Art and the information society

Authored by: Katherine Thomson-Jones

The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Information

Print publication date:  June  2016
Online publication date:  June  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138796935
eBook ISBN: 9781315757544
Adobe ISBN: 9781317633495


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Without assuming any particular account of information, there is a basic sense in which information societies have existed as long as human beings have lived together and relied on data exchange. At the same time, there is another sense in which the information society is a very recent phenomenon. As a theoretical notion, the “information society” was introduced by economists in the 1970s to refer to a new, post-industrial phase of development marked by the growth of the service sector and the introduction of digital communications technology (Crawford 1983). The arrival of the personal computer in the 1980s and the rise of the Internet in the 1990s gave this notion even greater significance. The massive proliferation of networked digital devices allows for the processing and distribution of information at an unprecedented rate and without the limitations traditionally imposed by geographical distance or by degradation during copying and storage. A contemporary “digital citizen” has access to and is typically inundated with far more information than they could ever hope to assimilate. With the help of computer-automated tools, we learn to filter and sort the information we receive digitally and online. These tools contribute to the technological infrastructure supporting the contemporary information society, comprised of both hardware and software and associated with server farms, satellite networks, personal computers, cell phones, and digital sound- and image-recording devices. In turn, information and communication technologies, or ICT, are supported by the information and computational sciences, ICS. As Luciano Floridi explains, “The most developed post-industrial societies live by information, and ICS-ICT is what keeps them constantly oxygenated” (Floridi 2002: 127).

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