The Founding of The Information Society
The Information Society (TIS) was founded in the late 1970's. David
L. Holzman, Stephen J. Lukasik, both at the Rand Corporation at
the time, and Richard O. Mason, then at U.C.L.A., formulated the
need for a new journal that would deal with the broad social issues
soon to be created by the information age. They presented the idea
to Joseph Becker, President, Becker and Hayes, Inc. who agreed to
serve as Editor-In-Chief. The four met several times at the Bel
Air Hotel with Ben Russak who was extremely enthusiastic about the
opportunity and need. An analogy emerged. TIS was to be to information
policy what the journal FOREIGN AFFAIRS was to foreign policy. Becker
took the lead in establishing an advisory board and an editorial
board and all four founding editors began to solicit manuscripts.
Volume 1, Number 1 was published by Crane, Russak & Company
Joe Becker, was a leading information scientist in the United States.
He served as President of the American Society of Information Science
in 1969 and won its highest award -- the Award of Merit -- in 1984
(Anderson, 1995). Along with the other three founders, he assembled
an editorial board of well known computer, information, and social
scientists and arranged to have TIS published by the publishing
house of Crane and Rusack. The first issue appeared in 1981 and
TIS is now in its 12th volume. TIS was organized as a quarterly
refereed journal and it published articles primarily by scholars
and senior professionals. Volume 1 of TIS included articles by scholars
- Dr. Ann Branscomb, a legal scholar who specializes in studies
of intellectual property;
- Professor Donald Marchand, a founder of the field of Information
- Professor Enid Mumford, a British pioneer of the socio-technical
design of computer based-systems; and
- Professor Edwin B. Parker, a communications scholar who was
specially interested in telecommunications as a stimulant for
economic and social development.
The first volume also included articles by high level professionals,
- William E. Colby, later Director of the U.S. Central Intelligence
- Wilson Dizard, an early enthusiast of the concept of an information
society as a new social formation, and author of The Coming of
the Information Age; and
- Jacques Maisonrouge, a senior manager of IBM-Europe.
While the journal was international in worldview, TIS's first authors
were primarily Anglo-American with occasional European contributions.
Even so, there was an early focus on the role of telecommunications
and information technologies in less developed countries (East,
1983; Gray, 1983; Narasimhan, 1983) and rural regions of advanced
industrial countries (ie. Young and Bransford, 1983; Case and Rogers,
1987). By the late 1980s, TIS was also publishing articles written
from Asian perspectives (ie. Komiya, 1989; Li, 1990; Narasimhan,
1983; Samarajiva, 1989). Since its inception, TIS has served as
a vehicle for publishing research about information technology and
social change, and information policy.
Expanding TIS's Intellectual Scope
Most of the articles published in TIS's first three volummes tend
to be based on a general enthusiasm for hi-tech development, and
to treat as problematic various policies and social forces that
impeded the broad use of information technologies. But an important
article published in 1985 by editorial board member Professor Richard
Mason signaled a broader range of perspectives beginning to be published.
In "Designing Information Communities: Ethical Issues in the
Information Age" developed an ethical analysis of the ways
that work and benefits are to be allocated among information givers,
takers, and orchestrators, and how these decisions are made. By
1984, some TIS articles examined the possible social problems of
computerization (ie. Kling, 1984; Downs, 1987). Ted Sterling's (1986a)
paper, "Democracy in an Information Society," served as
the focus of a major debate about the possibility that large organizations
would use computerized information systems in ways that weakened
democracy, in their workplaces and in public policymaking (Calhoun,
1986; Clement, 1986; Holzman, 1986; Kling, 1986; Laudon, 1986; Lowi
and Lytel, 1986; Montes, 1986; Schiller, 1986; Sterling, 1986b).
