TOWARDS AN INFORMATION ECOLOGY

 
Rafael Capurro


 

Contribution to the NORDINFO International seminar "Information and Quality", Royal School of Librarianship, Copenhagen, 23-25 August 1989. Proceedings: I. Wormell ed.: Information Quality. Definitions and Dimensions. London, Taylor Graham 1990, p. 122-139. 

 
 

Contents

Introduction   
I. Towards a Theory of Information Ecology   
II. Towards a Pragmatics of Information Ecology   
III. Some Proposals for Action   
IV. First Comments   

Notes and References   
Bibliography   
Acknowledgements  

 

 
  

Abstract 

The paper discusses some problems of an information ecology. These arise within information rich societies but also in the interaction with information poor societies. These questions are being considered from a theoretical as well as from a practical perspective. From a theoretical perspective emphasis is made on the social character of information as the measure for its ecological quality, as well as on the linguistic (criticability, tacit dimension and partiality) and historical dimensions of information. These dimensions allow a specific definition of the concept of information pollution. The increasing gap between information rich and poor countries is analyzed. Some suggestions for future action are made.

  
 
 
 

Introduction


Information is power - for good, for bad. In a world of violence, poverty, and ecological crisis on the one side, as well as of peace movements, industrial productivity and scientific-technological development on the other, the production, storage, exchange, diffusion, selection and use of information has also become a key issue (1).    

In the same way as we live not only from nature but also within it, we can say that our lives, as individuals as well as parts of different kinds of social systems, are dependent on the knowledge we share with others, as well as on the ways we make profit of it, i.e. on information. To consider nature just as a resource or as something we could (and should) transform without previously thinking on the consequences not only for ourselves but for the balance of life in this planet, has proved to be an irrational and irresponsible way of action. It is therefore time to ask ourselves on the consequences of our thinking and doing not only with regard to nature but also to the technologies we are using to manipulate ourselves. These are of two kinds: the biotechnology and the information technology. Modern information technology plays a major role in the process of shaping not only the ways we communicate but also all aspects of our individual and social life.   

This is the premise of the Institute for Information and Communication Ecology (Institut für Informations- und Kommunikationsökologie, IKÖ) (2) founded this year in the Federal Republic of Germany. The whole complexity condensed in the title information and communication ecology can be appreciated by looking first at the list of subject-oriented groups already established: telematics, telecommunication policy and telecommunication industry work control, security media policy, culture private sphere education medicine and health positive and negative influence of IT on nature.   

The institute promotes also interdisciplinary discussions in the following fields: big technologies, crossing frontiers and new convergences, basic research on communication ecology technology, life-world, resistance women and technology, feminist criticisms of technology economic and economic-political aspects of information and communication technologies.  

The institute is not only a forum for scientific research but also a focus for political action in order to contribute responsibly to the protection of the sociosphere. With the following reflections I would like to concentrate attention on two questions:  

1) what are the challenges to be faced by a society (a nation or a group of nations) in which knowledge and its communication is being shaped more and more by information technologies?  

2) what are the challenges of the global interaction between information poor and information rich societies?   

Particularly since the so-called information revolution, knowledge is being considered more and more as a resource, to be exploited, i.e., produced, transformed and used in the same way as the industrial exploitation of material resources. In other words, knowledge in the shape of information no longer has primarily the function of a public good, with a high utility value, like water or air, but has also become a commodity with a corresponding exchange value. The industrial process of reducing goods with utility value to goods with exchange value was particularly aggressive in the 19th century. It involved a step by step dissolution of the dimension of utility value, and the reduction of the evaluating subject to a function of the exchange value. This process is also known, particularly in the sphere of culture and moral values, as nihilism.   

One possible response to this development was the Marxist one. It consisted in the intent to recuperate the utility value, by considering social work and not the costs, as the fundamental principle for the determination of value. This theory presupposes, at least in its pure form, a totalitarian perspective of society and history, which has been more and more the subject of criticism recently, also within socialist countries. This does not mean, I think, carte blanche for classical capitalism but a chance for a new form of pluralism.   

