The Information Society by Christoper May
Polity Press, Malden, Massachusetts
(Consequences of ICTs)
Digital divide, data theft, loss of privacy, increase of surveillance,
Luddites were correct in their immediate analysis of the impacts of technology despite the long term-benefits of advances in the textile industry.
** What were the immediate impacts ?? What did the Luddites do ?? How was the textile industry important to the Information Age ??
(Authoritarian and Democratic Technics)
Mumford: Father of the study of the history of technology Technological Determinism: Danger of allowing society to be controlled by technology rather than democratically shaping its path.
Technics: Crossover between technology and society. Authority uses technology to centralize power but technologies can empower resistance against authoritarian power; Democratic Technics.
First Wave, Egypt, Rome
Starts with pyramid builders in Egypt, collecting labor, they utilized communication, writing, math to collect and control labor as well as engineering the structures. Could only support technology in urban areas, since control was dependant on fragile communication. Failed communication collapses empires and authority ceases. Barbarians
initiated Democratic Technics by allowing localized societies free from centralized authority, service and tribute. Evolved through the dark ages to the nation/state, a more resilient social structure.
Enlightenment and scientific revolution promise democratic societies but fail when authority implements the tools (weapons) of technology to re-centralize power, industry and the military.
No longer sovereign location of power, the control systems self-actualize authority. Power is no longer locatable and attempts at democratic change are diffused for lack of focus while the system generally provides the majority an
abundance of material goods further diffusing a need for social growth. If the needs and wants of the population are failed by the supply system, the population challenges the systems.
Self-discovery, changing process of the individual (self actualization, healing) undermines authority when the systems fail or fail to satisfy more human needs. Supply by the system is a bribe that undermines individual growth and social
**Authority only fails when it fails to supply the needs and luxuries of the population?
Democratic is localized, it has low organizational needs
Authoritarian: centralized which allows ambivilance to local needs, and it has the overhead of distant between organizational nodes
Democratic productivity fulfills needs, allowing the luxury of leisure time for creativity,
Authoritarian productivity defines work for work's sake (work: factory rather than community ethic?)
When technology is beneficial, it incorporates all the person, not just (some of) the muscles. Effect of technology is simply in how it is applied, it has no character itself. (Luddites were wrong)
Passivity in the face of technology is pointless since the Authoritarian Technic self-actualizes.
The piracy of MP3s represent a reassertion of the Democratic Technic, is sharing the crime of stealing??
For capitalism to exist, there must be capital and capitalists. Capitalism consists of finance, the means of production, land and the relationship between property holders and laborers.
**Added to these properties is intellectual property, only suddenly a big issue with respect to the information society. New patenting laws create a system patent lawyers of 50 years ago would not have recognized.
Stephen Marglin: division of labor results from a need to hide appropriated surplus by claiming only they can organize complex processes. The workforce is controlled with the division of labor and the bigger picture is hidden from labor
by limiting workers to specific tasks and by periodically recycling them into the market (especially as soon as they openly identify w/ the Democratic Technic, which was a prerequisite for the new-economy).
Companies wish to separate workers from their skills by identifying skills as intellectual property (ATT/SCO) and returning workers to the market pool of the unemployed.
Information and processes are commodified by government representatives influenced by lobbyists to create increasingly cryptic copyright and patenting law. Universalization (Wood, 1997) is the self-actualizing tendency of capitalism to impose it's own logic on more and more aspects of life. (Time is money even within leisure)
But who is doing this ?? What unwritten conspiracy is behind this process. How do managers communicate this philosophy to underlings, without being detected. How is the market corruption passed from generation to generation
without the knowledge of the population. Is there a different kind of person who naturally imposes these capitalistic conditions. An authoritarian gene (flaw) perhaps ??
(Contracting vs. Full-time Employment)
Knowledge work will move towards the Hollywood project-based economy as workers become more creative
** Contracting, free of parasitic problems w/in corporations, able to provide for own services without overhead of go-betweens, work in comfort of home and have flexibility to retain position through various employers. Person attains corporate status giving considerable tax advantages.
** Lacking purchasing leverage of corporations, at mercy of service suppliers, not as influential within corporations and vulnerable to competitive slander, much more easily dismiss-able, as every information technology contract includes any "cause" to terminate contract. Workers often feel guilty for being at home causing harder work, no health related breaks. Typical jobs, data entry or directory inquiries, not ideal jobs. Labor is truly divided and unable to achieve collective bargaining.
(Automation Creates New Jobs)
EU: New jobs will offset jobs lost through automation (and job export?)
