The Information Society as a State of Mind The hero was distinguished by his achievement; the celebrity by his image or trade­ mark. The hero created himself; the celebrity is created by the media. The hero was a big man; the celebrity is a big name. Formerly, a public man needed a private secretary for a barrier between himself and the public. Nowadays he has a press secretary, to keep him properly in the public eye.—Daniel Boorstin1 We have reached a similar point of data gathering when each stick of chewing gum we reach for is acutely noted by some computer that translates our least gesture into a new probability curve or some parameter of social science. Our private and corporate lives have become information processes because we have put our cen­ tral nervous systems outside us in electric technology. That is the key to Professor Boorstin’s bewilderment in The Image, or What Happened to the American Dream.—Marshall McLuhan2 Broadly speaking, if industrial society is based on machine technology, post-in­ dustrial society is shaped by intellectual technology. And if capital and labor are the major structural features of industrial society, information and knowledge are the major structural features of industrial society. For this reason, the social organi­ zation of a post-industrial sector is vastly different from an industrial sector, and one can see this by contrasting the economic features of the two.—Daniel Bell3

In the 1960s, Daniel Boorstin and Marshall McLuhan constructed images of society that drew widespread attention and stimulated public discourse in America.4 They are of interest to us here because each explored information and communication related phenomena, in order to explain changes in soci­ ety. Their ideas inspired college students to reflect on the societal role of the mass media. But neither contributed a systematic macro theory explaining the significance of information structures and communication processes in Ameri­ can society. In their wake, scholars of communication and information studies retrenched and largely ignored the goal of explaining society.5 Not until Daniel Bell, a sociologist, published The Coming o f Post-Industrial Society did a macro theory take root.6 Bell’s theory, later refined by Porat and then elabo­ rated by others, suggested that a new and fundamentally different social order had arisen in response to recent transformations in work, technology, and the economy. Like Boorstin and McLuhan, Bell took information and communi­ cation as central themes; and, as a triumvirate of must-read books, they shaped the popular images and scholarly interpretations which have come to domi-

nate thinking about the information society.7 Their ideas prompted us to write this book and to propose the macro theory which we describe in this chapter.8