Information has become a strategic resource, a factor of production along with land, labour and capital. In some ways it rivals the money form as vector of value and means to power and influence in the new order. Narrowing the definition of information to mean a use‐value which conveys knowledge about the world and excluding bits, bytes and digitized transactions such as money transfer, brings us to the dynamic, booming “tradeable information” sector of the economy. This new area of growth can be seen as the precursor, in embryonic form, of a new mode of production. Just as the spinning‐wheel and steam‐engine epitomize earlier phases of industrial development, so the computer and its network links to the outside may herald a new form of social organization, albeit coexisting within earlier modes for the forseeable future. The emerging informeconomy exists, of course, in the real world of market relations, recession and global corporations. The backdrop is the economic equivalent of World War III, where only the toughest survive, be it in steel, cars, electronics or agricultural commodities. Where do libraries and information centres fit into this picture? Do we stand in relation to this process like the declining corner‐shop of the information world, confronted with the rise of the super‐, mega‐ and hypermarket? In the world of privatized consumption, “spectacular” domination, will the still small voice of humanistic culture survive?
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