Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
The “information society”, is a term frequently used to describe the social environment and the impact of information and communications technologies on the way people live.
This book, aimed at professionals and academics, is a collection of dialogues from experienced and eminent information professionals. The information society is discussed from a range of perspectives, covering issues from personal data to international policy.
There are four parts to the book that groups related chapters. The parts cover; the information society, fact or fiction; the information society and daily life; the information society and policy; the informational society and the information professional.
John Feather is the ideal writer to start the collection with his chapter on theoretical perspectives. He gives a clear overview of the development of the information society in relation to a range of societal descriptors such as information age and post‐industrial society. Feather presents four models of the information society, the economic model, the technological model, the sociological model, and the historical model. The chapter provides an excellent platform for the plurality of perspectives that follows from other contributors.
Feather's introduction is followed by a challenging “secular view” from Alistair Black presenting the view of the information society as an “evolutionary phenomenon”. Dave Muddiman closes part one of the book with an eloquent discourse on the information society as a manifestation of postmodernist capitalism presenting challenges for the information professionals.
Part two discusses how current developments are influencing society with a look to the future from Chris Batt who rightly predicts the importance of “content” to future information managers; a global view of information literacy from Town, and the importance of technologies new communities from Ian Beeson presenting a case study from Bristol (UK), The True Stories project.
Part three, covers policy, an important section for information professionals. There is perhaps scope for expansion in this section with just two chapters, one covering the scope and importance of information policy, and the other presenting a case study of knowledge management focussing on the NHS.
The final section of four chapters purports a focus on the information professional but. two of the items covered, freedom versus protection, and data protection could have fitted equally well in the section on policy. The third chapter covers the impact of electronic publishing on information access. The final chapter from Peter Brophy considers the changing responsibilities for information professionals in relation to the professional bodies codes of conduct and professional ethics.
All the chapters are well referenced giving a wealth of opportunity for further reading.
As with any collected work the individual reader is going to find particular chapters more relevant than others. However, the book as a whole offers challenging issues for discussion. It is a useful text for undergraduate and postgraduate study of information theory. Its drawback may be its limited lifespan in this dynamic sector.