IS218: Concepts of Information

Spring, 2009
Paul Duguid and Geoff Nunberg, instructors

Jan 20:

1.      Intro


Capurro, Raphael &  Birger Hjorland, 2003. “The Concept of Information,” Annual Review of Information Science and Technology 37: 343–411

Cleveland, Harlan. 1985. "The Twilight of Hierarchy: Speculations on the Global Information Society," Public Administration Review 45(1): 185-195.

Frohmann, Bernd. 2004. Deflating Information: From Science Studies to Documentation. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Machlup,Fritz. 1983. "Semantic Quirks in Studies of Information," pp. 641-71 in Fritz Machlup & Una Mansfield, The Study of Information: Interdisciplinary Messages. New York: Wiley.

Machlup, Fritz & Una Mansfield (eds.). 1983. The Study of Information: Interdisciplinary Messages. New York: Wiley.

Miller, Gordon L. 1998. "The Concept of Information: A Historical Perspective of Modern Theory and Technology," Information and Behavior, 2: 27-53.

Schrader, Alvin M. 1984. “In Search of a Name: Information Science and Its Conceptual Antecedents,” Library and Information Science Research 6: 227–7

Toulmin, Stephen. 1972. Human Understanding: The Collective Use and Evolution of Concepts. Princeton, NJ: Princeton.

Tuomi, Ilkka. 1999. "Data is More Than Knowledge: Implications of the Reversed Knowledge Hierarchy for Knowledge Management and Organizational Memory." Journal of Management Information Systems 16(3): 103-117.

Geoff's slides
Paul's slides


Jan 27:

2.   Information theory and semantic accounts of information

Shannon,  C. E., 1948. "A Mathematical Theory of Communication," Bell Systems Technical Journal, July & October (Reprinted in ACM SIGMOBILE 5(1) 2001: 3-55.

Floridi, Luciano. "Semantic Conceptions of Information," Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Bar-Hillel, Yehoshua and Rudolph Carnap. "Semantic Information." The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 1953 IV(14):147-157.

Buckland, Michael. 1991. "Information as Thing." Journal of the American Society of Information Science 42:5, June: 351-360.

Dretske, F. I. 1981. Knowledge & the flow of information. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Israel, David and John Perry, “What is Information?” in Information, Language and Cognition, edited by Philip Hanson, Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1990: 1-19.

Paul's slides
Geoff's slides


Feb 3:

3.    Quantifying Information

Lyman, Peter, & Hal Varian, 2003. "How Much Information?: Executive Summary

Postman, Neil, 1990. "Informing Ourselves to Death," October, 1990.

IBM Global Technology Services, "The Toxic Terabyte: How Data-Dumping Threatens Business Efficiency,"  July 2006.

Schiffman, Betsy.  2008.  "Web 2.0 Preview: Torture by Information Overload,"  Wired Blog

Foley, John. 1995.  "New Tools Can Help Tame an Ocean of Data,"  Information Week.  October 30

Bell, Daniel. 1976. The Coming of Post Industrial Society: A Venture in Social Forecasting.New York, NY: Basic Books.

Brown, John Seely & Paul Duguid.  2000. "Limits to Information," chapter 1 in The Social Life of Information, Boston: Harvard University Press

Lesk, Michael. 1996.  "How Much Information is There in the World?"

Porat, Marc U.  1977. The Information Economy: Sources and Methods for Measuring the Primary Information Sector , Washington,D.C.
Paul's slides
Geoff's slides


Feb 10:

4.     The Advent of News

Habermas,  Jurgen, 1989.  "Introduction: Preliminary Demarcation of a Type of Bourgeois Public Sphere " pp 1-13 in Habermas,  Jurgen. 1989. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society,  Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Darnton, Robert. 2000. "An Early Information Society: News and the Media in Eighteenth-Century Paris,"  American Historical Review 105 (1)


Atherton, I. 1999. "The Itch Grown a Disease: Manuscript Transmission of News in the Early Seventeenth Century" in J. Raymond, ed., News, Nespapers and Society in Early Modern Britain. London: Frank Cass.

Fleck, Ludwik. 1979. Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Lenoir, Timothy. 1997. Instituting Science: The Cultural Production of Scientific Disciplines. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Povvey, Mary. 1998. A History of the Modern Fact: Problems of Knowledge in the Sciences of Wealth and Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Raymond, Joad, ed. 1999. News, Newspapers and Society in Early Modern Britain. London: Frank Cass.

