Information and Society (MIT Press Essential Knowledge series)
We now live, we are told, in an information society and this is considered to be a very important development. But what does it mean? And what are the consequences? In answer, we offer a short informal introduction to ways in which information and society are related and to our ever-increasing dependence on a vast increase in documents and data of many kinds.
The word information is used here in an ordinary, everyday way. Other, specialized uses in law, statistics, thermodynamics, cryptography, and elsewhere we leave to others. We are concerned with information as influencing what we know, with the role of communication and, especially, recorded information, in our daily lives, and with how information is found. We are, therefore, concerned with beliefs, social agendas, and changing technologies. These are complex areas that resist simple, formal explanation. There are conceptual and theoretical difficulties that we will mention but do not claim to solve. Our purpose is to provide a descriptive introduction which draws on the work of many people and little of it is original. Since it is an elementary introduction, the detailed citing of sources ordinarily found in academic writing is not provided. However, much of the text is adapted from earlier publications which are identified in the Further Reading section at the end where some additional sources are also suggested.
I thank Wayne de Fremery for his insight on Information Theory, Wayne Heiser for help with Zublin’s letter, and Lisa Börjesson, Colin B. Burke, Vivien Petras, and Lin “David” Wang for their helpful comments on early versions of the text.
|August 28, 2018
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