Liam's Reviews > The Social Life of Information

The Social Life of Information by John Seely Brown
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's review
Jan 25, 2011

really liked it

"The ends of information, after all, are human ends. The logic of information must ultimately be the logic of humanity. For all information's independence and extent, it is people, in their communities, organizations, and institutions, who ultimately decide what it all means and why it matters." (18)

"[W]e tend to think of knowledge less like an assembly of discrete parts and more like a watercolor painting. As each new color is added, it blends with the others to produce the final effect, in which contributing parts become indivisible." (106)

"Information, all these arguments suggest, is on its own not enough to produce actionable knowledge. Practice too is required. And for practice, it's best to look to a community of practitioners." (135)

"The degree provides a public front of respectability. Behind its broad facade, students and faculty undertake many activities that society directly values. The broad facade also includes some activities that may be socially valuable but are not easily valued in the market. The ability of the degree to shelter these activities from close scrutiny, immediate justification, and micromanagement helps provide society with more diverse and versatile candidates than it knows to ask for. If every detail of a student's learning were held to public account, a lot of valuable experimentation and improvisation would probably disappear." (217)

"[A] tunnel-like focus on information, self-evident and free of context, remains too loyal to the digital presumption of a binary world. So it takes, for example, the useful clues involved in restraining information as merely clutter -- the husk to be discarded rather than deployed." (244)

"To play with boundaries -- of firms, networks, communities, regions, and institutions -- as innovation increasingly seems to demand, requires first acknowledging them." (252)

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