Tensions And though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so truth be in the field, we do injuriously by licensing and prohibiting to misdoubt her strength.—John Milton1 After such knowledge, what forgiveness? Think now History has many cunning passages, contrived corridors And issues, deceives with whispering ambitions, Guides us by vanities.—T. S. Eliot2

Neither Milton nor Eliot would have recognized the phrase information policy; but, as these quotes from their writings illustrate, they understood some of the tensions that accompany the tendencies of the information society. In this chapter we address the tensions stirred by the changes described in the previous chapters, and the responses that are shaping policy thinking. In the first part, we examine the essential tension that underlies the information society-the traction between the ownership and exchange of information as a commodity versus the distribu­ tion of information as a public resource. But in a departure from most such discus­ sions, we further consider the consequences of this debate for privacy and information needs. The second part of the chapter concentrates on the infrastruc­ ture of the political process by focusing on integration between big politics and big media in contrast to fragmentation at the level at which the individual receives the messages. The third part of the chapter comprises an analysis of distributional justice as it pertains to three of the main issues facing information policy mak­ ers-information poverty, literacy, and universal service. We end the chapter with a review of the underlying assumptions that often determine which policies suc­ ceed and which fail.