This week’s readings were certainly a challenge. I won’t claim to understand them fully but here are what I believe are to be some of the major issues brought forth.
First and foremost, in Braman’s article, she says that the only constant in the use and description of information is the term itself. With “…more than 40 academic fields that deal with information…” each has a separate and varying definition of information.
Braman diagnoses the term information as a “definitional dilemma,” and rightly so. With so many competing definitions, it can be safely said that the views and approaches to information making policy are just as diverse, which can create a cluttered, cumbersome process in agreeing on a definition of information, creating information policy.
Braman’s approach to this “definitional dilemma” is the application of theoretical pluralism, using a multitude of theories that each seek to find and analyze various aspects and effects of information. Rowlands, too, discusses multiple theoretical approaches in the study and development of information policy.
The one thing that is clear to me is that information is analyzed in a myriad of ways: economically, culturally, sociologically, politically, etc. Each approach has it pros and cons, and no one theory can justify a policy that would affect thousands or millions of people. For example, as Braman quotes Straus “’ information policy’s issues seen in one country as cultural are understood in another as economic.’” Therefore, one generalized theoretical approach would not suit the diverse study of information, and not preclude a well-thought out policy. Additionally, the study of information is interdisciplinary, and it seems impossible to create one agreeable definition of information. Library professionals must well-versed not only on their own definition of information, but on how different definitions may compete against and/or complement with during the policy making process.
Finally, Vaidhyanathan’s article, among many other things, promoted the idea of “semiotic democracy,” where creative influence can be allowed to thrive in media and social culture. In the areas of copyright law, intellectual property and other information legislations, information policy will directly influence how information can be “revised, edited, and manipulated.”
A lot of this is still fuzzy, but I may be trying too hard to finish the puzzle at the beginning of the class, rather than processing it one piece, one week at a time.