Social and Economic Transformation in the Digital Era

Maurice B. Line (Harrogate, UK

The Electronic Library

ISSN: 0264-0473

Article publication date: 1 August 2004




Line, M.B. (2004), "Social and Economic Transformation in the Digital Era", The Electronic Library, Vol. 22 No. 4, pp. 362-362.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

The effects of the massive developments in information and communications technology have been the subject of several recent books, mostly consisting of essays on various aspects and from different angles. We are repeatedly told that a fundamental transformation is taking place, but most individuals are conscious rather of relatively small changes around them, little greater than the other changes the world has seen in the last 50 years. The beginning of the industrial revolution may have been like this: fundamental in its lasting effects, but very gradual as experienced from day to day: more of an evolution than a revolution, and perhaps more lasting in consequence.

The book under review is a collection of 18 essays by mostly academic authors from eight countries, the majority British and Greek in origin; Greece also supplies the three editors. It “aims to address this challenge (of examining the cross‐impacts of social, economic and technological aspects of the information society, which requires multidisciplinary work and collaboration on a wide range of skills) by assembling the latest thinking on key areas that mark the social and economic transformation in the digital era”. The four sections deal respectively with “social context and public policy”, “trust and regulation”, “analyzing innovative business models”, and “organizing and managing knowledge work”.

The whole book is long, with over 300 large pages; and it is not clear what audience it is aimed at, other than academics (surely not busy managers). Fortunately, each chapter is preceded by a substantial and informative abstract, which should tell readers if it is likely to be of interest to them. Even more usefully, the preface summarises every chapter.

The book is of no direct interest to the information professions, but it deals with the context within which we shall all operate, if we do not already. I found sections I and IV of most interest; and within those, chapters 3 (“Aspects of social responsibility in the digital era”) and 14 (“Network topology of the new economy”). But every reader can make his/her own choice.

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