The Social Life of Information

The Social Life of Information

In their 2000 book "The Social Life of Information," John Seely Brown (the former Chief Scientist of Xerox Corporation and director of Xerox PARC) and Paul Duguid, (Adjunct professor at the UC Berkeley School of Information) discuss recently developed practices in the transmission of information in social and business context.

Software known as autonomous agents can manipulate information. Different forms of such agents include information broker, product brokering, merchant brokering, and negotiation. The authors use an example of information brokering using the Macintosh program named Sherlock that searched for the word "knobot" via the Internet. Product brokering would be an example of an online bookstore sending a person an email about a book for sale based on the previous types of books the customer bought.Merchant brokering, now widely practiced, consists of finding the best price for a product. For example, Ebay allows users, not necessarily in the same location, to buy new, used, or refurbished products through an auction, at a fixed price, or through negotiation.

This book has been republished in 2002 with a new introduction, by the Harvard Business School Press.

The book has been favorably [ reviewed] by "First Monday," a peer-reviewed online journal in Library and information science:

[The book helps] us see through frenetic visions of the future to the real forces for change in society. Arguing elegantly for the important role that human sociability plays in the world of bits, this book ... gives us an optimistic look beyond the simplicities of information and individuals. The authors show how a better understanding of the contribution that communities, organizations, and institutions make to learning, knowledge, and judgement can lead to the richest possible use of technology in our work and everyday lives.

Other reviews of the book from professional journals include:
* [ Journal of Marketing] (2002, 66(4): 124-127)
* [ Planning for Higher Education] (2001, Summer, 38-39)
* [ Portal: Libraries and the Academy] (2001 1(2) pp 180-12).
* [ Library Quarterly] (2001 71(1) pp 94-95)

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