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January 2022

A note on the origins of the 'information society'

Author(s): Craig, D., Mcneill, D. A.

Journal/Book: J Inform Sci. 1996; 22: Maypole House, Maypole Rd,, E Grinstead, W Sussex, England RH19 1HH. Bowker-Saur Ltd. 117-122.

Abstract: The origins of the 'information society' are not well understood. This paper assembles and evaluates the available data with a view to providing clarification of the provenance of a now widely-used and influential concept. Two main accounts have appeared. The first features Machlup's 1962 monograph The Production and Distribution of Knowledge in the United States. The second claims Japanese provenance, citing articles in the broadcasting journal Hose Asahi. Various equivocations and confusions are discussed, such as the tendency in both accounts to conflate the 'information society' with the concept of an 'information industry'. The second account quickly emerges as the stronger. However, it is argued (perhaps controversially) that ultimate credit for the invention of the 'information society' belongs not to the authors of the articles published in Hose Asahi, but to that journal's editorial staff. While the paper is primarily interpretative, some additional research data are cited.

Note: Article AS Duff, Napier Polytech, Dept Print Media Publishing & Commun, 10 Colinton Rd, Edinburgh EH10 5DT, Midlothian, Scotland

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