Dilemmas in the Study of Information: Exploring the Boundaries of Information Science

Dilemmas in the Study of Information: Exploring the Boundaries of Information Science

Dilemmas in the Study of Information: Exploring the Boundaries of Information Science

Dilemmas in the Study of Information: Exploring the Boundaries of Information Science

Synopsis

This book identifies the limits of the field of information science, and thus raises very real problems of the discipline in the context of people using, misusing, and abusing information. Neill provides many examples of the uses of information to illustrate how difficult it is to work with. In particular he highlights problems of information scientists using information to study information. It is Neill's contention that information use problems are, in certain instances, insoluble dilemmas, for they are grounded in human nature and can be solved only by altering that nature.

Excerpt

There was a story in the New York Times Magazine by Bruce Selcraig in September 1990 entitled Reverend Wildmon's War on the Arts. Reverend Wildmon had been fighting against sex and violence on TV for many years, writing members of Congress and organizing boycotts of products of companies that advertised on the offending programs. Wildmon had established a mass-mailing "information system," and as Selcraig informed his readers, Wildmon knew "his enemies' techniques and jargon well" and could "talk market shares and Nielsen ratings" with any of his opponents (p. 25). Here was a man who knew something about information and how to use it. If at times he fell victim to "selective and sloppy research," he was certainly not alone, as I show in this book, particularly in chapters 4 and 8 and, if philosophers are to be believed, in chapter 9.

Reverend Wildmon's career as a crusader against the sins of the media began when he suffered a case of information overload--the wrong kind of information. To quote from Selcraig:

During the Christmas holidays of 1976 he and his family were gathered around the television one night. When they "got into a program and there was a scene of adultery, . . . we changed the channel; and we got into another program and somebody called somebody else an S.O.B., except they didn't use the initials; changed the channel again; got into a mystery program and then a scene came on, one man had another man tied down and was working him over with a hammer. Asked the children to turn the set off and decided that I would do something about it." (p. 43) . . .

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