Rights to privacy are suspended as companies have access to data passing through their systems.
Indirectly, behavior may be analyzed by software designed personality profiles based on all collectable data, such as absences, resulting in arbitrary dismissals.
The Hollywood model brings back all the problems of early capitalism; short-term hiring, lockouts, no worker's rights, and cyclic lay-offs. (de-centralization of workers prevents labor union formation)
** Technology workers, especially in finances, universally opposed to united labor.
Corporations are quickly claiming knowledge that has been freely available just as the landowning aristocracy laid claim to common lands during the growth of intensive farming.
** See appendix I
** GNU strategy of copy-lefting
Companies force contractors into a relation with owners by owning (patenting, copyrighting) the means of production. All the advantages of the Information Society are lost, as innovation and creativity are the sole domain of organizations best known for control, exploitation and uneven distribution of profits.
** Forces piracy, criminal activity to maintain individuality
Skills workers have developed as a result of the tasks they performed for their contract holder or employer is rendered the property of the employer.
Creative contracts can include the transfer of property rights from artist to company simply because the artist will never have the means to reach audiences.
Even government fees for patenting prevent creators from owning processes.
**Sue them to death -- definition of individual and company as same thing
Taylor's codification of the workshop floor Taborsky put on chain gang for "stealing" technology he developed in parallel to work he was doing while contracted by University of South Florida. Utility owned all output and brought criminal charges against inventor.
** Loss of differentiation between civil and criminal crime
(Loss of Unionization)
Simply the threat of relocation to lower cost areas is enough to get concessions from labor. The promise of re-employment by the service economy has given slipped to lower cost countries.
** These countries are supplying service to the host nations, causing a further deficit and are not developing business that they can depend on.
** Developing nations complain about brain drain while absorbing jobs through globalization. Calling for global unionization while helping multinational corporations break first world unions. The solution is to bring all the worlds nations up
to the same standards with nominally equal rates of exchange rather than bleeding one to support another for any reason.
(Online Society / Internet Communities)
Technology has the most profound effect when it alters the way people come together and communicate. Online communities meet any reasonable definition of community. They offer improvements in organization and communication over the traditional community. In particular, anti-globalization and environmentalism have organized exclusively through the net and in at least one case it has enabled local revolution, the Zapatistas.
These communities define the Democratic Technic and they will probably never be co-opted by authoritarian rule, breaking the historical cycle of the Technic. In fact, they all seem to be organized specifically to defy centralized
They entirely consist of the minds of the members and operate at negligible cost. More traditional communities exist based on where we live or work, our class or race and the existing hierarchy tends to be self-succeeding.
Very few identify exclusively with one community, but they may define themselves with their own web presence, through web pages, web logs or by developing communities based on their own personality. Nobody will stop them,
and, usually, if they are interesting in some way, they will develop a following, which it will remain individualistic. Taken for granted today, these new possibilities for independent and group expression are unique in the history of human society.
Achieving online life also requires a personal motivation, passive followers probably won't find themselves online very much.
E-mutual communities will resist any kind of greed that typifies corporate acquisition protecting itself from the kind of information absorption that threatens fair competition in the free market economy.
Zapatista revolution, globalization and the MAI in Seattle, examples of revolutionary actions that completely depended on ICTs for global validation and coordinated organization.
Technology itself has no leaning and democracy will not spring forward from it, but the new Information Society has advanced multiple factors over previous forms communication technology in that it is not just two-way in nature, but
communicates over a matrix defined by the numbers of users, which are presently in the hundreds of millions.
In a typical online community, exclusion is rare though it may be difficult to gain credibility with the other members. Exclusive lists lack the dynamics to draw members and generally die. Many people, or even most, may choose not to
participate in the global dialog, but the Information Society now defines democracy better than any previous system because anybody, literally, has their say, and others will no doubt be exposed to it, even if by accident.
Existing studies of Internet communities have been limited to mailing lists and the UseNet. Web logging and software specifically designed to support and analyze complex topic and thread based communication will be invented to make
all the users experiences more meaningful.
The only entry fee is access, which at 20 cents per minute at Kinko's is still expensive.
The most remarkable product of the Internet is the Linux OS, a student project that has grown into Microsoft's biggest nightmare. If Gore had one and Congress persuade the anti-trust allegations against Microsoft, their operating
system and office software divisions would have been split. Microsoft Office would have be ported to Linux and NT would have died on the vine. In fact, early on, Microsoft considered abandoning NT (which has evolved into XP and
The primary advantages to software created by e-mutualists are that anyone can use the code and develop from it. So find achievement in dissecting the software to for weaknesses, publishing their findings along with the solutions.