In the mid-1980's TIS articles expanded in scope to include empirical
studies of occupational change and information work. Raul Katz's
(1986) "Measurement and Cross-National Comparisons of the Information
Work Force" examined the development paths of the relative
size of the information workforce in industrialized countries (US,
UK, Australia, and Germany) and in developing countries, (including
Venezuela, Argentina, and Tunisia). Katz's careful study found different
trajectories of growth in the information workforce in different
countries. Katz's article was followed in TIS by Kling's (1990)
study of the mix of good and bad jobs in the restructuring of U.S.
labor markets for information work between 1900 and 1980 which found
that few information sector jobs were fully professional, and clerical
jobs formed the largest single occupational stratum. Kling also
identified a skilled white-collar occupational stratum between clerks
and semiprofessionals and found that it had steadily declined in
relative size. Overall, he found that the information labor markets
were divided into relatively impermeable segments. Kling's study
was one of the few published in TIS's first decade that empirically
examined possible social problems associated with an information
TIS went through several changes in the early 1990's. The journal
was purchased by Taylor & Francis, a distinguished scientific
publishing house based in Great Britain which also has offices in
the United States. Joseph Becker, the founding Editor-in-Chief transferred
his role to Dr. Robert Anderson, a senior computer scientist at
the nonprofit RAND Corporation. Bob Anderson continued to expand
and develop TIS's intellectual scope. Bob added a book review editor
(Dr. Tora Bikson) to the editorial board. Under Joe Becker's editorship,
TIS focused on studies of information policy and large scale social
change. With Tora Bikson's assistance, Bob expanded the range of
articles to include empirical workplace studies of information technology
and social practices (ie., Bikson and Law, 1993; Markus, Bikson,
El-Shinnawy and Soe, 1992; Orlikowski, 1993; Soe and Markus, 1993).
TIS now published articles that ranged in scope from microsocial
An Information Society? From Social Formation to Problematic Under
Bob Anderson's editorship, TIS also published some articles that
fundamentally criticized enthusiastic formulations of the concept
of an "information society". David Ronfeldt's (1992) "Cyberocracy
is Coming" argued that the outcomes of the extensive computerization
of government activities "may include new forms of democratic,
totalitarian, and hybrid governments. Optimism about the information
revolution should be tempered by a constant, anticipatory awareness
of its potential dark side." Tom Forester's (1992) "Megatrends
or Megamistakes? What Ever Happened to the Information Society?"
examined key social forecasts and concluded that most of them "have
gone awry because forecasters have ignored the human factor. There
have been a number of unanticipated problems thrown up by the IT
revolution, most of which involve the human factor. Perhaps it is
time for a major reassessment of the human relationship to technology,
especially the new information and communication technologies. The
technological advances in computing seem to have outpaced the human
ability to make use of them." In "What information society?"
Frank Webster (1994) argued for a fundamental conceptual reformulation
of the concept of an information society. He examined five analytical
criteria - technological, economic, occupational, spatial and cultural
- that are often used to define either information or information
societies. He noted that "most definitions are concerned with
quantitative measures, which fail to consider important qualitative
dimensions of the criteria, although there is the widespread presumption
that quantitative changes in information herald a new type of society,
one qualitatively different from predecessors. Further, proponents
of an information society operate with nonsemantic conceptions of
information. Against this, when information is approached in common
sense terms, then the prospects for an approaching information society
By 1995, TIS had blossomed into a journal that published diverse
high quality studies of the information society as a lens through
which to examine issues of information technology and social change.
