Monday, September 13, 2010

Week 2 readings

I also struggled with the readings at first and I agree that the order that they are read in makes a difference. I started with Braman, moved on to Rowlands and ended with the Vaidhyanathan article. It was really the Vaidhyanathan article that brought everything together for me, which is kind of fitting for this module, as one definition of "information" is anything that reduces uncertainty. For me, the reason that the first two articles dragged a bit was they were primarily focused on research and much more academic in their tone. Vaidhyanathan's article was much more broad spectrum and full of real world implications for how information and information policy can effect our day to day lives and cultural discourse.

So after struggling with the readings I've been struggling to scrape some disparate ideas regarding copyright, fair use, sampling, open access journals, cultural influence and voting machines into a coherent post. Thankfully, for everyone, I've given up on that idea.

By way of synthesis, I thought that the two primary threads to this weeks readings were: 1. Informational is multidimensional and therefore eludes easy definition and 2. The way in which we define information i.e. resource, commodity, perception of pattern or constitutive force has has political, social, economic and cultural consequences.

We need to have a variety of lenses through which we view information and create information policy because information could fit any one of the above definitions or all of them at once. Ignoring one aspect can lead to unintended consequences when crafting policy. Vaidhyanathan's example of the Swarthmore students outing internal Diebold memos is a perfect case in point. Copyright law was never intended to censor information that is essential to an ongoing public debate, in this case a matter of central importance to our democracy, the reliability of of our electoral process.

The ongoing debate regarding net neutrality is another example and I think that some of the implications get to the core of what Rowlands meant by information as constitutive force. The resolutions that we as a society come to regarding net neutrality will have a lot to do with whether we become a true "Information Society" in David Puttnam's sense of the term or whether we become, in his words, "a marketplace full of information companies."

1 comment:

  1. David, I also agree with the two primary threads that you pulled from the articles.

    The first that information is multidimensional and therefore eludes easy definition really hits home with me. How many times have you been in a classroom where one student interpreted a reading one way, while another had a whole different aspect on it. This ties into the second primary thread, too. Information is multidimensional and cannot be defined in only one way or one field.

    Very good comments on the articles!