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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 14:22 03/09/2007
Journal Abstracts #39: January 30, 2002

Information, Communication & Society

Journal Name: Information, Communication & Society,
Volume 2, Number 1, 1999


The architecture of identity: Embedding privacy in market institutions
By Philip E. Agre
As the Internet becomes integrated into the institutional world around it, attention has increasingly been drawn to the diverse ways in which information technologies mediate human relationships. As an increasingly commercial Internet has been employed to capture personally identifiable information, privacy concerns have intensified. To analyse these matters more systematically, this article considers the ideas about human identity that have been implicit in the development of economics and computer science. The two fields have evolved along parallel tracks, starting with an assumption of perfect transparency and moving toward a more sophisticated appreciation of individuals' private informational states. Progress in the analysis and resolution of privacy problems will require that this evolution be taken seriously and continued.

A plague on the Panoptician: survellance and power in the global information economy
By Stephen Green
With technological advances in data-manipulation, the increased 'informability' of our daily lives and the potential for social management, surveillance has become a key site for understanding the workings of power within the global informational economy. Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon has, courtesy of Foucault, become a dominant metaphor in surveillance studies. This central eye, aimed at the moral reform of institutionalized bodies and operating through a de facto closure of individual agency, tends to limit our conception of the complex ways surveillance serves and disrupts power. Through analysis of commercial and workplace surveillance, this paper shows that power is contested and agency never completely closed down. To comprehend this negotiated relationship, an alternative framework - 'plague management' - is presented. This envisions surveillance within a social setting operated by multiple agents who themselves are open to the gaze of those surveyed. The aim of this project is to categorize rather than to reform and cure, and moreover space is available for resistance. On the global scale, new technologies have opened up space for informal, local surveillances to be effectively linked to media and Internet audiences. These 'surveillance networks', informal alliances of a variety of actors, have the potential to radically alter orthodox relations of power by evading the information controls of the state and connecting a local gaze with the global community. This paper concludes that although surveillance studies has rightly been concerned with the control capacities of IT, a balance must be actively sought with the facilitative, enabling and even democratic impulses nascent in the new technology.

Innovation, electronic publishing and the management of intellectual property: what of digital piracy?
By Puay Tang
This article aims to analyse the effects of piracy on the management of intellectual property (IP) and innovation. The first section discusses the problems associated with digital technologies that are confronting rightholders, and highlights the view that the versatility of these technologies constitutes a major asset for the growth of both electronic publishing and piracy. The effect of piracy on the management of IP and innovation will be discussed in terms of (1) how IP is created; (2) the resources required to stay in the business and the difficulties in maintaining market presence; (3) the means of protection of IP, and (4) the entry barriers to the electronic publishing sector. The analysis is based on an interview sample of thirty-one small- and medium-sized UK-based electronic publishers. The article concludes that while it is right for legislators and those within the industry to seek enhanced copyright protection, it is less clear whether piracy is a material threat to investment in electronic publishing, as it is widely posited to be by the industry

The Informization of the Worldview
By Jos De Mul
The development of information and communication technology in the second half of the twentieth century in crucial respects resembles the development of mechanics in the sixteenth and seventeenth century as it has been described by Dijksterhuis in his study The Mechanization of the World Picture (first published in 1950). In both cases specific technological developments not only lead to important changes in the natural and human sciences, but also profoundly affect culture as a whole and eventually result in a fundamental change in worldview. In this article the author attempts to elucidate the present informatization of the worldview in a twofold way. First, against the background of Dijksterhuis' analysis of the concept of mhan, a clarification is given of the concept of information, which has become central to many sciences in the last decades. It is argued that much of the confusion and misuse that surrounds the application of this concept can be reduced by making a careful distinction between the pragmatic, semantic and syntactic dimensions of information. Second, on basis of this clarification, the author discusses the transformation from a mechanistic to an informationistic worldview. While the mechanistic worldview is characterized by the postulates of analysability, lawfulness and controllability, the informationistic worldview is characterized by the postulates of synthetizability, programmability and manipulability. It is argued that although the informationistic worldview in some respects (for instance in its mathematical orientation) is clearly a continuation of the mechanistic worldview, in other respects it fundamentally alters human experience and the evaluation of, and association with, reality.

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