The weakness become common knowledge and the aware technicians apply the fixes. The rest may or may not suffer the consequences of laziness, but everything is out in the open and the solutions are provided free of cost.
By comparison, knowledge of the inner workings of Microsoft software is not just a civil violation but also a federal felony, making individual protection of a system you own a crime in of itself. Users must wait for fixes, which are
provided at Microsoft's leisure. For this reason, the vast majority of security breaches are with Microsoft systems, since profit figures into every action they take.
A recent modification to the most popular e-mutualist code compiler, the GCC, has halted the most common form of weakness in public software, which is called stack smashing. Another software giant, IBM, which has embraced the Linux OS, has provided the most recent fix of this type.
The open software model is simple. The builders hope not to charge for the software but for its implementation. Initial creation is only a small part of the software economy, distribution, testing, configuration and customization are necessary just to get started. Then companies are faced with the expense of their own development. Open software technologists are highly available and are able to train each other on freely downloaded software systems making them
more competitive in comparison with proprietary solutions. Nonetheless, the free software model is the antithesis of the capitalistic and authoritarian models. Recently, in typical capitalist maneuvering, a failed Linux company acquired the Unix licenses initially copyrighted by ATT. ATT had a decade before alleged that any person having been influenced by Unix owed their knowledge to ATT and therefore ATT owned considerable portions of their
minds. At the time, it seemed laughable and ATT wisely sold their licenses to disable the legal departments. Novell briefly owned the licenses, which was unable to create usable Unix products. Eventually they wound up with Caldera/SCO, also unable to provide competitive software products, they are now resorting to the same predatory tactics. Somehow, a decade later, the threat seems more real. In Europe the EU parliament has supported the open model and hopes to fine Microsoft for anti competitive practices, but another sector, the EU commission has go the opposite direction, and is creating a model where every single software component is, by law, owned and for which royalties have to be paid. Since even simple systems consist of thousands if not millions of individual components smaller corporations and individual developers and instantly eliminated from the software market.
(Repressive copyright laws)
Photocopying newspaper articles, sharing books and making cassette tapes from recordings has never been illegal and didn't pose any kind of threat to publishers and music labels. The invention of the MP3 music compression format
changed that by enabling the efficient transmission of music over the Internet. Two college students formed the Napster file sharing service and the rest is familiar history. The record industry claims losses of 10 percent of its revenue and the numbers of users sharing files could be a significant percentage of the online population. The public software community has entered the arena by producing libraries for a system, which uses no central services. Instead a matrix of users is formed providing no single target for the industry to pursue as they did with Napster. Instead it would have to sue millions of users, in courts where judges no doubt have themselves family members who have been sharing files.
Besides the RIAA, two active voices against file sharing have been the band Metallica and the singer Neil Young. Having been a fan of both, I was surprised at their enforcement stances because both have developed their followings as being voices of the counter culture. These particular musicians are successful and wealthy and probably do not literally feel any pain as a result of the sharing of their songs. Most other musicians and, in particular less wealthy ones, either are not too concerned about these copyright infringements or wholly support file sharing. New musicians see file sharing as the only way they can get the exposure necessary to succeed as other channels to the market are controlled by the recording industry in the style of the robber barons on the Danube.
The music industry has a history of excesses, best illustrated recently on television, by rap stars dumping bottles of Crystal Champagne on the floor to demonstrate their rises from poverty to wealth. Despite decades of extreme and
hypocritical examples of waste sometimes even resulting in death by the music industry in this way, the legal system feels morally obligated to protect the industry on the principles of the law. Suddenly copyright infringement becomes
more aligned with an economic and moral stabilizing effort which supported, by a vast number of Americans by breaking these laws. This effort would be characterized as typical of "Democratic Technic" rebellions against the
Digging deeper into the realities of the music industry one increasing has to wonder if there is any benefit to music itself by the industry. I find it doubtful, that in a country of two to three hundred million, there would be only such a small percentage of musical talent as represented on the radio. Musicians have always been activist and one of the most popular genres of music today on the radio grew from the political upheaval of the sixties, more recently however, a very rich singing group known as the Dixie Chicks met their demise by questioning the recent presidential decision to hurry into Iraq, a move questioned by many Americans. The group was banned by a large radio conglomeration and lost popularity and was boo-ed on stage as being traitors against the nation.
