Society on the Line: Information Politics in the Digital Age

Society on the Line: Information Politics in the Digital Age

Society on the Line: Information Politics in the Digital Age

Society on the Line: Information Politics in the Digital Age

Synopsis

Society on the Line presents a new way of thinking about the social and economic implications of the revolution in information and communication technologies (ICTs). It offers a clear overview of information in the digital age, and explains how social and technical choices about ICTs influence access to information, people, services, and technologies themselves. The author calls this process `the shaping of tele-access' and shows how the concept challenges prevailing theoretical perspectives of the information and communication revolution. His clear, informed and challenging analysis ranges from the household; through the workplace and business organization; to the media as new information providers; and to government policies on information and economic strategy. In doing so he touches on important issues of information inequality, privacy, censorship, the Internet; information and organizational design; and information in the community and public policy. The main text is fully supported by case studies, boxed information, and essays written by leading ICT experts on both sides of the Atlantic. This accessible and useful book offers an invaluable guide to the information politics of the digital age. Pre-publication Endorsements `Society on the Line is a very useful book that organizes and analyses clearly and cogently a substantial body of relevant documentation. It will become required reading in universities around the world.' Manuel Castells, Professor of Sociology, University of California; author of the The Rise of the Network Society `...a fascinating perspective...which provokes fresh consideration of the issues. By showing us how to identify the games being played in the on-line environment, Dutton helps us focus on the pressure points for achieving respect for our information. Privacy need not be at risk as ICTs are exploited.The more we understand the drivers for change, the more we can influence the information handling culture which is emerging.' Elizabeth France, UK Data Protection Registrar

Excerpt

This book presents a new way of thinking about the social and economic implications of the revolution in information and communication technologies (ICTs). It offers a critical perspective on information politics in the digital age--the way social and technical choices about ICTs influence access to information, people, services, and technologies themselves. I have called this process 'the shaping of tele-access' and this book shows how this concept challenges prevailing theoretical perspectives on the information and communication revolution. It also proposes a framework for policy and practice, for the shaping of tele-access is directly connected to choices in everyday life, to strategies in the workplace, to the application of ICTs in government, education, and the household, and to issues of public policy

My focus on the social shaping of tele-access evolved from an effort to synthesize a decade of research undertaken by the UK's Programme on Information and Communication Technologies (PICT). Supported by grants from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) of Britain, pict was one of the most ambitious social research initiatives in Europe to be focused on the role of ICTs in social and economic development (see Appendix).

Pict involved numerous social scientists from different disciplines-- geographers, management scientists, political economists, and sociologists --at six university research centres across the uk. They published dozens of books and hundreds of articles based on their pict research, contributing many new concepts and themes to the literature, and influencing contemporary understanding of the social shaping and impacts of ICTs.

The wide range and significance of pict research led to a programme- wide synthesis during the final years of the programme. I joined pict as its national director at the launch of this final-synthesis phase. One of my major responsibilities was to determine if the programme as a whole added up to more than the sum of its parts. This goal led me on a search for an integrative concept or theme that could encapsulate the central contributions across the full range of pict research.

I needed an all-embracing concept that would achieve three related objectives. First, it was important to synthesize and extend all the most important themes of pict research, and not focus on one particular stream of work. Secondly, I wanted a concept that applied well to the full . . .

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