The Information Society: Economic, Social, and Structural Issues

By Jerry L. Salvaggio | Go to book overview

3
The Origins of the Information Society in the United States: Competing Visions

JORGE REINA SCHEMENT Rutgers University

Behind the Thomson and Homestead and Keystone plants were the famous Lucy and Carrie furnaces for making pig iron; and behind them was the enormous Henry Clay Frick Coke Company with its 40,000 acres of coal land, its 2,688 railway cars, and its 13,252 coking ovens; and behind this in turn were 244 miles of railways (organized into three main companies) to ship materials to and from the coking ovens; and then at a still more distant remove were a shipping company and a dock company with a fleet of Great Lakes ore-carrying steamers; and then at the very point of origin of the steel-making process, was the Oliver Mining Company with its great mines in Michigan and Wisconsin. ( Heilbroner, 1977, p. 95)

World satellite systems now make distance and time irrelevant. We witness and react to crises simultaneously with their happening. Networks of telephones, telex, radio, and television have exponentially increased the density of human contact. More people can be in touch with one another during any single day in the new communications environment than many did in a lifetime in the fourteenth century. The convergence of telecommunications and computing technologies distribute information automation to the limits of the world's communication networks. We are well past the point of having the capability to transform most of human knowledge into electronic form for access at any point on the earth's surface. ( Williams, 1982, p. 230)

Heilbroner's panorama evokes an image of industrial America that is still familiar because it links America's present to its past. The sec

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The Information Society: Economic, Social, and Structural Issues
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - Toward a Definition of the Information Society 1
  • References 13
  • 2 - Evolving to an Information Society: Issues and Problems 15
  • References 25
  • 3 - The Origins of the Information Society in the United States: Competing Visions 29
  • References 48
  • 4 - Silicon Valley: A Scenario for the Information Society of Tomorrow 51
  • References 62
  • 5 - A Comparative Perspective on Information Societies 63
  • References 86
  • 6 - Communication Technology: For Better or for Worse? 89
  • References 103
  • 7 - Information for What Kind of Society? 105
  • References 113
  • 8 - Is Privacy Possible in an Information Society? 115
  • References 129
  • Selected Reading 131
  • Author Index 135
  • Subject Index 139
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