It is in this sense that the French philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard considers databanks to be the form into which postmodern knowledge is represented after the desintegration of ideological "meta-stories" (3). This is, I think, a particularly interesting starting point since it regards the desintegration of political (ideological) and/or philosophical forms of legitimating the whole field of knowledge not as something necessarily negative, but as an opportunity. In order to see it in this way, two conditions are necessary: 1) general access to data banks, and 2) development of the capacity of playing with different kinds of languages (in the sense of Wittgenstein's "Sprachspiele"), but without reducing the different social interests to a particular one (4). In other words, the dissolution of the ideal of a global practical and/or theoretical control of knowledge, not only with regard to its content but also with regard to the process of production, exchange and use, can be considered as a challenge for new ways of symbolic exchange in a pluralistic society. That is, I think, the main point to be considered ecologically within so-called information-rich societies, as well as with regard to 'global' interactions.   

The following reflections are in many regards one sided and they do not pretend to give an exhaustive view, not even of the two questions already mentioned. They are just an attempt to see some of the opportunities and risks in this field and to offer some criteria for its qualification. I begin with some hints on what can be called a theory of information ecology and make, as a second step, some suggestions for action.  
 

I. Towards a Theory of Information Ecology

The dissolution of the unity of knowledge and its becoming an exchange value are ecological dangers if we react by trying to impose a pure (!) political control or by regarding passively their marketing process. In both cases we are losing the chance of potential pluralism which this technology offers. This pluralism does not imply that with the electronic shaping of communication all other formal (for instance printing) and informal ways of human interaction are surmounted or obsolete. This is indeed one kind of pluralism to be ecologically protected and promoted. An information ecology does not have the easy task of saying: information technologies are per se of a uniform nature. Let us save the traditional value of, for instance, books. This kind of oppositions (books vs. information technology) fails, I think, to see the complexity and potential plurality within the technological shaping of knowledge representation and diffusion. But, on the other side, there is the open question, of how an interaction between different ways of communication can be organized, in order to be aware not only of the opportunities but also of the limitations inherent in each possibility, be it a technological one or not. If we do not pose this question, then we will have sooner or later, as in the case of non-responsible action towards nature, huge problems of information pollution. This is a concept I would like to investigate by considering first some of the characters or dimensions we can attribute to the information phenomenon.  

1) The social dimension. We have been used to considering information as something that just exists in our lives, as the atmosphere of a democratic society. But information is not a triviality. It has taken three hundred years to open written knowledge to vast sectors of society. This was not only a technical but also an educational as well as a socio-political process. We need, as at the time of the Enlightenment, a creative educational and cultural policy in our field. As with other fundamental human rights it is not enough to develop an ecological or even an ethical theory on them (or to put them in a declaration) but it is necessary to cultivate practical judgement concerning possible alternatives of action (5).  

2) The linguistic dimension. The social character of information implies, secondly, the linguistic dimension. Language is not something added to society, but it is its very essence, i.e. our way of being. Some characteristics of linguistic information are: a) its criticability, b) its tacit dimension, and c) its partiality.   

a) There is no pure information (as there are no pure facts) but information is always relative to a theoretical and/or practical pre-understanding. It remains always something we can criticize (and not just retrieve) - if we have learned (individually and socially) how to do it. We are responsible for this awareness.   

b) Information is necessarily blind, i.e., we are responsible for the information we produce and use (6). This tacit dimension cannot be objectivised. This is particularly important in the case of expert systems (7).   

c) Whereas modernity aimed at a systematic view of knowledge, we, at the end of modernity, are aware of its partial character. In other words, we are responsible for an open or fragile unity, taking into account the plurality of languages (cultural plurality, plurality of points of view etc.) (8).   

