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Managing the Infosphere

Managing the Infosphere: Governance, Technology, and Cultural Practice in Motion

Stephen D. McDowell
Philip E. Steinberg
Tami K. Tomasello
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Temple University Press
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  • Book Info
    Managing the Infosphere
    Book Description:

    Managing the Infosphereexamines the global world of communications as a mobile space that overlaps uneasily with the world of sovereign, territorial nation-states. Drawing on their expertise in geography, political science, international relations, and communication studies, the authors investigate specific policy problems encountered when international organizations, corporations, and individual users try to "manage" a space that simultaneously contradicts and supports existing institutions and systems of governance, identity, and technology.The authors argue that the roles of these systems in cyberspace cannot be fully understood unless they are seen as mutually constituting each other in specific historical structures, institutions, and practices. With vision and insight, the authors look beyond the Internet to examine the entire networked world, from cell phones and satellites to global tourism and business travel.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0098-7
    Subjects: Sociology, Population Studies, Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. 1 Managing the Infosphere
    (pp. 1-35)

    Managing the Infospherewas conceived in the summer of 2003, when one of us (Steinberg) was located in Mountain City, Tennessee, a town of 2,443 residents nestled in a valley in the Appalachian Mountains, about 12 miles from the borders of both Virginia and North Carolina. By any measure, Mountain City is one of the more isolated points in the eastern United States. It is the only incorporated town in Johnson County (pop. 17,499), and much of the 298-square-mile county consists of uninhabited National Forest land. Fewer than 60 percent of adults in the county have a high school degree,...

  5. 2 Managing Technological Change
    (pp. 36-58)

    Infosphere technology is in a constant state of flux, leading some to observe that no sooner is a technological advancement or product created than it is immediately obsolete. Depending on the scale at which technological change occurs, governments and organizations, designers and developers, and individuals manage this ever-present stream of motion in a variety of ways that combine a range of social, economic, and political objectives and constraints. In this chapter, the phrasemanaging technological changerefers to the processes by which various affected parties direct and respond to technological innovations, changes in hardware and software, on an ongoing basis....

  6. 3 Scales of Governance, Governance of Scales
    (pp. 59-89)

    In shaping the spaces of mobility, governance, technology, and culture come together in a variety of ways in planning for infrastructure investment and services at the local level of city and municipal governance. For citizens, offline activities in daily life are increasingly tied to those making use of infosphere technologies and networks. Access to these networks is shaped by public and private infrastructures and investments, and this access can be mapped in geographic space. Some of the governance decisions structuring the access to and use of infosphere technologies take place in a local geographic scale and in local settings, but...

  7. 4 Communication Technology, Mobility, and Cultural Consumption
    (pp. 90-116)

    Notwithstanding the ongoing importance of place in the construction of the infosphere, which was emphasized in the previous chapter, the experience of living in the infosphere, in a fundamental sense, involves moving across space and transgressing the boundaries of place. Watching television programs from different parts of the world has become part of daily life for many people in the twenty-first century, with television coming to more and more remote villages (Johnson, 2000). For a much smaller group, leisure travel across state borders is an expectation either every year or during one’s life, just as pilgrimages might be for some...

  8. 5 Internet Names, Semiotics, and Alternative Spaces of Governance
    (pp. 117-143)

    Peter Taylor (1996) begins his bookThe Way the Modern World Workswith an observation about hegemony and language in global telecommunications. He asserts that true hegemony is fairly uncommon. A state that has the power to bend others to its will is not necessarily hegemonic. For Taylor, hegemony involves more than being dominant militarily, politically, culturally, or economically. Rather, a hegemon’s combinedsocialpower is so awesome that its values and desires define the field of interaction. A hegemon’s identity becomes fused with that of the global system, leaving other states’ identities to be scripted only as exceptions.


  9. 6 Fixity, Mobility, and the Governance of Internet Names
    (pp. 144-180)

    One of the striking features in international communication in the 1990s was the emerging and widespread acceptance of proposals advocating for nonstate forms of governance, especially with respect to Internet media. In 1998, rather than situating the formal governance of Internet technologies, protocols, and name assignments in an international organization as a way to recognize the globalization of these media, the United States created the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Thus, by the fiat of one state, a nonstate body effectively took over the national and international management of the naming function for this rapidly growing communications...

  10. 7 The Infosphere: A World of Places, an Ocean of Information, or a Special Administrative Region?
    (pp. 181-192)

    Throughout this book, we have sought to illustrate and investigate the three metaphors presented in the introduction that may be used to describe the infosphere: distinct places of interaction composed of bounded corridors, as in the Mountain City and Appalachia examples; an ocean of information, as related to the world-ocean example; and a special administrative region, similar to Hong Kong. Likewise, we have attempted to outline the complexity of issues that arise when the four tensions—fixity/mobility, production/trade, territory/ nonterritory, politics/economics—are taken into consideration within these three metaphoric models. Depending on the context in which and the scale at...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 193-196)
  12. References
    (pp. 197-226)
  13. Index
    (pp. 227-236)