Information Obesity: The web site

Resources for chapter 2: Valuing information

2.1 Your subjective values [page 13]

THINK: first about your life in general. Think of pieces of information - in the standard sense (facts, figures, etc.) - which you always have an interest in:

  • as part of your working life
  • in your home life
  • in other communities of which you are a part (what these are, of course, will vary from person to person - see also a thinking task in chapter 12).

Now think about more specific things. What will be of particular interest to you tomorrow? Why is it valuable? Is it valuable to others, or just to you?

Back to the top

2.2 Information as a resource [pages 20-21]

THINK: about the information which you use in your personal life, as drawn out by the previous task. Now think about how these terms, which describe information as a resource, can apply in your personal situation. I give examples from my own life, but it is more helpful if you try to think of ones that apply only to you.

How does information:

  • flow?
  • accumulate?
  • become blocked or enclosed (deliberately or not)?
  • become lost, and/or reduce in diversity?
  • become polluted, or degraded in quality?

My examples follow:

  • flow: Like many other people, at least amongst the professional class in the developed world, I spend a lot of time downloading and uploading material to the Internet, sending and receiving emails, and so on. Unlike many, I watch almost no TV and do not regularly buy a newspaper. My input of news comes mainly casually, reading papers left on trains or in cafés, or sometimes seeing TV screens in places like pubs and train stations. I tend to stay in touch with friends mainly by email and Facebook.
  • accumulation: Over the years I have been an academic I have accumulated a large amount of books, papers and notes which reside in my home office. Increasingly I also store this in electronic form (PDFs, etc). Over this time I have also built in my mind certain theories and ways of thinking about the world (which, largely, I have passed on to you through the IO book, this web site and other publications). I have also acquired an increasingly large stock of information about how the MA: DTCE has worked through information like records of student grades, feedback, logs of access to the course web sites and so on. In a personal and more casual sense I have a large accumulation of recordings of old movies (one reason I watch little TV...) and music. I also have 25 years of my life recorded in personal diaries (see pic), a stock of self-reflection about my life which is still accumulating daily.
  • Image: 25 volumes of personal diary
  • blockage: I feel information literate enough to be able to find most information that I seek though like everyone I am subject to the partial reporting of certain news stories by the media: it is possible to reveal these biases, however. I cannot always share certain images and recordings in my online teaching because of copyright constraints, even though this is not a commercial enterprise.
  • loss and reduction of diversity: I do wonder how long my VCR will last and whether I will be able to replace it when it does break. What will happen then to the information encoded on my video cassettes? I have not yet the time nor resources to back it all up onto a different medium. Old paper-based academic and personal notes will not last forever. I try hard to retain a diversity of teaching and/or materials storage techniques on the MA: DTCE but this is not always easy to do in the organisational environment within which I must work, where the use of a single course management system (Blackboard) is mandated by the university, and other approaches are not officially sanctioned. This may ultimately reduce the diversity of approaches we can use on our course.
  • pollution or loss of quality: Personally (as is surely clear from the IO book) I think the whole set of informational resources which individuals have access to is becoming degraded, though there are of course honourable exceptions. To pick only what I find the most pervasive example, the increasing penetration of advertising is harder and harder to avoid, and I wonder why most people seem prepared to tolerate it when they probably would not wish to see graffiti or litter in similar quantities.

Back to the top

All information on this site is © Andrew Whitworth 2009. Site design by Marilena Aspioti. Information on this site can be freely reproduced and used for educational and/or non-profit purposes. For commercial use, contact the copyright holder.