Societatea Informationala Thursday, Sep 18 2008 

Societatea informaţională este societatea în care producerea şi consumul de informaţie este cel mai important tip de activitate. Informaţia este recunoscută drept resursă principală, tehnologiile informaţiei şi comunicaţiilor sunt tehnologii de bază, iar mediul informaţional, împreună cu cel social şi cel ecologic – un mediu de existenţă a omului.

Dimensiunile societăţii informaţionale şi a cunoasterii (SIC)

  • Socială – se aplică asupra îngrijirii sănătăţii şi protecţiei sociale, democracraţiei sociale. (telemedicina, teleactivităţi, telelucru, telealegeri,teleasigurare, etc.).
  • Educaţională – dezvoltă competenţa de concepţie şi de lucru în regim informatizat, gestionarea intelegentă a proceselor (educaţie şi învăţămînt la distanţă, biblioteci virtuale,e-Teaching,e-Learning).
  • Ambientală – care are impact asupra utilizării resurselor şi protecţiei mediului înconjurător.
  • Culturală – care are impact asupra conservării şi dezvoltării patrimoniului, dezvoltării industriei (muzee, galerii de arta pe internet,digitizarea informatiei:manuale digitizate,digitizarea patrimoniului national si international).
  • Economică – care dezvoltă noi paradigme ale economiei digitale şi ale economiei bazată pe cunoaştere (e-Comerţ, e-Banking, e-Learning,e-Money,e-Trading,achitare pe internet,afacere pe internet, etc.).
  • Dimensiuni ale S.I.
  • Tehnologică – infrastructură, servicii, aplicaţii
  • Economică – noua economie digitală
  • Politico– administrativă – guvernare electronică
  • Socială – calitatea vieţii
  • Culturală – interacţiunea cultură-tehnologie
  • Juridică – legislaţie specifică

You are reading this page on the Internet. You may also have a digital camera, a mobile phone, an MP3 player. These are all “information society” products, made possible by the convergence of computer, telecommunications and media sciences. In just one generation, information and communications technologies (ICTs) have revolutionised the way we live, learn, work and play. They have radically recast the ways in which people, industry, governments and society interact.

Information society is seen as the successor to industrial society. losely related concepts are the post-industrial society (Daniel Bell), post-fordism, post-modern society, knowledge society, Telematic Society, Information Revolution, and network society (Manuel Castells).

One of the first people to develop the concept of the information society was the economist Fritz Machlup. He was notable for being one of the first economists to examine knowledge as an economic resource. Machlup’s key work was The Production and Distribution of Knowledge in the United States (1962), which is credited with popularizing the concept of the information society. Shortly before his death he completed the third in a series of ten planned volumes collectively called Knowledge: Its Creation, Distribution, and Economic Significance. He distinguished five sectors of the knowledge sector: education, research and development, mass media, information technologies, information services.

Peter Drucker has argued that there is a transition from an economy based on material goods to one based on knowledge. In 1959, Drucker coined the term “knowledge worker. Drucker was interested in the growing effect of people who worked with their minds rather than their hands. He was intrigued by employees who knew more about certain subjects than their bosses or colleagues and yet had to cooperate with others in a large organization.

Marc Porat distinguishes a primary (information goods and services that are directly used in the production, distribution or processing of information) and a secondary sector (information services produced for internal consumption by government and non-information firms) of the information economy. Porat uses the total value added by the primary and secondary information sector to the GNP as an indicator for the information economy. The OECD has employed Porat’s definition for calculating the share of the information economy in the total economy (e.g. OECD 1981, 1986). Based on such indicators the information society has been defined as a society where more than half of the GNP is produced and more than half of the employees are active in the information economy.

For Daniel Bell the number of employees producing services and information is an indicator for the informational character of a society. What counts is not raw muscle power, or energy, but information. Bell outlined a new kind of society – the post-industrial society. He argued that post-industrialism would be information-led and service-oriented. Bell also argued that the post-industrial society would replace the industrial society as the dominant system. There are three components to a post-industrial society, according to Bell:

  • a shift from manufacturing to services
  • the centrality of the new science-based industries
  • the rise of new technical elites and the advent of a new principle of stratification

Alain Touraine (the originator of the term “post-industrial society”), already spoke in 1971 of the post-industrial society.

