The New Industrial Society Behind the Thomson and Homestead and Keystone plants were the famous Lucy and Carrie furnaces for making pig iron; and behind them was the enormous Henry Clay Frick Coke Company with its 40,000 acres of coal land, its 2,688 railway cars, and its 13,252 coking ovens; and behind this, in turn, were 244 miles of rail­ ways (organized into three main companies) to ship materials to and from the cok­ ing ovens; and then at a still more distant remove were a shipping company and a dock company with a fleet of Great Lakes ore-carrying steamers; and then at the very point of origin of the steel-making process, was the Oliver Mining Company with its great mines in Michigan and Wisconsin.—Robert Heilbroner1 World satellite systems now make distance and time irrelevant. We witness and react to crises simultaneously with their happening. Networks of telephones, telex, radio, and television have exponentially increased the density of human contact. More people can be in touch with one another during any single day in the new communications environment than many did in a lifetime in the 14th century. The convergence of telecommunications and computing technologies distribute in­ formation automation to the limits of the world’s communication networks. We are well past the point of having the capability to transform most of human knowl­ edge into electronic form for access at any point on the earth’s surface.—Frederick Williams2

Heilbronner’s panorama evokes a familiar image of industrial America because it links America’s present to its past. The second image has gained familiarity more recently and associates the present with the future. It por­ trays America as an information society. The idea that a society can organize itself around the production and consumption of information comes from the theories of two social scientists and the reinterpretations of a third. Fritz Machlup, an economist, first introduced the theory of a knowledge economy from his analysis of the contribution of information activities to the 1958 U.S. Gross National Product.3 Daniel Bell, a sociologist, identified the decline of the industrial sector and the expansion of the service sector as leading indica­ tors of the advance of “post-industrial society.”4 While a doctoral student in communication studies, Marc Porat described a new information sector within the 1967 U.S. economy by breaking down the traditional sectors of agricul­ ture, industry, and service.5 As a result, he found the information sector to be the largest of the four, and on that basis declared the U.S. an information

economy. More than anyone else, Porat contributed to the popularization of the idea of an information society built on an information economy.