I at first had trouble with this weeks readings which I think could have been avoided if I had read them in a different order because after reading all three I began to see some overarching themes that I think are important for thinking about information policy.
I think the three authors got at the idea that information policy is driven by and a part of many disciplines and creation of information policies need to take into account ideas, policies, considerations, etc from these different areas. For example, copyrights or other legal protection of an author’s rights can be viewed from cultural, economic, legal, political, or social perspectives. I personally encountered this last spring when I had to do background research in business models, computer sciences, politics, and culture in order to right a paper about China’s copyright laws.
I also noticed the authors focused on how we do not have a clear definition of information or an agreed upon approach to discussing or thinking about information and information policies. I think the problems with defining and approaching information creates problems with creating policies because different groups are approaching the problem from different directions and we need to find a common ground to create effective information policies. I thought it was interesting that Braman talked about information as resources, information as commodity, information as perception of pattern, and information as a constitutive force in society, and then discussed how the policy maker’s perspective, how information will be treated in a particular situation, and the power of information in a situation will affect which definition of information is used. However, I am not sure that the hierarchical approach to defining information really helps clarify things for me.
Finally, I found the Vaidhyanathan article the most difficult to think about and apply to the other readings and real life. I think on a basic level he is also talking about a need for scholars and people form a plethora of disciplines to come together in the establishment of information policies. I did not completely agree with his discussion of positive liberty versus negative liberty; I am not sure if it is suspicion or cynicism but I do not think it is a good idea for the state to “foster spaces, technologies, norms, and processes that maximize certain kinds of speech (304).” In his discussion of positive liberty he talked about open source, open systems, and open standards. I think providing free and open access to information is important but something about government supporting and encouraging certain forms of speech does not sit right with me.