Journal Name: Information, Communication & Society,
Volume 2, Number 2, 1999
Information Warfare and the Future of the Spy
By Philip H.J. Davies (Department of Sociology, University of Reading)
This article examines the impact of the new ICTs on the collection of covert intelligence and covert political actions undertaken by national intelligence agencies. It is argued that there exist two distinct doctrines in the literatures of intelligence and information warfare concerning the future relative importance of information from human sources ('agents') and technical methods (signal interception, overhead imagery and the emerging field of clandestine penetration of networked information systems). The arguments in favour of human and technical methods are examined in the context of information warfare techniques and technologies, as are covert action methods such as disinformation, disruptive action and 'cyber-sabotage'. Certain civil liberties implications of ICT-based strong encryption are also examined. The article concludes that what is required is a greater emphasis on integrating human and technical methods into a unified whole, especially where human methods can provide opportunities which can be further exploited by technical methods.
Infomedia Literacy: An educational basic for young people in the new information age
By Alice Y.L Lee (Hong Kong Baptist University)
The aim of this article is to introduce the concept of infomedia literacy, which refers to the ability to process critically all kinds of written information, sound, images, graphics and values transmitted by the new technology. This article argues that when information technology merges with communication technology, there is a need for a new form of literacy. The article is divided into two parts. The first part uses empirical data from Hong Kong to illustrate the necessity of providing infomedia literacy training to young people in schools. Adopting the perspective of socially constructed technology, the second part attempts to conceptualize infomedia literacy and define its rationales, aims, scope, key components and characteristics. A socially participatory approach of infomedia education is proposed. It is suggested that infomedia literacy as a life skill in the new information age has several components: (1) an understanding of the nature and functions of infomedia and critical awareness of their impact on individuals and society; (2) the skill of critical analysis of information transmitted throughinfomedia technology; (3) the skill of efficient search and selection of information; (4) knowledge to use infomedia technology for self-expression; (5) aesthetic appreciation; and (6)social participation by influencing the development of infomedia technology.
Schooling the Information Society? The Place of the Information Superhighway in Education
By Neil Selwyn (School of Education, Cardiff University)
Despite a history of educational resistance to technology, the internet and, in turn, the information superhighway, have been popularly heralded as having the potential to transform schools the world over. In doing so there has been a conspicuous lack of critical examination of the information superhighway's role in education. This article therefore contrasts popular conceptions of the 'educational' superhighway with the likely social and cultural implications of the 'wired' school. From this perspective the article first examines three central claims that are popularly made about the information superhigh-way in education: namely, the unbridled access to information it will afford teachers and learners; the potential for interactive communication with other individuals; and the equality it will imbue. These popular discourses are then contrasted with two fundamental characteristics of the information superhighway which are often overlooked by its advocates: the different quality of learning experienced 'on-line' and the educational implications of the inherent economic nature of the emerging information superhighway. The article then concludes by suggesting an alternative approach to examining the implementation of the information superhighway in an educational context.
The Role of Temporality in Mediated Communication and Technology Convergence
By T. Andrew Finn (University of Kentucky)
This article examines two components of temporality that have implications for electronically mediated communication. One is the dichotomy of simultaneous/non-simultaneous communication and then the varying degrees of non-simultaneity that are possible. The other is the fundamental difference between timed and untimed communication. Timed communication is temporally based and sequential, while untimed communication, such as print and still image content, is spatially based. The article argues that there are two fundamental types of mediated communication: communication mediated across time and communication mediated across space. The implications of temporality for both forms of mediated communication are examined in detail. The implications of temporality and mediated communication for multimedia, technology convergence, and research are discussed.
Technological Work and Women's Prospects in the Knowledge Economy: An Agenda for Research
By Juliet Webster (Trinity College Dublin)
This article sets out the conceptual and analytical framework underlying a 3-year long, 8-country research project which will examine the dynamics of women's employment in sectors critical to the so-called 'Information Society'. The project is fundamentally concerned with the gender dynamics of employment in the 'Information Society' or 'Knowledge Economy', and with whether they signal potentially greater gender equity than we currently have in contemporary capitalist society. Specifically, the project's central objective is to examine the prospects for women workers to develop new forms of expertise and skill which promote their career and personal development potential. It will focus on women's work and employment in two growing service sectors, retailing and retail financial services, in the context of leading edge innovations in technology and work organization. This article outlines the thinking behind the research project, in particular the major conceptual frameworks and the research questions which they have generated. It discusses the concepts of the 'Information Society' and the 'Knowledge Economy', and questions their relevance for female employees in routine jobs, raising the historical issue of women's exclusion from knowledge and skill. It considers the importance of the two sectors under study, retailing and retailing financial services, both for notions of the Information Society and for their role as important employers of women. It reviews recent organizational, technological and employment innovations in these sectors particularly in the Anglo-Saxon economies. It then raises questions about how far these dynamics might be present in other European economies, and what their implications are for women's ability to develop significant bodies of expertise and career prospects. The project is in its early stages, and this article is planned as the first in a series of papers dealing with the work as it progresses.
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