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   Tuesday, August 13, 2002  
ICM Lecture 3.
The Concept of “Information Society”

Historical Parallels
• Rise of writing
• Invention of printing press in 16th century
• Industrial Revolution 18th-19th centuries
• Meiji Reformation, 1860s

What Criteria Define “Info Society?”
• Technological-presence and types of technology
• Economic-role of information in economy
• Occupational-jobs in primarily information oriented industries
• Spatial-geographical compression due to networks
Cultural-lifestyles, outlooks, attitudes

Technology Criterion
• Breakthroughs in information, processing, storage and transmission
• Networking of different units in society
• Convergence of telecommunications, computing, and broadcasting industries

John Naisbitt:
• “Computer technology is to the information age what mechanization was to the industrial revolution”

Objections to Technological Criterion
• Which technologies?
• How many technologies?
• How to measure the rate of technological diffusion in society?
• Where is the line between different stages of tech development?

Economic Criterion
• Tech society is determined by orientation of industry into information/knowledge oriented industries
• Changes in economic valuation from industrial institutions to information institutions (General Motors vs. Microsoft)
• Contribution of information industry to GNP

Divisions of Information Industry
• Media (e.g., radio, television, and advertising)
• Information technologies (e.g., computer equipment,)
• Information service (e.g., law, insurance, and medicine)
• Education (e.g., schools, libraries, universities)
• Other information activities (e.g, R&D, Non-profit organizations)
Problems with Economic Criterion
• Hidden value judgment in terms of categorization of different industries
• Difficulty in making a clear distinction between different categories
• Aggregate data fail to identify disparate economic activities
• Lack of qualitative understanding of information society

Anthony Giddens
• As soon as societies are formed into nation states, they become information societies
• Routine gathering, storage and control of information about population and resources are essential to their operations
Occupational Criterion
• Focus on the percentage of labor force composition
• Daniel Bell: the emergence of white collar society

Problems with Occupational Criterion
• Categorizations-how to classify industries
• Failure to identify strategically central information occupations
• Failure to identify different types of information

Spatial Criterion
• One remarkable characteristic of information society is its borderless nature
• The disappearance of national or geographical borders in cyberspace
• Space metaphors:
• Information superhighway
• Cyberspace
• Global village
Anthony Giddens
• Time/space compression
– Electronic commerce
– Tele-commuting
– Tele-medicine
– Distance education
– Video conference

Cultural Criterion
• The culture of new ICT technologies
• The intrusion of information into home, bedroom, and body
– Blurring lines between public and private space
• Over-communication and information anxiety
– The over-consumption of signs and language
• From Mass culture to digital culture

From Mass Culture to Digital Culture
• Transition from mass media to individualized media
• Transition from mass production to tailored production, based on information
• Transition from economics of scale to economics of tailoring (eg. Internet advertising, car manufacturing)

An Information Culture
• Culture synchronization, due to the convergence of new ICT technologies, networks, and industries
Back to the Key Question!
• Are these criteria present to declare that we are in an information society?
– Although technology has changed, researchers have found that change is not substantive
• Criteria are typically ill-chosen, poorly applied, or difficult to discern
Back to the Key Question!
• Does information society constitute a radical break from past cultural practice, values, and social relations?
– No — Cultural determinism
• Information technologies are mere additions to human life
– Yes—Technological determinism

Technological Determinism
• Technology determines certain aspects of human experience, society, or attitudes
• Moreover, technology is its own impetus and catalyst
– Hard determinism: Technology defines human experience
– Soft determinism: Technology influences human experience
Cultural Determinism
• Human society or culture (human response) determines human interaction with technology
– Human factors serve as the catalyst to technological innovation
– Human values determine the place, function, and role of technology
What Does it Matter?
• Each view
– Guides our response to technology
• Should we fear it or embrace it?
• Should we put legal or moral parameters around technologies?
– Affects rate of adoption of new technologies

Types of Media Effects
• Behavioral
– Imitation/Modeling
– Catharsis
– Fear
• Cognitive
– Knowledge/ Learning Effects
• Social
– Create hegemony-set of expectations and ideologies that are unquestioned
– Social construction-creates social environment that reflects media inputs
– Economic/social class restructuring

Assessing Effects
• Do we innovate in ways that are direct responses to our needs, or do the technologies themselves drive innovations?
• Do human desires adjust themselves to existing technology, or does technology adjust to human desires?

Radical Positive Determinism
• Difficulties in assessing effect:
– Technology adds quality to human life
– Technology brings economic development
– Technology liberates humans from
• Oppressive political structures
• Oppressive labor
• Slavery of ignorance

Radical Negative Determinism
• Jacques Ellul (1912-1994)
– Constant theme: Technological tyranny over humanity
– Theological significance of technological change

Negative Tech Determinism
• Orwell “1984”
• Huxley “Brave New World”
Consequences of Technology
• Presuming technological determinism is true
– Positive
• Most futurists, IT entrepreneurs
– Negative
• Ellul, McLuhan

   posted by Lipgloss assassin at 6:47 AM


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