3) The historical dimension. Information as a social phenomenon implies, thirdly, the awareness of its" historical dimension. The electronic revolution is neither the beginning of a paperless society nor it is a necessary historical step to be fulfilled by all countries and in the same way in the future. It is just a possibility, to be responsibly inserted within the richness of the past and the constraints of the present (9). The alternative is not between rejection or information colonialism but between different kinds of cultural and technical information mixtures -  information is half-breed (10).   

  

II. Towards a Pragmatics of Information Ecology

On the basis of these categorial analysis it is possible, I think, to define the concept of information pollution, as a basic pragmatic concept of an information ecology. I suggest to consider it at the two levels I mentioned at the beginning: within information rich societies and with regard to global interactions.
 

1. Towards an information ecology within information-rich societies 

The key ecological issue concerning the production, storage, accessibility, selection and use of all kinds of knowledge is then, I believe, the preservation and increase of its social character (11).  Responsibility towards this character is one ecological measure, one measure for the ecological quality of our field. From this perspective we have to afford two kinds of ecological problems: first, a monolithic control of the state upon the information technologies and/or upon the contents of the messages, and secondly, the unbounded transformation of information into an exchange value. In other words, we should strive to see and establish differences between the necessary role of the state in preserving the right of general access to information, whereas on the other side we must preserve our rights as individuals from centralised political and/or market control.   

This is a crucial ecological point, for instance, in the case of the German ISDN-Net (a step-by-step integration of different transmission networks for text, speech and images) one crucial ecological point, as it is being highlighted by Kubicek (12). According to Kubicek, the immanent ecological dangers of such a centralized system are:   

  • the possibility of a total breakdown, 
  • the weakness of the system against physical violence, 
  • the possibility of software manipulation. 
Kubicek suggests the creation telecommunication systems with a limited range of options and possibilities. We should be careful not only with regard to the problems of data protection but also with the transformation of our homes into parts of the electronic marketplace. We must put limits to the expansion of non-controllable technical systems, for instance through decentralisation, through a differentiation of interest (or user) groups, as well as through the creation of specific legal norms. In other words, we must afford the ecological problems of uniformation which reduces the chances of plurality inherent to this technology. We can call this kind of information pollution, as it depends on the power or control on information, the power pollution.   

With regard to the linguistic dimension, I would suggest we call the problem message pollution. Information technologies are able to disseminate an incredible abundance of messages, without making explicit the contexts they arise from (there are no pure facts), the blindness of their own limitations, and the specific kind of partiality they are supposed to have. Human beings are more and more the victims or targets of a superabundance of messages (this is also the case within information-poor countries with regard to mass media). Umberto Eco has already pointed out, that the battle to be undertaken in this field should be considered primarily not as a strategic affair but as a matter of tactics (13). We can indeed try to rule the communication process at the level of the source or of the channel. But in neither one case nor in the other would we be influencing the message, i.e., the linguistic dimension. This happens only in the light of the codes at the destination. In other words, messages change their meaning according to the presuppositions of the interpreter, to his preunderstanding. Here, in the chairs in front of our TV sets and in front of every terminal, is where the linguistic battle takes place. This battle has not the scope as Eco rightly remarks, for leaving the information circle in which we are embedded. It is a question of how we prepare ourselves to cope with this situation, in order to control plurality through qualified interpretation. Eco suggests something that he calls the "cultural guerrilla", and he means, for instance, the possibility of using one medium to criticise another one. This is something we are already doing: newspaper articles criticise TV programmes, TV discussions criticise books, and so on. Other possibilities are those of "mass dissent": that is, I think, a field where we could be more creative, organizing alternative networks and services, particularly for helping marginal groups inside or outside our societies, by offering international aid, by supporting peace and solidarity movements, etc. I believe that the field of scientific and technical information would also profit from this view: the artificial alternative between state support and/or private industry is only one segment of a plurality of alternative possibilities for different kinds of user groups. The currently one-sided view towards industry as the main user of electronic information is monomanic and distorts the potentialities of information technology. This is also the reason, I think, for a distortion of the question of the economic value of information, where this value is primarily measured from the viewpoint of industrial users.   

