Info 218: Concepts of Information Spring 2012

School of Information, UC Berkeley, Spring 2012

Paul Duguid, Geoffrey Nunberg, instructors

Syllabus & Readings

Required Reading:
Gleick, James. 2011. The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood New York: Viking.

Week 1
17 Jan: Introduction
Slides: Geoff

19 Jan: Exercise: I-School Identities

Reading Background
  • Brouillon, L. 1956. Science and Information Theory. New York: Academic Press.
  • Schrader,Alvin M. 1984. "In Search of a Name: Information Science and Its Conceptual Antecedents," Library and Information Science Research 6(3): 227-272
Zeitgeist Slides: Geoff

Week 2
24 Jan: Playing With Words: "Technology," "Platform," and Other "Keywords"

Reading Background
  • Duff, A. S., Craig, D., & McNeill, D. A. 1996. "A Note On the Origins Of the 'Information Society.'" Journal of Information Science, 22(2): 117 -122.
  • Jones, William. 2010, "No Knowledge but through information" <="" em=""> 15(9-6).
  • Rosenberg, Daniel. 2012. "Toward a Quantitative History of Data," Paper Presented at the American Historical Association Meetings, Chicago. [author's draft; available through bspace]
  • 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.
  • Kelly, Kevin. 2010. What Technology Wants. New York: Viking.
  • Duguid, Paul. 2011. "Spin Cycle" (Review of Tim Wu, The Master Switch, & Kevin Kelly, What Technology Wants. Nation, January 10/17

26 Jan: Exercise: Producing and Consuming Information

Week 3
31 Jan: How Much Information?

Reading Background
  • Bell, Daniel. 1976. The Coming of Post-Industrial Society: A Venture in Social Forecasting.New York, NY: Basic Books.
  • Blair, Ann, 2011. Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information before the Modern Age. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Brown, John Seely & Paul Duguid.  2000. "Limits to Information," chapter 1 in The Social Life of Information, Boston: Harvard University Press.
  • Green, John C. 1964. "The Information Explosion: Real or Imaginary," Science 144(3619): 646-648.
  • Kallinkikos, Jannis. 2006. The Consequences of Information: Institutional Implications of Technological Change. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.
  • Lesk, Michael. 1996.  "How Much Information is There in the World?"
  • Mayer-Schönberger, Viktor. 2009. Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • Machlup, Fritz. 1962. The Production and Distribution of Knowledge in the United States. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Pool, I. de S. 1983. "Tracking the Flow of Information." Science, 221(4611): 609-613.
  • Porat, Marc U.  1977. The Information Economy: Sources and Methods for Measuring the Primary Information Sector, Washington, D.C.
  • Rosenberg, Daniel. 2010. Introduction [to panel of historians on Information Overload]. Journal of the History of Ideas. 64(1): 1-9.
Zeitgeist Slides:  Paul

2 Feb: History of "Information"—1

  • Nunberg, Geoffrey, 1996.  "Farewell to the Information Age" in G. Nunberg, ed., The Future of the Book, Berkeley: University of California Press. Read pp. 1-23.
  • The Oxford English Dictionary entry for 'information'. Go to the OED here and look up information. You can skip the first senses under I, but look closely at senses II.4.a; II.5a-e, 6. Look also at the compounds at the end of the entry. Try to read the citations as well, at least from the 18th c. on -- often these help to fill in exactly what the definition means. 
  • Gleick, James. 2011. The Information. Pantheon. "Prologue." Online here if you haven't received/dowloaded your copy yet.


Week 4
7 Feb: History of "Information"—2

Reading: See 2 Feb.