The journal published debates (Calhoun, 1986; Clement, 1986; Holzman,
1986; Kling, 1986; Laudon, 1986; Lowi and Lytel, 1986; Montes, 1986;
Schiller, 1986; Sterling 1986a, 1986b; Mowshowitz, 1994a, 1994b;
Walsham, 1994) and analytical book reviews (Allen, 1993; Kling and
Covi, 1993; Mankin, 1993). The journal had become a key forum for
thoughtful analysis of the impacts, policies, system concepts, methodologies
and cultural change stimulated by ways of organizing information
and access to it. TIS had also become multidisciplinary peer-reviewed
journal whose audiences include scholars with an interest in the
relationship between information technologies, social/organizational
life, cultural change, and social change; policy- and decision-makers
in government, industry and education; and managers concerned with
the effects of information technologies on individuals, organizations
Developing TIS into a "Must Read" Journal
In 1995 Rob Kling, Professor of Information and Computer Science
at the University of California at Irvine and a member of TIS's
editorial board since its founding, was appointed as the third Editor-in-Chief
of TIS. He was specially concerned that TIS was known primarily
to a relatively small fraction of the scholars and policy-makers
who could benefit from reading it routinely. When Joe Becker founded
the journal in the late 1970s, the concept of an information society
was primarily of interest to a few scholarly specialists, a handful
of policy-makers, and some hi-tech managers. But the promotion of
National Information Infrastructure, popularly referred to as "information
superhighways," by U.S. President Clinton and Vice President
between 1992 and 1994 radically altered public consciousness in
the industrialized countries. Other countries, such as Singapore,
had developed national information technology plans long before
Clinton and Gore's election in 1992 (see, for example, Komiya, 1989;
Gurbaxani, Kraemer, King, Jarman, Raman, and Yap, 1990). While there
was a great deal of public discussion and debate about these developments
in North America, there was no forum, other than TIS, for reporting
the results of systematic empirical studies and theoretical investigations.
Rob Kling felt that TIS needed a substantial restructuring to raise
it to a new level of visibility. He appointed many new editorial
board members to take an active role in the journal by acting as
active ambassadors by encouraging their colleagues to submit significant
papers for possible publication. The new editorial board members
are also playing active roles by organizing special issues or special
sections of larger issues. He also decentralized authority by enabling
editorial board members to manage complete reviews for potential
TIS articles. For example, Dr. Tora Bikson helped organize a special
section of TIS 11(3) that included three important articles about
the complexities of supporting group work with computer systems.
And Prof. Rolf Wigand is organizing a special issue on electronic
commerce. (Special issues are also being organized by people who
do not serve on the editorial board).
In addition to publishing scholarly articles, Rob Kling also encouraged
the publication of debates in TIS. He organized issue 11(4) to focus
on the roles of electronic journals as reliable media for scholarly
communication. The issue features a major debate between Steven
Harnad (Editor-in-Chief of an electronic journal, Psycoloquy) and
Steve Fuller (Editor-in-Chief of Social Epistemology) (Fuller, 1995a,1995b;
Harnad, 1995a 1995b) as well as other articles that examine electronic
publishing and scholarly communications from diverse perspectives
(Brent, 1995; Kling and Covi, 1995; Rowland, 1995; Stodolsky, 1995).
Rob Kling also created a new format for TIS, "The Forum,"
which publish shorter "position statements" and debates."
Francois Harvey and Ben Gross organized a Forum for TIS 12(1) on
the recent "Durango Declarations" that articulate pro-social
criteria for developing National Information Infrastructures. Prof.
Jim Thomas organized a Forum for TIS 12(2) about the nature of ethical
practices in collecting social science data in electronic forums,
such as Usenet newsgroups, LISTSERVs, and MUDDs. Editorial Board
member Prof. Mark Poster organized a Forum debate for TIS 12(3)
about the recent "Magna Carta for Cyberspace" that was
written by Alvin Toffler, George Keyworth, George Gilder, and Esther
Rob Kling is also increasing the number of books that are reviewed
in TIS. He appointed two book review editors, Lisa Covi and Wayne
Lutters, to help identify key books, identify reviewers and manage
the reviews. For example, TIS 11(4) includes reviews of three books:
Linda Harasim's "Global Networks," Richard Lanham's "The
Electronic Word: Democracy, Technology, and the Arts" and Sven
Birkerts' "The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an
Electronic Age". TIS 12(1) includes reviews of five books:
"The Trouble with Computers: Usefulness, Usability, and Productivity,"
by T.K. Landauer;
"Fatal Defect: Chasing Killer Computer Bugs," by Ivan
Peterson; "Computer-Related Risks," by Peter Neumann;
"Safeware: Systems Safety and Computers," by Nancy Leveson;
"Computer Technology and Social Issues," by G. David Garson;
and "Does Technology Drive History?: The Dilemma of Technological
Determinism," edited by Merrit Smith and Leo Marx.