The last point I should like to mention concerns what I called the historical dimension. Our field is full of futurological ideas, some of them planing the next millenium (14). We can pollute ourselves with all kinds of utopias, which lead us nowhere, or, more precisely, to abandon the responsibility for evaluating risks and chances of co-ordinating different possibilities for designing our knowledge universe and its channels, taking into account their specific quality The slogan of a paperless society is an expression of historical pollution in our field. It is time, I think, to abandon the mode of technological grandiloquence and to look for more humble, i.e.. more specific ways of establishing the limits of this expanding technology, and to act responsible, conforming to the possibilities these limits offer! To see limits not as something negative but as the condition for plurality and interaction is a key point for the future of a technological society, i.e., for the insertion of technology within the complex of other traditions. This is of course not a plea for neo-conservativism. As it is an illusion to think of a pure technological society, it is also an illusion to believe that there is something like pure nature or an ideal communication we should conform to (or we could create artificially).   

A more realistic view takes into account that there is no ideal harmony between human beings, no possibility of a perfect language for understanding and action, and that we are always confronted with misunderstanding and non-communication. Human communication is not just an object for technical manipulation nor it is something mystical. Information technology is not necessarily a pollution instrument nor it is an ideal artificial limb. We can profit from its own (!) potentialities if we are able to integrate it within the complexity of human communication. If we develop one-sided media, then we should not forget, that human communication is double-tracked. If we isolate pieces of knowledge, then we should not forget that they get their meaning from specific situations and particularly from the receiver's code. If we distribute knowledge through different technical channels, then we should not forget the right to a general participation in societal knowledge. If we handle knowledge with machines, then we should not forget that human beings are not robots or flesh machines.   

To close one's eyes to these (and other) ecological questions of the information society means to forget our responsibility in designing tools - the responsibility that, in designing tools we are designing "ways of being" (15).  Information tools are, or should be, primarily people's tools. The information technology opens us its potentialities if and only if we are able to interrelate it with the whole of its social dimensions. It is indeed an opportunity, maybe the opportunity for preserving and increasing social understanding, within as well as between different countries and cultures which belong to one world (16).   
  

2. Towards a global information ecology 

Under a global perspective, the question of information pollution can be stated as the problem of the gap between information-rich and information-poor nations.   

It is, I think, a common view, that differences of races, religions, ideas, money etc. should be surmounted not by an ideology of egalitarianism but by giving individuals, as well as nations, similar chances of development, on the basis of equal rights and duties. The information difference, i.e., the difference between the information-poor and the information-rich has not been considered to be such a key issue as, for example, the economic one. One reason for this omission is that the gap has been growing slowly during that last three hundreds years. The advent of electronic technology has explicitly provided the question of dominance and accessibility to written knowledge, and it has made clear that this a key issue for the economic and cultural development of nations.   

From this perspective to ask for the relations between Information and Quality means to ask for the ecological quality of the information field, for us the information-rich as well as for others, the information-poor. One key issue of an information ecology is to criticize this gap, theoretically and practically.   

The powerful electronic technology has produced a change in the knowledge atmosphere, creating regions of prosperity, but leaving aside vast amounts of human beings in a high degree of ignorance and/or informational dependency. The gap between the information-poor and the information-rich, and not the overproduction of knowledge (there can never be too much knowledge) is the real information crisis we have to master. We, who are on the side of the information-rich, must ask ourselves what we are doing, for instance, in preserving the information market to become a closed market, i.e., a pollution factor for the outsiders and for ourselves (Matthew-principle). The crucial question is then not only the one of overcoming cultural or linguistic barriers, but of facing the dilemma produced by new forms of information colonialism on the one side, as well as by the possibilities of scientific and cultural interrelations opened by this technology on the other. The ecological challenge in our field is to find the right balance between overcoming and preserving or, in other words, between the blessings of universality and the need for preserving plurality (of cultures, languages, etc.) not only for its own sake (variety is beautiful!) but also because human problems and solutions always arise within specific situations and need specific deliberation.   