Calhoun, Craig, ed. 1996. Habermas and the Public Sphere  (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996

Geoff's slides
Paul's slides


Feb 17:

5.     Information and the Organization of Knowledge: Encycplopedias, Dictionaries, Anthologies, Libraries, Museums


Nunberg, Geoffrey, 1996.  "Farewell to the Information Age" in G. Nunberg, ed., The Future of the Book, Berkeley: University of California Press.

Burke, Peter. A Social History of Knowledge. Ch. 5, "Classifying Knowledge." Cambridge: Polity.

Yeo, Richard. 1991. "Reading Encyclopedias: Science and the Organization of Knowledge in British Dictionaries of Arts and Sciences, 1730-1850." Isis, 82: 24-49.

McArthur, Tom. 1986. Ch 12-15, pp. 91-133 in Worlds of Reference. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

*Samuel Johnson. 1755. Preface to the Dictionary of the English Language
, London.

Foucault, Michel. "Classifying." Chapter 5 of The Order of Things. Routledge, 2002 (trans. of Les Mots et Les Choses, 1966). Most of the chapter is viewable at Google Book, and a plaintext version is also available here.

Geoff's slides


Feb 24:

6. Information and the Public: 19th Century Roots--News, Photography, Science & Social Science


Schudson, Michael. "The objectivity norm in American journalism," Journalism, Vol. 2, No. 2, 149-170.
Datson, Lorraine and Peter Galison. 1992. "The Image of Objectivity." Representations, No. 40, Special Issue: Seeing Science, pp. 81-128.


Schudson, Michael. 2003. "Where News Came From: The History of Journalism," Ch. 4 in The Sociology of News, Norton. Pp. 64-89.

Chalaby, Jean K. 2000. The Invention of Journalism. Palgrave Macmillan.

Tucker, J. 1997. "Photography as Witness, Detective, and Impostor: Visual Representation in Victorian Science," in Bernard Lightman, ed. Victorian Science in Context. University of Chicago Press.

Green, David. 1984. "Veins of Resemblance: Photography and Eugenics." Oxford Art Journal, Vol. 7, No. 2, Photography, pp. 3-16.

Geoff's slides

March 3:

7.  Economics and Information


Stiglitz, Joseph E.  2002.  "Information and the Change in the Paradigm in Economics," The American Economic Review 92(3) 460-501.

Kelly, Kevin. 1997. "New Rules for the New Economy," Wired 5.09.


Ancori, Antoine Bureth & Patrick Cohendet. 2000. "Economics of Knowledge: The Debate about Codification & Tacit Knowledge," Industrial and Corporate Change, 9(2): 255-287.

Arrow, Kenneth J. 1984. "Information and Economic Behavior" in K. Arrow, Collected Papers. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, pp: 136-152.

Cowan, Robin, Paul A. David & Dominique Foray. 2000. "The Explicit Economics of Knowledge Codification and Tacitness," Industrial and Corporate Change, 9(2): 211-253.

Duguid, Paul. 2005. "'The Art of Knowing': Social and tacit dimensions of knowledge and the limits of the community of practice." The Information Society 2005 21(2): 109-118

Hayek, Frederich. 1937.  "Economics and Knowledge," Economica 4[NS](13): 35-54. 

Hirshleifer, J. 1973. "Where Are We in the Theory of Information?,"American Economic Review, 2: 31-39.

Machlup,Fritz & Una Mansfield.  1983.  “Semantic Quirks in Studies of Information,” in The Study of Information: Interdisciplinary Messages.  New York: Wiley: 641–71.

Richardson, George B.  1960. Information and Investment: A Study in the Working of the Competitive Economy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Romer, Paul. 1993.  "Idea Gaps and Object Gaps in Economic Development," Journal of Monetary Economics, 32(3): 543-573.  

Shapiro, Carl. 1982. "Consumer Information, Product Quality and Seller Reputation," Bell Journal of Economics, 13(1): 20-35.

Shapiro, Carl & Hal R. Varian. 2000.  Information Rules: A Strategic Guide to the Network Economy.  Boston: Harvard University Press.


