Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Week 2

In a struggle to finish the readings and feel like I had a full grasp on what they were getting at, I caved and looked at the blog to see what other people had been posting about this week. Good to see I’m not the only one who was struggling with it! I liked what Sarah said about these articles demonstrating just how complex information policy is, given how ambiguous and contended just the definition of information still is today. This is definitely what I took away from the readings, as well as the realization that this is an entirely new playing field for me.

I sensed flashbacks to my Communication Studies day in undergrad, especially with reference to Ogg and the likes, and the discussions feel all too familiar but with a different spin (aka “information” rather than media). I found Braman’s topic of information as a constitutive force in society to be one of the most intriguing sections of that article, in particular. The idea of something as ubiquitous as information having a reflexive relationship to society as we see it is very interesting to me. You could talk in circles all day about this, but – going back to Sarah’s question – how is it that we as humans then grapple with this mirrored cycle and try to discern just how to approach questions of information policy.

I really clung to Rowlands note that there is not just one information policy, but rather many information policies created by people, in which case I see Braman’s “information as commodity” becoming even more problematic in society. I also am interested in pushing that notion of context especially within policy. Can there be policies based on context, when – as the readings pointed out – those vary from person to person, discipline to discipline, even culture to culture? I think there are attempts at doing so, but it is impossible to even guess at what the ranges of perspectives are in a given subset of people, let alone on a societal level.


  1. I also enjoyed the notion that Rowlands discussed regarding information policieS that should shape our issues at various times in society. I was also drawn to what Vaidhyanathan said regarding the word information in general, "Information is a bad fit. But, like an ill-fitting suit, at least it's big enough to cover everything, even if it's generally ugly." So we have discussions regarding how to define information and how to define just one policy (or many according to Rowlands). As Sarah mentioned, no wonder it's so difficult to nail down these concepts in the academic world. They are nebulous and far-reaching. It seems most definitions are ill-fitting for information policy. They are either too broad or too specific, thus excluding other disciplines.
    Therefore, I like the idea of an information hierarchy to guide information policy; various situations call for various types of information and policy guidelines. We need to have a pluralistic approach, yet with some common ground across disciplines (Braman). The word information policy is just too large to have a one size fits all mentality.

  2. Katherine - you are all getting to grips with the foundational themes that will crop up again and again throughout the course. As Mel points out above, we're still hashing out the meaning of the word "information" - never mind the word "policy"! Yet, at the end of the day, these imperfect compromises are what we have to collectively work with as a society and a culture. As we move through the semester, please keep an eye on the policy we're studying, and ask yourself at what level the policy intervention is taking place and what the meaning of that is, ultimately, on its implementation.

    Thanks for the thoughtful post and comment.