(MP3 sharing, global de-centralized model defined by rebellion against Internet copyrights)
The technology itself, is now considered the future of computing, allowing computer nodes to support each other without necessarily relying on central servers. The MP3 crisis is unique in that is embraces legal, moral, economic
and technical issues that may in the end revert the entire Information Society to a democratic de-centralized control model where the entire globe is the matrix but globalize is irrelevant.
If information control is decentralized, then what do centralized organizations process beyond the technology of control, meaning weapon systems, without any profitable use for them.
(Psychological profiles derived by trusted systems)
Statistical collection of the types of information viewed by paying customers (or authenticated users) allows information publishers to create a profile, which can be used to create a presumption of guilt based on a guessed-at psychological analysis.
(Government and Internet)
States and government increases with use of the Internet. Only way to keep the old patterns in the face of new technology is to use government regulation of small companies and the average person. They have done this historically to protect class divisions.
Internet distributes power seeming to decentralize it, but power has long been diffused by the Authoritarian Technic by creating vast and spread out control structures.
National borders are breached by the use of corporations' networks. Markets are setting rules and governments can resist them only as much as the seek to lose corporate controlled capital, technology, jobs and the ability to balance trade budgets.
Gates: governments can help determine the rules of the road, the guidelines within which companies compete but they shouldn't try to design or dictated the nature of the network because governments aren't very good at out guessing the
competitive market place", in other words the market place should dictate how we live.
(Role of Government)
If government cannot protect us from control from the few corporations left to compete, or if they totally lose control allowing single corporation domination, as they have with Microsoft proving unable to protect the citizens
economically, why should their citizens protect them politically. Both corporations and governments can soften in their means of operation. Traditionally only the most driven individuals will develop necessary innovations to keep markets competitive and those controlling the markets may choose to ignore and therefore marginalize them. Unless government can be persuaded to keep these technologies from self actualizing in their own shops then there is a strong possibility they may ultimately replace the existing ICTs and their supporting corporations. If ICTs become cheap simple and cheap enough not to require capital investment to sponsor manufacturing then centralized capital becomes meaningless with respect to information. Industries completely dependent on information, such as medicine, would become threatened by independent development and the more physical markets may suffer from innovations in material production and enhanced morality based on democratic communication.
(Corporations dependant on government)
Without the regulative control of government and the automated behavior of soldiers, tradition market corporations may collapse under their own weight; the only way they can save themselves would be to increase the pressure on
government representatives away from democratic representation and towards lobbyist control, the selection process would have to go away from democratic elections and towards behavioral control through the media and corrupted
electoral decisions in the courts. It is known that the majority of the people did not elect the present president and it is said that he was not even elected in the state of Florida where he ultimately was granted the powers of state. Today the president's party struggles to redistrict localities to attempt to lock in long-term power in a process known as gerrymandering.
Libertarians see the role of the state as the protection of property rights.
(WTO position on government in emerging nations)
Government should only protect property and contract law
Richard Posner: Legal reform is an important part of the modernization of poor countries, but the focus should be on creating rules of contract and property rather judiciary or civil liberties. -- Protect those who have and allow them
full control by minimalizing justice and eliminating the needs of the greater population. What possible motive for this form of "liberalization" and the enhancement of "free" markets except possibly global suicide through the uncontrolled spread of disease caused by poverty and the neglect of the mass of the population.
Finnish first true Information Society, creator of Linux -- not substantial in of itself, obsolete before it was created, but its Finnish origin was all that it needed to become the biggest threat the world's most powerful corporation has.
One million PCs go to landfills every year; no computer is obsolete except for power usage.
example: old laptops 1/10th of cost of 1/100th power - reverse of Moore's law.
(Tech One and Tech Two)
Tech one uses technology to enhance existing process, Tech two creates process that were unimaginable before the new global matrix. Problem is when corporations label tech one as tech two preventing tech two from receiving the necessary
Increased communication called tech two but isn't, its just an increase over the phone, a better tech two is the creation of vastly new technology, biotech or even better, revolutionary economic matrixes where all technology is accelerated through e-mutualism.
(Information bubble linked to oil prices)
The Information Society is perceived as something new to which older analyses are invalid.. Bit if the Information Society is capitalistic then it makes sense to apply older criticisms to understand it, after looking at the recent tech crash, we have to admit that older rules still apply. The rising oil prices of the turn of the millennium indicates that the deployment of ICTs may have less to do with the new economy than the sudden change in the price of oil after the historically low prices during the nineties.
**This follows the concept that surplus energy creates Renaissance, as the canals and windmills of Holland allowed the planting of tulips rather than food (Mumford)