March 10:

8.     Information Processing: Cognitive Science & Artificial Intelligence


Simon, Herbert A. 1981. "Studying Human Intelligence by Creating Artificial Intelligence." American Scientist 69(3): 300-309.

Turing, Alan. 1950.  "Computing Machinery and Intelligence," Mind 59(235): 433-460 


Bolter, David Jay. Turing's Man: Western Culture in the Computer Age. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1984

Dreyfus, Hubert L. 1979. What Computers Can't Do: The Limits of Artificial Intelligence. New York: Harper & Row.

Gardner, Howard. 1987. The Mind's New Science: A History of the Cognitive Revolution. New York: Basic Books.

Johnson, George. 1986 Machinery of the Mind: Inside the New Science of Artificial Intelligence. Redmond, WA: Tempus/Microsoft Press.

Miller, George A. 1956. "The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information," Psychological Review 63(2): 81-97.

Searle, John. 1980.  "Minds, Brains, & Programs," The Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3(3) 417-457 [preprint]

Suchman, Lucy. 1993. "Response to Vera and Simon's 'Situated Action: A Symbolic Interpretation," Cognitive Science 17(1): 71-75.

Vera, Alonso H. & Simon, Herbert A.  1993.  "Situated Action: A Symbolic Interpretation," Cognitive Science 17(1) 7-48.

Waldrup, M. Mitchell. 1987. Man-Made Minds: The Promise of Artificial Intelligence. New York: Walker and Company.

Geoff's Notes
Paul's Notes

March 17:

9.     Information: The Modern Synthesis


Kline, Ronald, R. "Cybernetics, Management Science, and Technology Policy, The Emergence of 'Information Technology' as a Keyword,1948-1985. Technology & Culture 2006 74: 513-535.

Turner, Fred.  2005.  "Where the Counterculture Met the New Economy: The WELL and the Origins of Virtual Community," Technology & Culture 46 (3): 485-512


Bell, Daniel. 1979. "The Social Framework of the Information Society" pp: 163-211in Michael L. Dertouzos & Joel Moses, eds., The Computer Age: A Twenty-Year View. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Castells, Manuel. 2001. The Internet Galaxy: Reflections on Internet, Business, and Society. New York: Oxford University Press.

Castells, Manuel. 1996. The Rise of the Network Society: Vol 1 of The Information Age: Economy, Society, Culture. Oxford: Blackwells.

Castells, Manuel. 1997. The Power of Identity. Vol 2 of The Information Age: Economy, Society, Culture. Oxford: Blackwells.

Dorsey, John T. 1957. "A Communication Model for Administration," Administrative Science Quarterly 2(3): 307-324.

Lefebvre, Henri. 1971. Vers le Cyberanthrope. Paris: Denoel.

Lyotard, Jean-Francois. 1984. The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. Minneapolis, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.

Mattelart, Armand. 2001. The Information Society: An Introduction. London: Sage.

Duguid, Paul. 2006. "Netting Out" [review of Fred Turner, From Counterculture to Cybercluture]. The TLS, November 10. [author's draft]

Negroponte, Nicholas.  1995.  "The DNA of Information" pp. 11-20 in Being Digital.  New York. Knopf.

Toffler, Alvin. 1970. Future Shock. New York: Random House.

Geoff's Slides

Paul's Notes
Envisionment Videos

Spring Break


March 31: (paper proposals due)

11.     Information and the Modern State


Oettinger, Anthony G.  1980. "Information Resources: Knowledge and Power and the 21st Century," Science[Centennial Issue, July 4] 209 (4452): 191-198.

Scott, James C., John Tehranian, & Jeremy Mathias.  2002.  "The Production of Legal identities Proper to States: The Case of the Permanent Family Surname"  Comparative Studies in Society and History  44(1): 4-44.


Agar, John. 2003.  The Government Machine: A Revolutionary History of the Computer. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Campbell-Kelly, Martin, 2002.  "Information Technology and Organizational change in the British Census, 1801-1911," Information Systems Research 7(1): 35-57.

Cullen, Michael J. 1975 The Statistical Movement in Early Victorian Britain: The Foundations of Empirical Social Research. Harvester Press: New York.

Hacking, Ian. 1990. The Taming of Chance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Headrick, Daniel R.. 2000. When Information Came of Age: Technologies of Knowledge in the Age of Reason and Revolution. New York: Oxford University Press.

