FROM INFORMATION HIGHWAYS
TO AN INFORMATION SOCIETY
Society is in the midst of an accelerating,
techno-mediated transformation. The internetworking of global
and local populations, and the digital convergence of phone,
television and computer systems is occurring with such momentum,
that the larger social context and implications for these changes
is easily being lost. Our futures are, however, at stake. The
evolutionary processes inherent in our becoming an increasingly
communication and technology generating and consuming society,
are a complex but critically important matter.
Information Ecology refers to the consideration
and better understanding of information theory, telecommunications
systems development, human perception and cognition, within the
larger context of ecological systems and of our relationship
to the surrounding environment. We are learning to tread more
carefully in our physical surrounds, but hardly know how to think
about the information environment. We are manipulating the terrestrial
electromagnetic spectrum in ways barely understood, and are proceeding
to network the planet with 'progress is our most important product'
At the same time, rapidly increasing numbers
of people, in local communities and around the world are evermore
able to cheaply and easily communicate among each other. Cultural
and political boundaries are shifting or disappearing, as ideas
flow with increasing freedom.
Information technologies and knowledge resources
are assuming greater importance and value in the emerging local-global
economy. The flow of information through society, much like water
or energy, tends to nurture and reorganize all aspects of the
system. As with other resources and services, there is a delicate
balance that will need to be understood and maintained between
productivity and waste in this changing economic landscape.
New understandings of cause and effect in
the information environment can serve as the building blocks
of an information ecology. Let's not just talk about it, though.
Let us create examples, and take greater social and individual
responsibility for the new opportunities and possibilities of
enhanced democratic trends.