What Is the Infosphere?

...day by day, and night by night, he called up one corner of the globe after another, and looked upon its life, and studied its strange sights, and spoke with its people, and realized that by grace of this marvelous instrument he was almost as free as the birds of the air, although a prisoner under locks and bars. He seldom spoke, and I never interrupted him when he was absorbed in this amusement. I sat in his parlor and read, and smoked, and the nights were very quiet and reposefully sociable, and I found them pleasant. Now and then I would hear him say 'Give me Yedo;' next, 'Give me Hong-Kong;' next, 'Give me Melbourne.' And I smoked on, and read in comfort, while he wandered about the remote underworld, where the sun was shining in the sky, and the people were at their daily work.

- Mark Twain, The Great Dark (1898)

Podcast of the Day

New technology has changed our relationship to one another and to the world, argues Luciano Floridi. This calls for a shake up in philosophy.

Listen to Luciano Floridi on the Fourth Revolution

Video of the Day

Short Article of the Day

...The worry is no longer about who controls content. It is about who controls the flow of that content. It is no coincidence that we are now seeing Big Data companies like Facebook sponsor presidential debates. Nor is it a coincidence that people are increasingly following the election on social media, using it both as the source of their information and as the way to get their view out. Consent is still being manufactured, but the manufacturing is being done willingly by us, usually intended for consumption by other people with whom we already agree, facts or no facts...

Continue reading Michael P. Lynch's article Googling is Believing: Trumping the Informed Citizen

Further Reading

...Every action we take leaves a trail of information that could be recorded and stored for future use. For instance, you might use the simple technology of keeping a detailed diary listing all the things you did and thought during the day. But today you could augment that with even more detail gathered with advanced information technologies some examples include; all of your economic transactions, a GPS generated plot of where you traveled, a list of all the web addresses you visited and the details of each search you initiated online, a listing of all your vital signs such as blood pressure and heart rate, all of your dietary intakes for the day, and many other examples can be imagined. As you go through this thought experiment you begin to see the complex trail of data that you generate each and every day and how that same data might be collected and stored though the use of information technologies. Here we can begin to see how information technology can impact moral values. As this data gathering becomes more automated and ever-present, we must ask who is in control of this data, what is to be done with it, and who will insure its accuracy. For instance, which bits of information should be made public, which held private, and which should be allowed to become the property of third parties like corporations? Questions of the production, access and control of information will be at the heart of moral challenges surrounding the use of information technology.. - Continue reading the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Information Technology and Moral Values by John Sullins

Want to learn more? Check out: The Five Best Books on the Impact of the Internet on Society

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