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From Gutenberg to the Global Information Infrastructure: Access to Information in the Networked World (Digital Libraries & Electronic Publishing) (Digital Libraries and Electronic Publishing Series) [Paperback]

Christine L Borgman

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Book Description

14 Feb 2003 Digital Libraries and Electronic Publishing Series
Will the emerging global information infrastructure (GII) create a revolution in communication equivalent to that wrought by Gutenberg, or will the result be simply the evolutionary adaptation of existing behavior and institutions to new media? Will the GII improve access to information for all? Will it replace libraries and publishers? How can computers and information systems be made easier to use? What are the trade-offs between tailoring information systems to user communities and standardizing them to interconnect with systems designed for other communities, cultures, and languages?This book takes a close look at these and other questions of technology, behavior, and policy surrounding the GII. Topics covered include the design and use of digital libraries; behavioral and institutional aspects of electronic publishing; the evolving role of libraries; the life cycle of creating, using, and seeking information; and the adoption and adaptation of information technologies. The book takes a human-centered perspective, focusing on how well the GII fits into the daily lives of the people it is supposed to benefit.Taking a unique holistic approach to information access, the book draws on research and practice in computer science, communications, library and information science, information policy, business, economics, law, political science, sociology, history, education, and archival and museum studies. It explores both domestic and international issues. The author's own empirical research is complemented by extensive literature reviews and analyses.

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"No doubt this book will become a modern classic... a bookmark in the literature to which other writers refer continuously." -- Philip Calvert, Online Information Review

From the Author

Why I wrote this book (and why you may wish to read it)
Providing access to information is only one of many reasons for constructing a global information infrastructure, but an essential one. The success of applications such as electronic commerce, electronic publishing, distance-independent education, distributed entertainment, and cooperative work depends upon the ability to discover and locate information, whether about products, services, people, places, facts, or ideas of interest. None of these applications are new. What is new is the process by which they are conducted. Activities associated with familiar physical spaces for working, shopping, browsing through bookshelves, wandering through galleries, playing games, or meeting friends for coffee are occurring in virtual spaces. Many activities associated with separate places are converging, all conducted from a single computer console. Yet other activities that were associated with a single place are now diverging, conducted over mobile and tetherless information appliances.

The success of a global information infrastructure will depend upon how well it fits into people’s daily lives. To be attractive, it should be easy to use, available, affordable, and fill perceived needs. But what do these terms mean, and to whom? What is known about information-related behavior, and how can that knowledge be applied to designing a GII that will achieve its promise of improving access to information? Therein lies the focus of this book. Much is known about the information-related behavior of individuals and institutions, yet relatively little of that knowledge is being applied to the design of digital libraries, national and global information infrastructures, or information policy. This book draws upon that body of research and practice to identify ways it can be employed in constructing a GII that is useful and usable to a broad audience.

I wrote this book for a couple of reasons. One is that I had long sought a book that provides a broad sweep of current thinking about information, technology, behavior, and policy. Few of my colleagues could recommend a general starting point, and it has been hard to find sources to which I could direct people -- so I wrote that book myself. The second reason is that I’d reached a point in my career where it was time to consolidate and integrate my work into a larger conceptualization, pulling together disparate threads of design, behavior, and policy, drawing upon research and practice in computer science, communication, library and information science, education, law, information policy, sociology, history, political science, economics, business, archives, and museum studies. The book took 10 years from conceptualization through completion, a period of dramatic global changes in technology, business, and politics. My challenge was to write a thoughtful analysis that is current today and will be relevant five years from now, incorporating what has been learned about access to information over the last several decades, and in some cases, over the last several centuries.

This book raises more questions than it answers. But now is the time to be raising these questions. Individuals, institutions, businesses, and governments are making strategic decisions that will influence the design of information systems and services and associated applications in commerce, education, communication, entertainment, and government. The audience for this book is scholars, practitioners, and policy makers involved in making these decisions, as well as students, and yes, even users. I hope this book will stimulate discussion among all of these players, because decisions made now will influence access to information, for everyone, for generations to come. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The premise of a global information infrastructure is that governments, businesses, communities, and individuals can cooperate to link the world's telecommunication and computer networks together into a vast constellation capable of carrying digital and analog signals in support of every conceivable information and communication application. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most important books on information science 22 Feb 2002
By Marc Colen - Published on
The global information infrastructure may be serve as the cornerstone in the development of the world over the next decades and beyond. An understanding, or at the very least an appreciation, of the potential benefits and risks that can result from the still emerging technology is critical to ensure that the potential benefits of the technology, as actually implemented, will justify the concomitant hazards. Questions abound: In what context and by what methods will digital libraries be implemented and made available? Will the need for intellectual access be accounted for? Who will design the infrastructure? Who will manage the metadata on which the system is dependent? Who control our sources of information? How is that control to be monitored? And who do we want controlling information about us?
In what I believe to be one of the most important books to be published in the field of information science, Dr. Borgman astutely addresses many of the critical issues facing the emerging global information infrastructure and notes that there are more questions than answers. The author, a preeminent scholar in this field, has provided a framework from which a user of the Internet, or, indeed, anyone interested in what is one of the most powerful systems to be created by man, can begin to appreciate the implications of this system. Ignorance is only bliss in the short run.
Published in 2000 and winner of the American Society for Information Science and Technology's 2001 Best Book Award, this book is current, timely and uniquely relevant. As an attorney involved with intellectual property rights and as an engineer who began working with computers in 1962, I wholeheartedly recommend this book.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Startlingly wide-ranging look at information access 19 Feb 2002
By frumiousb - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Borgman creates a compelling discussion about the GII (Global Information Infrastructure) and its actual impact on the current and near-future world. She looks at it from the point of view of access to information, scholarly publishers, digital libraries and the future of the library itself. While wide-ranging, it never loses the plot or becomes difficult to read. Worth the price of the book just to have her reference list.
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