Two international proposals have been presented so far for a pragmatical treatment of an information ecology: the MacBride-Report and EUSIDIC's Codes of Practice.   

As Surprenant states (17) one can approach the MacBride-Report from opposite sides: a) as a product of the U.N. ideology, particularly in the field of journalism, or b) as an attempt to consider the whole field of information (and communication) not primarily under economical (information as a commodity) but under a global social perspective (information as a social good and cultural product). From this latter viewpoint the ecological crisis in our field becomes manifest, as for instance in case of problems of autonomous communication and information capacities, of rural areas without any technical and/or educational infrastructure, of lack of paper (and, of course, of any other kind of hard- and software), of one-sided commercialisation of information products, of cultural and technical colonialism through the distribution of information products and channels etc. In  the case, for example, of scientific-technical information this dependency can (and has) become dramatic due to the acceleration of knowledge production and of its distribution through electronic means. This leads to lost of competitiveness, exodus of scientists, low level of education, and so on. The more information is produced, the bigger the gap. To this kind of information pollution we must add the question of contents, sources, distribution centers, fees, protectionist information policies etc.   

In sum, as Surprenant states:   

"The whole concept of "free flow" of information needs to be reevaluated without the present confusion and meaningless rhetoric. Free flow does not necessarily mean unfettered flow. There is a real need to identify the sovereign rights of all nations in the sphere of information along with a recognition of the international needs for the collection, transmission, and use of certain categories. Here we need a great deal of discussion and compromise at the highest level of international policy making." (18)  

In this international and ecological context the problems of data protection are, of course, crucial. As we are rethinking our views on political boundaries with regard to air and water pollution, we must start considering the question of information pollution particularly from a cultural, political and legal point of view (dominance, manipulation, criminal actions). The benefits and threats of the (mis)use of information technologies must become part of international (ethical and legal) deliberation.   

EUSIDIC's Codes of Practice are a product of the European Association of Information Services. Nevertheless they are, I think, an attempt to establish general or international rules for fair play in our field. Some of these rules are the expression of ethical dilemmas, i.e., its application is a matter of ethical (and legal) control or deliberation. Viewing them from the fact that the information industry (databases, hosts, telecommunications, electronic hard- and software) is in the hands of the information-rich countries, some of these rules are de facto one-sided: they presuppose an ideal situation of equal chances and offer a kind of Münchhausen solution to the information gap, like a one-way bridge. Some examples:  

    • Database and databank producers: (1.2) Items should be included in, or excluded from, the database in strict compliance with the stated policy. Selection should not be influenced by economic, operational, ideological or other such considerations.
    • Host services: (2.2) No user should be denied access to any given host or the services offered by that host providing the users comply with contractual arrangements freely entered and meet the necessary technical requirements in terms of terminals and communication facilities.
    • Telecommunications: (3.2) EUSIDIC considers that if data network services required cannot for any reason be provided by public Administration, physical or legal obstacles should not be placed in the way of other bodies offering to provide the required service or services. 
As Neelameghan stated, "equal access to information to everyone does not ensure equal benefit to everyone" (19). Other dimensions (purpose, user's characteristics, application environment, medium of information transfer, quality, time of availability, cost of access) should be therefore ecologically considered, if we want to face the problems arising from the information gap.   
  

