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This book is a thought-provoking look at the limits of information. I liked the book because it focused on many things that I don't normally think about, and raised important questions about my own use of information. For example, how can a software program find my preferences on the Web when I'm not sure what I'm looking for? How should I compare offers when I know very little about the people making the offers?
Many aggressive pundits who favor the development of electronic communication and information tend to project that certain products and services will be totally replaced. For example, I have read forcasts that predict the end of printed books, universities, and various kinds of retail outlets in the next few years.
The authors point out that many solutions and institutions will continue because they offer a social context that makes information more valuable. A historical analogy of the telephone is described in the book. Bell first put telephones in hotel rooms so people could call the front desk, a convenience over walking to the front desk to have the conversation. Later, he put telephones next to the counter in diners so that people could watch others using the telephone to learn how and why people were using it.
Many people who see distance learning as replacing the university are forgetting that much education takes place outside of lectures, writing papers and taking tests. The university's social context will continue to be helpful with these other types of learning. How can that context to added to distance learning?
One of the most interesting ideas in the book was the way that structure and structurelessness in information and uses of information can complement each other in creating bodies of perspective and experimentation. Normally, each of use thinks that only by adding more and more structure can more be achieved. This book makes the case for a more balanced approach is a persuasive way.
The issues and examples are compelling, interesting, and thought-provoking.
If you want to examine how you should adapt your own actions and those of your organization to the Internet, this book is essential reading! After you finish enjoying this book, I suggest you consider how you can structure the way you communicate to be more accessible to others. In doing so, be sure to consider how to make things looser to encourage imagination, as well as tighter to ensure understanding.
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on 20 September 2000
Very readable. Highlights the importance of knowledge as opposed to information and clearly identifies why knowledge is inextricably intertwined with people. Identifies reasons why information has been put on a pedestal and attempts to shift the focus towards its useful application. (ben hyde, multimedia researcher)
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on 31 December 2008
The book has some excellent points even though it at times feels a little old (It's only 6 years old). I would recommend it to anyone interested in how we should approach implementing (into a social context) new technology and how we shouldn't get to cut up in the hype that new technology often brings :)
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on 24 September 2009
Found it well worth reading. Made important points about information only existing in a context (much as words take their meanings from the sentence they are in) and that when we change the context of information, we may change its meaning without recognising it.
Felt a little outdated as the technology is moving so fast, but many of the ideas could apply to any culture, not merely the Internet age.
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