What is the Information Society?

An information society is a society in which the creation, distribution, use and integration of information constitutes a significant economic, political and cultural activity. Its development is characterized by a high level of telecommunication technologies. It allows a great flexibility in the field of training and work, as well as practical life (telemedicine services). It also promotes new forms of citizen participation.

What is it?

The information society is a society in which the creation, distribution, use, integration and manipulation of information is a significant economic, political and cultural activity. It is characterized by high levels of information and communication technologies and their intensive use by citizens, businesses and public administrations.

The massive growth of telecommunication networks, internet connectivity and multi-functional mobile devices that carry voice, video and data have created new opportunities for training and education, work organization and mobilization, the practical management of daily life (teleworking and virtual companies) and social interaction and relationships. This has led some to suggest that we are entering a new social epoch, an information society where knowledge and understanding are replacing traditional material resources such as fossil fuels and steam power.

This is an important issue for information professionals to consider because the implications of this change are far-reaching and could impact their existing roles in libraries, archives, records and museums. The Facebook Files, a series of articles published in the Wall Street Journal based on hundreds of pages of leaked documents from inside Facebook, highlights many of these issues.

Why do people use it?

Billions of people use facebook to stay in touch with friends. It has also revolutionised how we organise demonstrations and direct action. A famous example is the coronavirus pandemic, when millions stayed in touch via facebook groups and fb messages.

Some research suggests that the intensity of a person’s FB use is correlated with their bonding social capital and with their capacity to mobilise others for activism. But this is a complex picture, with a host of other factors involved. For example, one study found that heavier FB users tended to score higher in neuroticism, sociability and extraversion, but lower in conscientiousness and “need for cognition”.

Another interesting finding is that using FB to find information may activate latent ties into weak ties – it’s easy to find people who share your interests and who can provide assistance with tasks that require specific knowledge or skills. This is a form of bridging social capital, and may also lead to more tolerant perspectives.

What is the future of it?

The Information Society is a socio-cultural arrangement in which the creation, delivery, use and manipulation of information becomes a primary economic activity. People who participate in this new society are known as digital citizens. This arrangement also has other social and cultural implications.

Some people, such as Antonio Negri, characterize this society as one in which immaterial labour is the main form of production. They suggest that this means that only a few creative individuals are needed to produce culture or entertainment, leaving everyone else to do other jobs such as administration and service provision.

In this context, it’s worth considering the impact of the Facebook Files, a series of stories that detailed the ways in which Facebook’s internal machinations affect its users. It’s easy to see how this kind of exposure could lead to significant changes in the way that technology companies operate. This may mean that the Internet as we know it will look different in a few years time.

What are the dangers?

A Facebook shutdown would harm a wide range of stakeholders, from individuals with their own profiles and pages to communities that depend on the platform for their daily communications and social interactions. This group includes journalists, researchers, and activists who rely on the platform to spread their content.

The platform is also a repository for digital cultural heritage. As a result, its shutdown could threaten the control and appraisal of our shared online history (Ohman and Watson, 2019).

In the past, evidence that could implicate core Facebook features or systems has often been brushed aside by top executives. For example, in 2018, it emerged that a team within Facebook had found that Instagram (which Facebook owns) exacerbates poor self-image and mental health in teenage girls, but this finding was never publicised for fear of political fallout.

Furthermore, Facebook has struggled to implement and maintain its policies on content moderation. For example, it has been reported that workers who review content for the platform are paid above industry standard and receive 80 hours of training, but they still report being emotionally harmed by their work.

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