Rusnock, Andrea A. 2002. Vital Accounts: Quantifying Health and Population in England and France. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Barlow, John Perry. 1996.  "A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace."

Dyson, Esther, et al. 1994.  "Cybespace and the American Dream: A Magna Carta for the Knowledge Age."

Read, William H. 1978. "Information as a National Resource," Journal of Communication, 29(1): 172-178.

Paul's Notes


April 7:

12.     Information and the Modern State



April 14: (paper outlines due)

13.     Politics and Information

Geoff's discussion notes

Lippmann, Walter. 1922. Public Opinion, Macmillan. Ch. 6-7, 13-14. (Google Book; Also available at Project Gutenberg.)

Popkin, Samuel L.1994. The Reasoning Voter, Chicago. Ch. 1-3, 5. (Google Book). An abridged version is available via Google Books as "Information Shortcuts and the Reasoning Voter," in Bernard N. Grofman, ed. Information, Participation, and Choice, Michigan, 1995.


Dewey, John. "The Public and its Problems," in  Andreas Hess, ed., 2003, American Social and Political Thought, NYU Press. Selection from Dewey's The Public and its Problems, 1927 (Swallow Press, 1991).

Carey, James W. "The Press, Public Opinion, and Public Discourse," in Public Opinion and the Communication of Consent
ed. Theodore Lewis Glasser, Charles T. Salmon. Guilford Press, 1995.

Anthony Downs. 1957. An Economic Theory of Democracy. New York: Harper and Row. See also "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," The Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 65, No. 2 (Apr., 1957), pp. 135-150.

Kinder, Donald R., 2003. "Communication and Politics in the Age of Information," in David O. Sears and Leonie Huddy, eds., Oxford Handbook of Political Psychology, Oxford.
Page, Benjamin I. and Robert Y. Shapiro, 1992. The Rational Public: Fifty Years of Trends in Americans' Policy Preferences,
University of Chicago Press.

The Internet and the 2008 Election. 2008. Pew Internet and American Life Project.


Wolf, Gary, 2004. "How the Internet Invented Howard Dean."Wired, January 2004.

Moore, James F., 2003. "The Second Superpower Rears its Beautiful Head."


April 21:

14.     Information as Social Capital

Geoff's Discussion Notes


Graff, Harvey, 1993. "Literacy, Myths, and Legacies: Lessons from the past/thoughts for the future," Interchange  24(3).

Neil Selwyn, Neil 2004. "Reconsidering Political and Popular Understandings of the Digital Divide." New Media Society, 6; 341.

Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, American Council of Research Libraries


Stone, Lawrence. 1969. "Literacy and Education in England 1640-1900." Past and Present 42: 69-139

Vincent, David. 2003. "Literacy Literacy." Interchange, 34, 2-3.

Wilder, Stanley, 2005. "Information Literacy Makes All the Wrong Assumptions." Chronicle of Higher Education, Jan. 7.

Nunberg, Geoffrey, 2005. "Teaching Students to Swim in the Online Sea," The New York Times Week in Review, Feb. 13.

Shiller, Herbert, 2002. "Information and Advanced Capitalism," in Frank Webster, ed. Theories of the Information Society, Routledge.

Wresch, William, 1996. Disconnected: Haves and Have-nots in the Information Age.  Rutgers University Press, 1996.

Fink, Carston and Charles J. Kenny, 2003. "W(h)ither the digital divide?"Info 5,6.


April 28:

15.    Searching for Information


Vanevar Bush, 1945. "As we may think." The Atlantic (July)


Battelle, John. 2005. The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture. New York: Portfolio.

Brin, Sergey  & Lawrence Page, 1998. "Anatomy of a large-scale, Hypertextual Digital Search Engine."

Buckland, Michael K.  1997.  "What is a 'Document'?" Journal of the American Society for Information Science 48(9): 804-809.

Chartier, Roger. 1994. The Order of Books: Readers, Authors, and Libraries in Europe between the Fourteenth and Eighteenth Centuries. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Otlet, Paul, 1990.  "Something about Bibliography," pp.11-24 in W. Boyd Rayward, ed., International Organisation and Dissemination of Knowledge: Selected Essays of Paul Otlet. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
Internet Archive

Paul's slides

May 5: (papers due)

16.    Paper presentations