Mel's Reviews > The Information Society

The Information Society by Robert Hassan
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's review
Jul 24, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: 21st-century-non-fiction, library
Read in March, 2010

This book was infinitely better than Feather's book of the same title. This book was written by a sociologist, not a librarian, and Hassan is clearly someone who has a much better grasp of sociology, history and economics. He included lots of references and outlined the major theorists in the field, and their differing views. The book was a good overview of how society has changed, and the impact of computers and technology on society. The book gave a good history of the development of the web in the 90s and the forces (companies and people) behind that. Before looking at how the web is commercialised and how this had led to a commodification of life in general. I really appreciated this as I've been thinking for ages now that the so called "web 2.0" revolution is really just a corporate-ising of the web. Instead of people having their own web page, they just have an account on twitter or facebook, and loose autonomy. Hassan also addressed the issue of globalisation and the impact on politics and activism from the web. He tried to create a balanced picture, presenting both negative and positive aspects of the changing face of society. Underlying all his arguments was the idea of "neolibralism" a concept I'd not come across before, which seemed to be a free market capitalism for every aspect of life. The only part I found myself disagreeing with him was when he talked about the psychological damage of the information society, where people were experiencing a higher level of anxiety than before. He quoted someone who defined social anxiety disorder as "being shy" which I have to say I think is absolute rubbish, as there's a lot more to it than that. However, it was interesting to see from the sociologist point of view that the problem of information overload needing a societal fix, rather than an individual one. I think this book will come in very useful when it's time to do my dissertation. p. 103 Chomsky quote about the commodification of the web and "digital capitalism p. 129 He talked about China and its economy and how it is growing and providing much of the consumables for the US. (Largest single supplier of high tech goods to the US) p. 136-137 commodification and colonization p. 174-175 anxiety and victorian with physcological disorders p. 183 Computer games more mainstream than hollywood movies, no matter what gen xers think. p. 188 when compared with other technological change, says you can't because it's totally different.

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