Last, Rob Kling created a World Wide Web home page for TIS (currently tis.iu.edu)
that can serve as a source where authors and readers can obtain
up-to-date information about the journal, including announcements
of forthcoming issues, article abstracts, and paper calls for special
issues. The nature of the materials that can appear on this web
page, such as the whole texts of selected articles and abstracts
of all articles, is under discussion with TIS's publisher, Taylor
Rob Kling anticipates that this collection of innovations will
help make TIS into a journal that many more scholars and professionals
feel they must read routinely to keep up with the best studies and
fresh commentaries about shifting information environments and social
Thanks to Bob Anderson and Richard O. Mason for help in reconstructing
Allen, Jonathan P. Review of "Microcomputers in African development:
critical perspectives" The Information Society, 9(3)(1993):
Anderson, Robert. 1995. "In Memoriam: for Joseph Becker, founding
Editor-in-Chief of TIS." TIS 11(4):
Bikson, Tora K. and S.A. Law. 1993. Electronic mail use at the
World Bank: Messages from users. The Information Society 9(2) (Apr-Jun):89-124.
Brent, Doug. 1995. "Stevan Harnad's "Subversive Proposal":
Kick-Starting Electronic Scholarship, A Summary and Analysis."
The Information Society. 11(4):
Calhoun, Craig. 1986. "Comments on 'Democracy in an information
society'" The Information Society, 4(1/2):115-122.
Case, Donald and Everett Rogers. 1987. The Adoption and Social
Impacts of Information Technology in U.S. Agriculture. The Information
Clement, Andrew. 1986. "Comments on 'Democracy in an information
society'" The Information Society, 4(1/2):109-113.
Downs, E. 1987. A Contextual View of Development Information Technology.
The Information Society 5(2):119-132.
East, Harry. 1983. Information Technology and the Problems of Less
Developed Countries. The Information Society 2(1):53-64.
Forester, Tom. 1992. Megatrends or Megamistakes? What Ever Happened
to the Information Society? The Information Society 8(3) (Jul-Sep):133-146.
Fuller, Steve. 1995a. "CyberPlatonism: An Inadequate Constitution
for the Republic of Science." The Information Society. 11(4):
Fuller, Steve. 1995b. "Cybermaterialism, Or Why There Is Not
A Free Lunch in Cyberspace." The Information Society. 11(4):
Gray, John C. 1983. Information-Policy Problems in Developing Countries.
The Information Society 2(1):81-89.
Gurbaxani, Vijay, Kenneth L. Kraemer, John Leslie King, Sheryl
Jarman, K.S. Raman, and C.S. Yap. 1990. Government as the Driving
Force Toward the Information Society: National Computer Policy in
Singapore. The Information Society 7(2):155-185.
Harnad, Stevan. 1995a. "The Postgutenberg Galaxy: How To Get
There From Here." The Information Society. 11(4):
Harnad, Stevan. 1995b. "Sorting the Esoterica From the Exoterica:
There's Plenty of Room in Cyberspace." The Information Society.
Holzman, David L. 1986. "Comments on 'Democracy in an information
society': computers and common sense" The Information Society,
Katz, Raul L. 1986. Measurement and Cross-National Comparisons
of the Information Work Force. The Information Society 4(4):231-277.
Kling, Rob. 1984. Value Conflicts in Public-Oriented Computing
Developments. The Information Society 3(1):1-38.
Kling, Rob. 1986. "The Struggle for Democracy in an Information
Society" The Information Society 4(1/2)(1986):1-7.
Kling, Rob. 1990. More Information, Better Jobs?: Occupational
Stratification and Labor-Market Segmentation in the United States'
Information Labor Force. The Information Society 7(2)(1990):77-107.
