The Information Society, 6th edition

Mar 2013 | 240pp

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The Information Society, 6th edition
A study of continuity and change

John Feather

What is information? Who are the information rich and who are the information poor? How can there be equality of access for users in the light of the political, economic and cultural pressures that are placed upon information creators, gatherers and keepers? Set against a broad historical backdrop, The Information Society explores the information revolution that continues to gather pace, as the understanding and management of information becomes even more important in a world where data can be transmitted in a split second.
This latest edition of this standard work has been fully updated to take account of the changing landscape and technological developments since 2008. The social Web, or Web 2.0, is now embedded in daily life, and some of its applications have become the most popular forms of communication system. Even the predominance of email – one of the most familiar manifestations of the information revolution – is now threatened by texting and the use of such applications as Twitter. The ways in which we expect to interact with information – and how much we are willing to pay for access to it – are throwing up new opportunities and debates. 
At a societal level, as the quantity of personal digitized information continues to grow exponentially, so do both the benefits of exploiting it and the dangers of misusing it. The use of ICT to make government more accessible has to be balanced against the use of technologies that enable the state to be more vigilant or more intrusive, according to one's point of view.
Behind all of this lies further technical change: the massive expansion of connectivity to high-speed broadband networks; the phased abandonment of analogue broadcasting; and above all the widespread availability and use of sophisticated multi-functional mobile devices which carry voice, video and data and which can themselves be carried anywhere. The implications for daily life, for education, for work and for social and political relationships are massive.
Readership: All information professionals and students on courses on information, librarianship and communications studies, where an understanding of the nature of the information society is an essential underpinning of more advanced work.

Introduction. The information society: myth and reality
1. From script to print
  • The origins of writing
  • The alphabet
  • Images, sounds and numbers
  • The first media
  • The development of the book 
  • Printing: the first communications revolution
  • The trade in books  
2. Mass media and new technology
  • The pictorial image
  • The recording and transmission of sound
  • Mass media: radio and cinema
  • Television
  • Computers: the second communications revolution  
3. The information market-place
  • The publishing industry: a paradigm of information transfer
  • Authors and publishers        
  • The diversity of publishing          
  • New directions in publishing               
  • The evolution of the e-book                  
  • The interdependent media: convergence and change         
  • The market: definition and size                          
  • Fragmentation or competition?                     
4. Access to information
  • The price of books and the cost of broadcasts              
  • The cost of libraries                                 
  • Public good or private profit?                           
  • Electronic communications: access and costs              
  • The world wide web                                  
  • Networks: an electronic democracy?                      
  • Electronic publishing: towards a new paradigm?            
  • The cost of access: issues and problems                                     
5. Information rich and information poor
  • The value of information                              
  • Information in developing countries: an issue defined      
  • Wealth and poverty: information and economic development  
  • Information delivery systems: some contrasts             
  • North and South: the world publishing industry            
  • Eastern Europe: a different poverty?                     
  • The limits of wealth: information poverty in the West          
6. Information, the state and the citizen
  • The role of the state: an introduction                   
  • The role of the state: the protection of intellectual property   
  • The role of the state: data protection and personal privacy    
  • The role of the state: freedom of information              
  • The role of the state: censorship                       
  • Contemporary dilemmas: the issues redefined     
7. The information profession: a domain delineated 
  • The role of the information professional                 
  • The work of the information professional                 
  • Librarians and libraries: archetypes in transition            
  • From archivist to records manager                      
  • Information managers                                
  • Managing knowledge                          
Afterword. An information society?        
  •  Studying the information society

"This unconventional text is for students entering the information and communication professions, such as information studies, librarianship, and communication studies. It provides a broad understanding of the nature of today's information society by charting how information has been accumulated, analyzed, and disseminated in the past. In addition to historical aspects, the book also discusses economic and political aspects of the growth of the information society and overviews important elements of the information profession. This sixth edition is updated to reflect changes over the past five years. Feather teaches library and information studies at Loughborough University."
- Reference and Research Book News

"The sixth edition of what has now become a standard textbook in its field, this book has been updated about every four years since the first edition was published in 1994...As an introductory textbook that describes how information has been accumulated, analysed and disseminated through the ages, this book is recommended to library and information students."
- Australian Academic and Research Libraries

John Feather BLitt MA PhD FCLIP is Professor of Library and Information Studies and Dean of the Graduate School at Loughborough University; he is a former Pro-Vice Chancellor of Loughborough University.

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