.
A way had to be found to close the digital divide or the gap between those who do not have
computer or Internet access and those who do. Now we have moved into a global information
economy and identify societies that have bridged the digital divide, such as the United
States, Japan, Germany, and other nations with an informed way of life as information
In the study of information society we try to understand the
complex relationship between technological change, its effect upon social divisions, its
consequences for social action and the emerging strategies for social inclusion in the
What is Information Society? What is the role of
information in human behavior, organization, and society?
Definitions of the Information Society: Webster
bundles definitions of the information society into five categories - Technological,
Economic, Occupational, Spatial and Cultural.
The spectacular growth of technological innovation in the last few decades and more
recently the increasing convergence between telecommunications and computers has been seen
as the powerhouse of economic growth:
"Computer technology is to the information age what mechanisation was to the
industrial revolution" (Naisbitt, 1984).
Based on the work of Malchup in the 1960's, this approach tries to gather statistics
on the industrial groupings in which information has a central role. Malchup focussed on 5
such groupings: Education, media and communications, information machines, information
services, 'other' information activities.
This approach asserts that the information society has arrived when most people work
in 'information work'. According to Porot, the numbers involved in the information
workforce in the US double every 18.7 years between 1860 and 1980. Much sociological
research has gone into analysing the consequences of the changes from a predominantly blue
collar workforce to a 'white collar society'.
Geographers stress the importance of the spatial features of an information society.
John Goddard identifies 4 elements in the transition to an information society:
- Information becomes a key strategic resource in the global economy
- IT and telecommunications provides the information infrastructure - networks
and 'information superhighways'
- Growth of a 'tradable information sector' - new multimedia, on-line databases
- 'Informatisation' of the economy. The integration of national and regional
The view of the post modernists (PM) is that the huge increase in information does
not mean that we are just presented with information via the media - it now constitutes
part of us. We now live in a 'sea of signs', there is "more and more information and
less and less meaning" (Baudrillard).
Social Informatics broadly refers to:
- the body of research and study that examines social aspects of computerization
- the role of information technology in social and organizational change and
- the ways in which social forces and social practices influence the social
organization of information technologies.
Social Informatics also includes:
- social impacts of computing,
- social analysis of computing,
- studies of computer-mediate communication (CMC),
- information policy,
- organizational informatics,
- interpretive informatics.
Social Informatics Studies ensures that technical research agendas and system
designs are relevant to people's lives and technical work is socially-driven rather than
Acacia Initiative - The idea of Acacia emerged at the 1996 Information
Society and Development Conference, the first event of its kind held in a developing
country, South Africa, and was thus closely associated from the outset with efforts by
developing countries, particularly in Africa, to ensure that their voices would help shape
the Global Information Society. - idrc.ca/acacia/
End of Millennium : The Information Age, Economy, Society and Culture
By Manuel Castells
Description: The final volume in Manuel Castells' trilogy is devoted to processes of
global social change induced by interaction between networks and identity. Castells
studies empirically the collapse of the Soviet Union, tracing it back to the incapacity of
industrial statism to manage the transition to the information age.
What Information Society?
by Frank Webster
Commentators increasingly talk about information as a defining feature of the modern
world. Much attention is now devoted to the informatization of social life: we are told
that we are entering an Information Age, that a new mode of information predominates, that
we have moved into a global information economy. Many writers even identify as information
societies the United States, Britain, Japan, Germany, and other nations with a similar way
of life. Indeed, it appears that information has "become so important today as to
merit treatment as a symbol for the very age in which we live." -
Theories of the Information Society (The International Library of Sociology)
by Frank Webster - Theories of the Information Society provides commentaries on all the
postwar theories of the information society--Bell, Schiller, Baudrillard, Giddens and
Castells. Interest in "information" is growing in the wake of the modernity
post-modernity debate. The debate suggests that the Western economic base has shifted from
production/manufacturing to service and information, which has the changed the class
structure and political process.
The Rise of the Network Society
by Manuel Castells - The Rise of the Network Society, the first volume in a trilogy
collectively known as the Information Age, has earned Manuel Castells comparisons to such
illustrious social critics as Max Weber and Karl Marx. Just as they worked to make sense
of industrial capitalism, so does Castells put forth a systemic analysis of the global
informational capitalism that emerged in the last half of the 20th century. While many
books have considered the development of increasingly sophisticated information
technology, the shifting conditions of employment and responsibility within corporations,
or the rise of corporations whose domains are spread out over several nation-states,
Castells unites these topics in a comprehensive thesis, negotiating the tightrope between
academic sociology and mainstream business analysis.
"Content and Pedagogy in Teaching About the Social
Aspects of Computerization" Rob Kling
Based on a KEYNOTE TALK for: International Working Conference --
"The Impact of Information Technology: From Practice to Curriculum " Sponsored
by IFIP - International Federation for Information Processing TC-3 Education (WG 3.2) and
TC-9 Relationship Between Computers and Society (WG 9.5) Israel, March 18-21, 1996
Tom Forester (ed), The Micro Electronics Revolution: The Complete Guide to
the New Technology and Its Impact on Society, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1980;
Tom Forester (ed.), The Information Technology Revolution, The MIT Press, Cambridge,
Tom Forester (ed.), Computers in the Human Context: Information Technology, Productivity,
and People, The MIT Press,
Cambridge, Mass., 1989.
David Ronfeldt, Cyberocracy, Cyberspace, and Cyberology: Political Effects of
the Information Revolution, P-7745,
RAND, Santa Monica, 1991.
Awful terms like "compunications," "technetronic society," and
"computopia" have already come and gone. James R. Beniger,
The Control Revolution: Technological and Economic Origins of the Information Society,
Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1986.