The Persistence of Ignorance
Preface hile walking through the publishers’ row at a conference in Singa- pore I could not help but be struck by the sheer volume of books on various aspects of the Information Age. Despite the existence of several authoritative analyses of various dimensions of the present technology- driven and communication-oriented Information Age, there appears to be a continuing appetite for deconstructing the ever-changing set of social and technical circumstances that characterize our modern age. Partly driven by the evolution of technologies, access to them and the mul- tiplicity of uses (both intended and unintended) to which these are put, any analysis of the Information Age is scarcely complete when it must yet again be redefined. Yet, an emerging set of assumptions have evolved with these analyses. These assumptions of the necessarily liberating, democratizing and beneficial qualities of information and communication technologies continue to be insufficiently addressed. Particularly problematic is the notion that these technologies and their popular modes of usage necessarily lead to a more informed public. This notion mandates a more careful look at the question of ignorance and how both established and emergent communication technolo- gies (and use modalities) may actually support long traditions of ignorance. The multiple titles with some variant of the term Information Age on the lists of various publishers prompted me to ask why there were not more titles on the dis-informing power of modern mediated communication. It was not so much that scholars were not interested in this topic—many have been skeptical...
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