Impact of New Media Annotated Bibliography

Abstract

Carchedi, G. High-Tech Hype: Promises and Realities of Technology in the Twenty-First Century. In Davis, Jim, Thomas A. Hirschl and Michael Stack (eds.). Cutting Edge: Technology, Information Capitalism and Social Revolution, New York: Verso, 1997.

In this chapter, Carchedi discusses the role of technology from a Marxian viewpoint. Assuming that only labor can produce value, he describes what he calls a "vicious cycle" of market growth and expansion where the introduction of more efficient technologies displaces workers and increases unemployment. As unemployment decreases, the purchasing power of consumers and demand for goods decreases as well. Consequently prices will fall. As a result of the technology, goods have less value since a higher level of output can be achieved with fewer laborers.

Limited to the definitions and parameters, Carchedi's arguments are at best consistent. These definitions and parameters and consequently, his argument itself, however, are myopic. The system that he has describes does not adequately account for the source of new technology. He does not take into consideration the fact that additional workers are needed to create this new technology.

Although Carcdehi does an excellent job of analyzing the impact of technology from a Marxian viewpoint, the situations that he describes do not accurately reflect the historical or current trends.

de Long, J. Bradford and A. Michael Froomkin. The Next Economy? in Deborah Hurley, Brian Kahin, and Hal Varian, eds., Internet Publishing and Beyond: The Economics of Digital Information and Intellectual Property, Cambridge: MIT Press, forthcoming, 1998.

This piece looks at the impact that information technology has on three principals of goods on which our current market system is based, excludability, rivalry, and transparency, from an economic standpoint. De Long and Froomkin believe the traditional market that Adam Smith described as being driven by "The Invisible Hand" as the integrity of these principals are undermined by the unique characteristics of digital information and technology. Included in this article is a general discussion on the nature of these principals and their relationship to the information economy as well as a study of specific issues such as the software market and collaborative filtering. The authors conclude that they "unsuited for the information economy." Suggestions for policy are included as well as a brief mention of related macroeconomic issues.

DeLong and Froomkin discusses the underlying economic theories related to information and looks at current issues related to specific aspects of the information economy. They also give outline issues that policy will need to address, but do not develop concrete policy solutions.

Litan, Robert E. and William A. Niskanen. Going Digital!: A Guide to Policy in the Digital Age, Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institute, 1998.

Two economists, admittedly "nontechies", discuss a broad ranges of policy issues related to digital technology including, Intellectual Property, market competition, taxation and privacy. Although they attempt to present both the optimistic and pessimistic views on the future of the Information Economy, they spend a fair amount of time critiquing the pessimistic views. Litan and Niskanen believe that many of the issues raised by the pessimists can be corrected with market solutions. Government policies should be kept at a miminmum, and implemented only cases of market failures. This book covers some very interesting issues in information technology, however, the reader should be wary of a strong libertarian spin put on most of these issues.

Marvin, Carolyn. Challenges to the Dominant Ideology of the Information Age: Philosophical and Theoretical Assumptions, Images of the Future, The International Dimension. In The Ideology of the Information Age, edited by Jennifer Daryl Slack and Fred Fejes, New Jersey: Ablex Publishing Corporation, 1987, Chapter 3.

In this chapter, Marvin takes a macro view of the notion of that we are in an Information Age. In questioning whether or not we are in an Information Age, she analyzes the evolution and nature of information as a commodity.

She asserts that "…the information age and its related concepts are buzzwords, not descriptions of real phenomena" and that "the glorification of the digital distorts our picture of social reality, however, and may have disruptive and largely unacknowledged consequences for economies and cultures we do not understands, because the categories of information we use to describe them reflect only our own digital one-sidedness."

At a time and in a country where there is much hype about information technology, Marvin provides an important perspective that causes us to question the extent and the validity of the framework in which we operate.

Mosco, Vincent. Introduction: Information in the Pay-per Society in The Political economy of information, edited by Vincent Mosco and Janet Wasko. Madison, Wis. : University of Wisconsin Press, 1988.

This chapter examines the ramifications as our actions are "measured and monitored" and resulting in the shift towards a pay-per society. Mosco identifies three central problems imposed by a pay-per society: economic and technological class division, violations of civil and human rights and the facilitation of global warfare." The momentum of the movement towards a pay-per society also creates forces in response to these changes. Mosco identifies two. First, since the information society is not stable, it is difficult for an elite class to maintain its status. Second, as more technology is incorporated in all activities, there are more "rebellions" against the use of technology. He

Mosco raises important issues about a pay-per society, but fails to look at the role of policy in both assessing the problems and suggesting a solution.

Schiller, Dan. The Information Commodity: A Preliminary View. In Davis, Jim, Thomas A. Hirschl and Michael Stack (eds.). Cutting Edge: Technology, Information Capitalism and Social Revolution, New York: Verso, 1997.

In studying the Information Commodity, Schiller looks at the concept of information and commodities separately. He attempts to synthesize numerous theories on these subjects to achieve a better understanding of the Information Commodity. In analyzing information, he looks at several theories of information including the work of Daniel Bell. The author approaches the commodization process using political economic theory.

Thurow, Lester C. Needed: A New System of Intellectual Property Rights. Harvard Business Review, 95-103 September-October 1997.

Thurow analyzes the challenges that face intellectual property rights as a result of new technologies. Included in his discussion, are several specific issues such as the current patent system, software piracy, the shift from publicly funded knowledge to private and licensing. Although his arguments are based upon economics, he presents his arguments without technical discussions

In studying these issues , he concludes that "one size does not fit all" and that an intellectual property system which reflects the vast range of research and which balances the interests of both researchers and the public is needed. Thurow briefly discusses the solutions including the creation of a public agency with "eminent domain" which could purchase or acquire knowledge for the public.

Although Thurow comes up with excellent points regarding the current intellectual property system, his policy suggestion of creating a public agency seems short sighted. It does not take into consideration the potentially biased and bureaucratic nature of a government organization.

Webster, Frank. Theories of the Information Society, New York: Routledge, 1995.

In this chapter, Webster examines the notion of an information society and poses very interesting questions regarding the definitions of an Information Society using technological, economic, occupational and cultural frameworks. In the discussions of the first three frameworks, Webster analyzes the various theories and definitions that are used to define an Information Society. Unfortunately, the section examining an Information Society in a cultural context did not include a discussion of the any previous theories given from a cultural perspective. Webster also includes a short discussion on the definition of information.

Webster proposes very valid and necessary critiques in his analysis of the definitions presented by various theorists. He also poses several important questions including at what point does a society become an information society? Webster does have an approach for defining information society. At the same time, it seemed a little backwards to discuss the notion of an information society before discussing the nature of information itself.

Wresch, William, Disconnected: The Haves and Have Nots in the Information Age New Brunswick, NJ, Rutgers University Press, 1996.

Wresch's approach to information and technology issues in Disconnectedis a unique departure from most of the discussions of technology and information and looks at technoligical disparities on a global level. In studying technological disparities, Wresch does not look at simply providing access, but the social and cultural obstacles of getting people connected. Throughout the book poignant examples and anecdotes from developing countries, Africa in particular, are provided to illustrate his points. Wresch discusses the characteristics and the impact of five different types of information: 1. Public 2. Personal 3. Organizational 4. Professional; and 5. Commericial Information. He identifies three problems with information dissemination: 1. The information exiles, 2. Tyranny and 3. Information Criminals. In the final chapter, titled "Reasons for Hope", the author discusses possible solutions for addressing the issues raised in the book.