New Course   We are often told that we are living in an “Information Society,” and indeed, this is a truth that seems self-evident: communications and information technologies increasingly pervade our homes, our workplaces, our schools, even our own bodies. But what exactly do we mean when we talk about the “Information Society”? If we are living in an Information Society, when did it come into being? What developments — social, economic, political, or technological — made it possible? How does it differ from earlier eras? And finally, and most significantly: what does it all mean?

For the Spring 2014 semester, I am introducing a new course: I222: The Information Society. This course was specifically designed to provide students from a wide variety of humanistic or social scientific disciplines the tools that they need to make sense of the relationship between social and technological change. I222 fulfills the Social and Historical Studies requirements of the Indiana University General Education Requirement.

This course will explore the ways in Western, industrialized societies, over the course of the previous two centuries, came to see information as a crucial commercial, scientific, organizational, political, and commercial asset. Although at the center of our story will be the development of new information technologies — from printing press to telephone to computer to Internet — our focus will not be on machines, but on people, and on the ways in which average individuals contributed to, made sense of, and come to terms with, the many social, technological, and political developments that have shaped the contours of our modern Information Society. Our goal is to use these historical perspectives to inform our discussions about issues of contemporary concern about information technology.

You can find more information about the course at