9 Feb: The "Public," the Public Sphere, and Public Opinion

Reading Background: Zeitgeist:
Slides Paul

Week 5
14 Feb: From the Bourgeois Public Sphere to the Internet

Reading Slides:  Paul

16 Feb: Exercise: Public Opinion

Week 6
21 Feb: Information and the State

Reading Background:
  • 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.
  • Oettinger, Anthony. 1980. "Information Resources: Knowledge and Power and the 21st Century," Science[Centennial Issue, July 4] 209 (4452): 191-198.
  • Rusnock, Andrea A. 2002. Vital Accounts: Quantifying Health and Population in England and France. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Zeitgeist: Slides:  Paul

23 Feb: Information and the Organization

Reading Background Slides:  Paul

Week 7
28 Feb: Information and Objectivity

Background: Zeitgeist:
1 Mar: Exercise: Objectivity

Week 8
6 Mar: Information and Political Science

Reading Background:
  • Dewey, John. "The Public and its Problems," in  Andreas Hess, ed., 2003, American Social and Political Thought, New York: NYU Press. Selection from Dewey's The Public and its Problems, 1927 (Swallow Press, 1991).
  • Carey, James W. 1991. "The Press, Public Opinion, and Public Discourse," in Theodore Lewis Glasser & Charles T. Salmon, eds., Public Opinion and the Communication of Consent.
  • 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 Economy16(2): 135-150.
  • Kinder, Donald R., 2003. "Communication awnd Politics in the Age of Information," in David O. Sears and Leonie Huddy, eds., Oxford Handbook of Political Psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Page, Benjamin I. and Robert Y. Shapiro, 1992. The Rational Public: Fifty Years of Trends in Americans' Policy Preferences. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
Slides Geoff

8 Mar: Exercise: Political Science

Week 9
13 Mar: Information and the Organization of Knowledge

  • Burke, Peter. "Classifying Knowledge" chapter 5 in Peter Burke, A Social History of Knowledge. Cambridge: Polity. 
  • Gleick, Ch 3.
Background: Geoff's Slides

15 Mar: Exercise: The Internet and the Organization of Knowledge

Final Paper/Project Proposals Due

20 Mar: Theories of Information—1

  • Gleick, James. 2001. "Information Theory" Chapter 7; Ch 8 "The Informational Turn"; Ch 9 "Entropy and its Demons."
  • Shannon,  C. E. 1948. "A Mathematical Theory of Communication," Bell Systems Technical Journal, July & October (Reprinted in ACM SIGMOBILE 5(1) 2001: 3-55 Read until you come to a paragraph you don't understand. Read it a second time, then continue until you reach another paragraph you don't understand; read it a second time etc. When you come to the third paragraph you don't understand, stop.
  • Shannon,  C. E. 1956. "The Bandwagon," IRE Transactions on Information Theory 2 (March): 3.
Background Slides Geoff

22 Mar: Information, Economics, and Development
Background: Zeitgeist: Slides Paul

Week 11
Midterm break

- No classes -

Week 12
3 April: Information, Economics, and Development—2

Background Zeitgeist: Slides Paul

10 Apr: Theories of Information—2

Reading Background
  • Israel, David and John Perry, What is Information? pp. 1-19 in Philip Hanson, ed., Information, Language and Cognition. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.
  • Dretske, F. I. 1981. Knowledge and the Flow of Information. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Foley, Richard, 1987. "Dretske's 'Information-Theoretic' Account of  Knowledge.' Synthese  Vol. 70, No. 2, Feb., 1987  
  • Fred Dretske. 1986. "Misrepresentation." In R. Bogdan (ed.), Belief: Form, Content, and Function. Oxford University Press. Google Books, w/ some pages missing.
Slides: Slides

Week 13
5 Apr: Information and Cognitive Science—1


12 Apr: Discussion: Outline of Finals Papers/Projects


Week 14
17 Apr: Information and Cognitive Science—2: Critique-Planning, Learning, Designing

Reading Background:
Paul's Slides
Kartik's Slides

19 Apr: Literacy, then and now


  • Graff, Harvey. 1993. "Literacy, Myths, and Legacies: Lessons from the past/thoughts for the future," Interchange  24(3): 271-286

  • Neil Selwyn, Neil. 2004. "Reconsidering Political and Popular Understandings of the Digital Divide." New Media & Society, 6(3): 341-362
  • Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, American Council of Research Libraries

    Week 15
    24 Apr: Searching for Information

    Reading Background: Zeitgeist:

    Paul's Slides

    26 Apr: Wrap: Has This Course Provided Any Information?

    Week 16: Reading Week
    1 May: Final Paper/Project Presentations

    11 May: Final Paper/Project Due