Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Group 1's Responses

Article 1
In his article “An Introduction to the Information Age,” Manuel Castellsdescribes what he refers to as the “network society.” Castellssummarizes the nine main features of the network society as follows- An informational economy – an economy that relies on knowledge,information and technology.- A global economy – the ability to link real time on a global scale. - The network enterprise – Both multinational corporations and companiesthat form strategic alliances through outsourcing that can bedissolved/reformed when needed.- Flexi-workers – refers to the changing job structure; going from acareer person to someone who is always changing jobs. - Social polarization/exclusion – increase inequality between the “have”and the “have nots” in society.- Culture of real virtuality – interactive media that allows fortargeted messages- Politics – politicians are increasingly reliant on media - Timeless time – technology changes how we view time. Example – TedWilliams head being frozen in hopes that someday he can be reanimated.- The space of flows Castells stresses that the IT revolution did not create the networksociety, but without IT, the network society would not exist.

Article 2
In “The information city, the new economy, and the network society”Manuel Castells describes the new economy as one based on productivity,with innovation, knowledge, flexibility and networks all playing majorroles. While these are not fundamentally new concepts, new informationtechnologies will allow them to really take off. Already, companies canact on a global level in real time, workers can travel between differentcountry offices, networks can coordinate, and participation in theglobal economy is increasing. In the coming future, companies will shareinformation with their networks on every level to facilitate innovationand drive increased production.In essence, the new economy is home to a bigger, more complex and lesspredictable marketplace. For instance everyone will be able tosimultaneously invest their savings and move large sums of money quicklyand efficiently. On top of this, currencies will be determined based onthe perceptions of the global financial market.The new economy creates an array of challenges for today’s cities todeal with. Socially, individualization will increase, the society willbecome increasingly fragmented, and a wider divide will appear betweenpeople of varying cultural and educational resources. If these result insocial exclusion and a loss of shared meaning, cities may lose theirsustainability. Also worth noting is that while technology has and will continue to aidethese changes, it is not itself sufficient to cause changes. This pointwas reinforced throughout the article and is worth noting.

Article 3
As we can see in the title, Garnham considers “information society theory” as “ideology,” i.e., a false discourse. His writing is, necessarily, about why information society theory insisted by Manuel Castells and others is a false discourse. His detailed critique on ‘information society theory’ is based on the following arguments.

1) It is not that technology solely determines the evolution of society.
2) The role of ICT in the ongoing social changes is overstated.
3) Capitalism has inherent capacity of metamorphosis. Thus, the ongoing changes in global capitalism are not due to the development of ICT, but to capitalism’s innate flexibility.

At the beginning of this article, Garnham argues that the study of communication as “part of the Enlightenment project” (p.166) should answer the conditions or forces of social changes. By his own arguments, the variable of ICT is excluded from the list of the “conditions of forces” that cause significant social changes. Then what can be the force? His answer to this question sounds like that of a Zen monk: that is the way capitalism is. Capitalism is originally good at transformation.

1) What does it mean by “modes of production” or “relations of production”? (pp.168-169) Does it mean the relations among ‘things’? Or producers? Or both? What is “superstructure” on page 178?

2) In our daily lives, can we specifically observe the transforming power of ICT? If so, can those arguments of Garnham be still valid?


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