What is Information?
What is Information?” considers the material and social nature of information in historical and contemporary contexts. How has information been managed and valued? How have information infrastructures served as sites of social and political connection or antagonism? How have ideas about information changed over time and how have they remained the same? The course integrates perspectives from the social sciences and the humanities, and prepares students to think about (and act in) a world in which information (and its linked concepts, like data) play an increasingly important social and political role. The course addresses the history of information as both a concept and as a matter of social practice, and then focuses on three major topics: how information is presented, how information is organized, and how information is put to social and political use. Moving from the earliest periods of human history and their “information ages” (including the birth of writing and the dawn of printing and mass literacy), the course leads students into our contemporary “information society,” and the ways in which both the use and manipulation of information shape our lives.