“The passage to postindustrial society takes place when investment results in the production of symbolic goods that modify values, needs, representations, far more than in the production of material goods or even of ‘services’. Industrial society had transformed the means of production: post-industrial society changes the ends of production, that is, culture. (…) The decisive point here is that in postindustrial society all of the economic system is the object of intervention of society upon itself. That is why we can call it the programmed society, because this phrase captures its capacity to create models of management, production, organization, distribution, and consumption, so that such a society appears, at all its functional levels, as the product of an action exercised by the society itself, and not as the outcome of natural laws or cultural specificities” (Touraine 1988: 104)

Jean-François Lyotard (well-known for his articulation of postmodernism after the late 1970s and the analysis of the impact of postmodernity on the human condition.)

Lyotard has argued that “knowledge has become the principle force of production over the last few decades“. Knowledge would be transformed into a commodity. Lyotard says that postindustrial society makes knowledge accessible to the layman because knowledge and information technologies would diffuse into society and break up Grand Narratives of centralized structures and groups. Lyotard denotes these changing circumstances as postmodern condition or postmodern society.

Radovan Richta coined the term technological evolution, a theory about society’s replacement of physical labour with mental labour.

Richta (1977) argues that society has been transformed into a scientific civilization based on services, education, and creative activities. This transformation would be the result of a scientific-technological transformation based on technological progress and the increasing importance of computer technology. Science and technology would become immediate forces of production.

Nico Stehr (1994, 2002a, b) says that in the knowledge society a majority of jobs involves working with knowledge. “Contemporary society may be described as a knowledge society based on the extensive penetration of all its spheres of life and institutions by scientific and technological knowledge” (Stehr 2002b: 18).

For Stehr knowledge is a capacity for social action. Science would become an immediate productive force, knowledge would no longer be primarily embodied in machines, but already appropriated nature that represents knowledge would be rearranged according to certain designs and programs (Ibid.: 41-46). For Stehr the economy of a knowledge society is largely driven not by material inputs, but by symbolic or knowledge-based inputs (Ibid.: 67), there would be a large number of professions that involve working with knowledge, and a declining number of jobs that demand low cognitive skills as well as in manufacturing (Stehr 2002a).

Also Alvin Toffler argues that knowledge is the central resource in the economy of the information society: “In a Third Wave economy, the central resource – a single word broadly encompassing data, information, images, symbols, culture, ideology, and values – is actionable knowledge“ (Dyson/Gilder/Keyworth/Toffler 1994).

Source :


Europe’s Information Society

SUSAN CRAWFORD,The Origin and Development of a Concept: The Information Society*

Your memory is running low Tuesday, Sep 16 2008 

According to recent research, we are remembering fewer and fewer basic facts these days.

“Neuroscientist Ian Robertson polled 3,000 people and found that the younger ones were less able than their elders to recall standard personal info. When Robertson asked his subjects to tell them a relative’s birth date, 87 percent of respondents over age 50 could recite it, while less than 40 percent of those under 30 could do so. And when he asked them their own phone number, fully one-third of the youngsters drew a blank. They had to whip out their handsets to look it up. That reflexive gesture — reaching into your pocket for the answer — tells the story in a nutshell. Younger Americans today are the first generation to grow up with go-everywhere gadgets and services that exist specifically to remember things so that we don’t have to: BlackBerrys, phones, thumb drives, Gmail.” (Clive Thompson)

We give up making an effort to remember information that can be retrieve online, by simply using a search engine.

“My point is that the cyborg future is here. Almost without noticing it, we’ve outsourced important peripheral brain functions to the silicon around us.

