Daniel Bell - The Information Age - 1973
By information I mean data processing in the broadest sense; the storage, retrieval, and processing of data becomes the essential resource for all economic and social exchanges... By knowledge, I mean an organized set of statements of facts or ideas, presenting a reasoned judgment or an experimental result, which is transmitted to others through some communication medium in some systematic form. - Daniel Bell (1979)
Daniel Bell is perhaps the most famous sociologist of our time. He put forth the concept of a post-industrial society or information age in his book The Coming of Post-Industrial Society (1973). Later, he re-named this concept the information society, for which he is generally considered as the creator of the term (1979).
By an information society, Bell means that we move from a producer of goods (manufacturing) to service economy and that theoretical knowledge, technology, and information become the major mode of commodity. Information, and those who know how to create, assemble, and disperse, are more valued than labor. Information is normally costly to produce, but cheap to reproduce. That is, the cost of producing the first copy of an information good (such as writing a book or recording a CD) is normally quite costly, but reproducing those goods is often negligible.
In The Coming of Post Industrial Society, he wrote that we need to learn how to predict the future, rather than to forecast it in order to raise the number of possibilities so as to the directions in which society should be changing.
In the coming century, the emergence of a new social framework of telecommunications may be decisive for the way in which economic and social exchanges are conducted, the way knowledge is created and retrieved, and the character of the occupations and work in which men engage. - Daniel Bell in The Social Framework of the Information Society 1980.
Return to the Information and Knowledge page
Bell, D. (1979).The Social Framework of the Information Society. Dertoozos, M. L., Moses, J. (eds.), The Computer Age: A 20 Year View, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 500-549.