European Survey of Information Society


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Information society

An information society is a society where the creation, distribution, use, integration and manipulation of information is a significant economic, political, and cultural activity. Its main drivers are digital information and communication technologies, which have resulted in an information explosion and are profoundly changing all aspects of social organization, including the economy, education, health, warfare, government and democracy. The people who have the means to partake in this form of society are sometimes called digital citizens, defined by K. Mossberger as “Those who use the Internet regularly and effectively”. This is one of many dozen labels that have been identified to suggest that humans are entering a new phase of society.
The word information may be interpreted in many different ways. According to Buckland in Information and Society, most of the meanings fall into three categories of human knowledge: information as knowledge, information as a process, and information as a thing.
James R. Beniger describes the necessity of information in modern society in the following way: ÓThe need for sharply increased control that resulted from the industrialization of material processes through application of inanimate sources of energy probably accounts for the rapid development of automatic feedback technology in the early industrial period (1740-1830)Ô (p. 174) ÓEven with enhanced feedback control, industry could not have developed without the enhanced means to process matter and energy, not only as inputs of the raw materials of production but also as outputs distributed to final consumption.
Jean-Francois Lyotard has argued that "knowledge has become the principle [sic] force of production over the last few decades". Knowledge would be transformed into a commodity. Lyotard says that postindustrial society makes knowledge accessible to the layman because knowledge and information technologies would diffuse into society and break up Grand Narratives of centralized structures and groups. Lyotard denotes these changing circumstances as postmodern condition or postmodern society.
"Second nature" refers a group of experiences that get made over by culture. They then get remade into something else that can then take on a new meaning. As a society we transform this process so it becomes something natural to us, i.e. second nature. So, by following a particular pattern created by culture we are able to recognise how we use and move information in different ways. From sharing information via different time zones (such as talking online) to information ending up in a different location (sending a letter overseas) this has all become a habitual process that we as a society take for granted.