And frankly, I kind of like it. I feel much smarter when I’m using the Internet as a mental plug-in during my daily chitchat. Say you mention the movie Once: I’ve never seen it, but in 10 seconds I’ll have reviewed a summary of the plot, the actors, and its cultural impact. Machine memory even changes the way I communicate, because I continually stud my IMs with links, essentially impregnating my very words with extra intelligence.” You could argue that by offloading data onto silicon, we free our own gray matter for more germanely “human” tasks like brainstorming and daydreaming. What’s more, the perfect recall of silicon memory can be an enormous boon to thinking. For example, I’ve been blogging for four years, which means I’ve poured out about a million words’ worth of my thoughts online. This regularly produces the surreal and delightful experience of Googling a topic only to unearth an old post that I don’t even remember writing. The machine helps me rediscover things I’d forgotten I knew — it’s what author Cory Doctorow refers to as an “outboard brain.”(Clive Thompson)

“I consume, digest, and excrete information for a living. Whether I’m writing science fiction, editorials, columns, or tech books, whether I’m speaking from a podium or yammering down the phone at some poor reporter, my success depends on my ability to cite and connect disparate factoids at just the right moment.” (Cory Doctorow)

Could one be a veritable genius when on the grid and mentally crippled when not? Could an to much reliance on the “virtual memory” the Internet is offering shut down other important ways of understanding the world?

There’s another type of intelligence that comes not from rapid-fire pattern recognition but from slowly ingesting and retaining a lifetime’s worth of facts. You read about the discoveries of Madame Curie and the history of the countries bordering Iraq. You read War and Peace. Then you let it all ferment in the back of your mind for decades, until, bang, it suddenly coalesces into a brilliant insight. (If Afghanistan had stores of uranium, the Russians would’ve discovered nuclear energy before 1917!) We’ve come to think of human intelligence as being like an Intel processor, able to quickly analyze data and spot patterns. Maybe there’s just as much value in the ability to marinate in the seemingly trivial.

Of course, it’s probably not an either/or proposition. I want both: I want my organic brain to contain vast stores of knowledge and my silicon overmind to contain a stupidly huge amount more. (Clive Thompson)

Source: Wired

Encyclopédie Tuesday, Sep 16 2008 

Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers was published in France between 1751 and 1772, with later supplements and revisions in 1772, 1777 and 1780 and numerous foreign editions and later derivatives.

Denis Diderot (October 5, 1713 – July 31, 1784), a French philosopher and writer during the Enlightenment, had a major contribution to  the Encyclopédie and to Enlightenment.

Its introduction, the Preliminary Discourse, is considered an important exposition of Enlightenment ideas. The Encyclopédie’s self-professed aim was “to change the way people think.” It was hoped that the work would eventually encompass all of human knowledge; Denis Diderot explained the goal of the project as “All things must be examined, debated, investigated without exception and without regard for anyone’s feelings.”

The work comprised 35 volumes, with 71,818 articles, and 3,129 illustrations.

The writers of the encyclopedia saw it as a vehicle to covertly destroy superstitions while overtly providing access to human knowledge. It was a summary of thought and belief of the Enlightenment. In ancien régime France it caused a storm of controversy, due mostly to its tone of religious tolerance. The encyclopedia praised Protestant thinkers and challenged Catholic dogma, and classified religion as a branch of philosophy, not as the ultimate source of knowledge and moral advice.

The entire work was banned by royal decree and officially closed down after the first seven volumes in 1759 but because it had many highly placed supporters, notably Madame de Pompadour, work continued “in secret”. In truth, secular authorities did not want to disrupt the commercial enterprise which employed hundreds of people. To appease the church’s enemies of the project, the authorities had officially banned the enterprise, but they turned a blind eye to its continued existence.

It was also a vast compendium of the technologies of the period, describing the traditional craft tools and processes. Much information was taken from the Descriptions des Arts et Métiers.

The Encyclopédie played an important role in the intellectual ferment leading to the French Revolution. It created the auspicious climate.”No encyclopaedia perhaps has been of such political importance, or has occupied so conspicuous a place in the civil and literary history of its century. It sought not only to give information, but to guide opinion,” wrote the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica.