Kling, Rob and Lisa Covi. 1993. Review of Lee Sproull and Sara
Kiesler "Connections: new ways of working in the networked
organization" The Information Society, 9(2):
Kling, Rob and Lisa Covi. 1995."Electronic Journals, Legitimate
Media and Scholarly Communication." The Information Society.
Komiya, Megumi. 1989. The Japanese Computer Industry: An Industrial
Policy Analysis. The Information Society 6(1/2) (1989):1-20.
Laudon, Kenneth C. 1986. "Comments on 'Democracy in an information
society': the dossier society" The Information Society, 4(1/2):87-89.
Li, Tiger. 1990. Computer-Mediated Communications and the Chinese
Students in the U.S. The Information Society 7(2):125-137.
Lowi, Theodore J. and David Lytel. 1986. "Comments on 'Democracy
in an information society': making it a real revolution" The
Information Society, 4(1/2):91-99.
Mankin, Donald. 1993. Review of Peter G.W. Keen, "Shaping
the future: business design through information technology"
The Information Society, 9(1)(1993):61-69.
Markus, M Lynne, Tora K. Bikson, Maha El-Shinnawy and Louise L.
Soe. 1992. Fragments of your communication: Email, Vmail and fax.
The Information Society v8, n4 (Oct-Dec):207-226.
Mason, Richard O. 1985. Designing Information Communities: Ethical
Issues in the Information Age. The Information Society 3(3):229-239.
Montes, Felix. 1986. "Comments on 'Democracy in an information
society': prospects for the era of computing -- a critical analysis"
The Information Society, 4(1/2):65-85.
Mowshowitz, Abbe. 1994a. Virtual organization: A vision of management
in the information age. The Information Society 10(4) (Oct-Dec):267-288.
Mowshowitz, Abbe. 1994b. Reply to Walsham's critique. The Information
Narasimhan, R. 1983. The Socioeconomic Significance of Information
Technology to Developing Countries. The Information Society 2(1):65-79.
Okamura, Kazuo, Masayo Fujimoto, Wanda J. Orlikowski, and JoAnne
Yates. 1995. "Helping CSCW Applications Succeed: The Role of
Mediators in the Context of Use." The Information Society 11(3):
Orlikowski, Wanda J. 1993. Learning from notes: Organizational
issues in groupware implementation. The Information Society v9,
Ronfeldt, David. 1992. Cyberocracy is coming. The Information Society
Rowland, Fytton. 1995. "Electronic Journals: Neither Free
Nor Easy." The Information Society. 11(4):
Samarajiva, Rohan. 1989. Appropriate High Tech: Scientific Communication
Options for Small Third World Countries. The Information Society
Schiller, Herbert I. 1986. "Comments on 'Democracy in an information
society'" The Information Society, 4(1/2):123-126.
Soe, Louise L and M. Lynne Markus. 1993. Technological or social
utility? Unraveling explanations of email, vmail and fax use. The
Information Society v9, n3 (Jul-Sep):213-236.
Sterling, Ted. 1986a. "Democracy in an Information Society,"
The Information Society. 4(1/2):9-048.
Sterling, Ted D. 1986b. "Democracy in an information society:
a rejoinder" The Information Society, 4(1/2):127-143.
Stodolsky, David. 1995. "Consensus Journals: Invitational
Journals Based Upon Peer Review." The Information Society.
Turner, John A. 1986. "Comments on 'Democracy in an information
society': the difficulty of projecting impacts from trajectories
of emerging technologies" The Information Society, 4(1/2):53-63.
Walsham, Geoff. 1994. Virtual organization: An alternative view.
The Information Society 10(4)(Oct-Dec):289-292.
Webster, Frank. 1994. What information society?The Information
Society v10, n1 (Jan-Mar):1-23.
Young, Elizabeth L. and Louis A. Bransford. 1983. Telecommunications
in Rural America: An Appraisal and a Prediction. The Information