From Government to Governance
Chapter 4: Building the Information Society
18223_Innovation/Chap 4 09/06/2003 9:43 am Page 1 4. Building the information society If information technology is the present-day equivalent of electricity in the industrial era, in our age the Internet could be linked to both the electrical grid and the electric engine because its ability to distribute the power of information throughout the entire realm of human activity. (Manuel Castells 2001: 1) INTRODUCTION Much is being said about the emerging information society and its prospects for the future. Many of these perspectives are already a reality in our daily life, whereas others are supposed to come in the near future. The first discussions about the emerging information society date from the 1970s, mostly in the USA (Bell 1973). They were rather academic, and only involved a few people. Almost three decades later, this notion has become very fashionable, and what initially was a buzzword amid scholars and visionary policy-makers, has now been taken up in wide public debates. The truth is that no other topic matches the ability of the ‘information society’ to generate popular and imaginative visions of who we are and our collective future. In addition to these public debates, the information society is also related to a series of governmental actions. They are important because they might enhance or hinder the advent of the expected transformations, and because, at the end of the day, they do shape the nature of this future society and economy. Governmental actions relate, primarily, to issues of infrastructure-building, market regulations,...
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