This work was very unorthodox and had many forward thinking ideas for the time. Diderot stated within this work, “An encyclopedia ought to make good the failure to execute such a project hitherto, and should encompass not only the fields already covered by the academies, but each and every branch of human knowledge.” Upon encompassing every branch of knowledge this will give, “the power to change men’s common way of thinking.” This idea was profound and intriguing, as it was one of the first works during the Enlightenment. Diderot wanted to give all people the ability to further their knowledge and, in a sense, allow every person to have any knowledge they sought of the world. The work sought to bring together all knowledge of the time and condense this information for all to use. Using not only the expertise of scholars and Academies in their respective fields but that of the common man in their proficiencies in their trades. These people would amalgamate and work under a society to perform such a project. They would work alone in order to shed societal conformities, and build a multitude of information on a desired subject with varying view points, methods, or philosophies. He emphasized the vast abundance of knowledge held within each subject with intricacies and details to provide the greatest amount of knowledge to be gained from the subject. All people would benefit from these insights into different subjects as a means of betterment; bettering society as a whole and individuals alike.

This message under the Ancien Régime would severely dilute the regime’s ability to control the people. Knowledge and power, two key items the upper class held over the lower class, were in jeopardy as knowledge would be more accessible, giving way to more power amongst the lower class. An encyclopedia would give the layman an ability to reason and use knowledge to better themselves; allowing for upward mobility and increased intellectual abundance amongst the lower class. A growth of knowledge amongst this segment of society would provide power to this group and a yearning to question the government. The numerated subjects in the folios were not just for the good of the people and society, but were for the promotion of the state as well. The state did not see any benefit in the works, instead viewing them as a contempt to contrive power and authority from the state.

The Encyclopedie on BBC 4

Source: Wikipedia

Different view Thursday, Sep 11 2008 

Under the sky. No thoughts in my mind, no desire for nothing else but to live the instant, no such things as eagerness, but only vivid dreams.

Laying on a comfy chaise longue on the deck atop Amesterdam’s NEMO Science Museum, bathing my right hand on the flowing water that was sliding next to me, having in front of my eyes the stunning view over a large part of the city, enjoying the best weather ever and just sitting there numbness and dumbness… all this made me feel more real than I ever felt before.

“It seems to me, Antiphon, that you identify happiness with luxury and extravagance; but I have always thought that to need nothing is divine, and to need as little as possible is the nearest approach to the divine; and that what is divine is best, and what is nearest to the divine is the next best.” (Memorabilia, I 6)

Luxury is a question of location.

We’re lost, therefore we shall go on Thursday, Sep 11 2008 

In order to prevent seeing ourselves wandering the streets lost we took maps and even a GPS. Everything was planned and assessed.

Everything will be just fine and we will manage to visit every place we have planned…

In fact, everything went just fine, we weren’t able to visit everything we wished and most of the time we got lost. The fun part of that was that it was almost impossible to get angry or frustrated and I came to realize that the best part of getting lost was the possibility of changing the plans and living the moment, not the planned moment.

But we weren’t the only ones getting lost in Amsterdam. Most of the tourists are. It’s hard to spot them on your first days there, since your primary concern is to locate yourself on the map.

It was on the last days there that we passed by a couple of French girls staring at a map, having the ” where the fuck are we” look on their faces. One of them concluded ” On est perdu. Allons-y!”.

The first wandering days are the best.

It’s all about the frame, dude Wednesday, Sep 10 2008 

The Van Gogh Museum was, by far, the highest point of the journey. They managed to gather there not only almost all that Van Gogh has ever draw on a piece of anything, but, also, all things related to him – paintings of him made by others, like Gaugain, paintings of artists he appreciate or had a close relation to… in short.. all that can be associated with the great master of “pointillé”.

His painting left me breathless and, if it weren’t for the big crowd of english and american art devours coming down from their large buses, I would have stayed there the whole day. It was one of them, a young stoner, I overheard explaining to one of his mates the greatness of Van Gogh art: ” It’s all about the frame, dude”.

6th of August 2008, Amsterdam