III. Some Proposals for Action

What can we do? I would like to suggest some possibilities we could pursue further more intensively:  
   
  • To promote (further) regional as well as world-wide discussions on information ecology, in order to improve the awareness that the trivial fact: we all live in the same one (information) world may become a real factor for national and international information policy. The problem of "balkanization" (Anderla) of libraries and information services is not only a European but a world one (20).
  • The paradigm of modern information technology is one (not the only!) factor of the vast cultural problem of knowledge storage and accessibility in all its fields and forms (21). The question is not how can we get everyone to use a PC, or an international database or whatever, but what are the most necessary things to do in the information poor countries and how can we help them in order to promote their identity in the fields of information production, distribution and use (22). 
  • The promotion of the (European) information market is neither a surrogate nor a substitute for our own responsibility to creating forms of generalized social access to electronic information (people's systems), similar to the creation of public libraries during the last three centuries. It is necessary, I think, to imagine and test practical connections between the two paradigms (23). 
  • Learning how to use databases is not only a technical but primarily a problem of social hermeneutics (= the ability to ask critical questions, instead of just believing what is written or programmed or stored (24). Computer masking is a very serious task as it establishes forms of social (pre-)understanding and interaction (25).
  • Some information-poor countries will probably never be able to pay their information debts. We must start a vast initiative for opening our knowledge stores (not only the electronic ones!) through mutual giving and receiving of information, of course - and not primarily money -  as one way to stop the emigration of scientists from information poor-countries making the gap deeper and deeper. This sounds utopian but maybe it could become (partially) true (26). 
  • We must support all kinds of educational activities in order to increase the awareness concerning the dimensions of the national and international problems and opportunities offered by information technology to the socialization of information. 
  • We should create international working groups in the library and information science field in closed cooperation with related fields (informatics, social sciences) in order to discuss these matters and propose concrete solutions. 
Only a realistic view of the problems of the present ecological crisis in our field, not the ideal (or ideology) of an information superculture, can help, at least partially, to surmount it.  
  

IV. First comments

The ideas in this paper were discussed and criticised during the NORDINFO Seminar. I would like to thank all the colleagues who participated at the discussions, and indicate some of their  theoretical and/or practical comments.   
  
  • The term information pollution should be considered as the negative side of the information balance to be achieved. 
  • Some examples of information pollution are: wrong (or outdated) data, incompatibility of systems and languages, under-use of hardware, hacking, viruses, addressing systems to the wrong 'epistemic who', lack of responsibility of software suppliers.
  • Information balance implies: re-use, recycling, free-flow, intelligent systems or, generally speaking, optimizing man's use of information and knowledge. 
  • Information is an artificial resource and it is basically social-dependent. 
  • We should try to think more specifically on the question to which information ecology is (or could be) the (or one) answer.
  • The ecology of the information landscape has to take basically into account the managerial (or bottom line) perspective of information. Handling information like other goods (according to its 'exchange value') does not necessarily means to forget its social dimension. Different levels of circulation and different quality measures should be integrated. A narrow-minded economic view damages (in the long term) itself. 
  • These ideas should be further discussed at the international level for instance within the FID. 
Herbert Kubicek made some written comments to my paper which I would like to mention briefly: a distinction should be made between data pollution and information pollution - at present we have to face data pollution while many groups in our society do not get appropriate information; we should stress the difference between information (and its production) and information technology - information deficits are not necessarily surmounted thanks to (more) technology; the (my) plea for pluralism is not enough if we take into account the dimensions of subjectivity and contextuality which are the determinants of a pragmatic information concept. The question of power must be clearly addressed.  

 

 
   

Notes and References


(1) Capurro, 1985, 1986, 1988.  

(2) The IKÖ-Institute was founded in 1989. Its provisional address is: Wittener-Str. 139, 4600 Dortmund 1 (Directors: H. Kubicek, H. Wagner).  

(3) See Lyotard (1979). For a discussion of the role of the information technologies within the framework of postmodern philosophy see Welsch (1987) and my criticisms (1991), (1988/89). See also my comments on G. Vattimo's "The End of Modernity" (1989).   

(4) See Lyotard (1983).  

(5) See Capurro (1988).  

(6) See Winograd/Flores (1986).  

(7) See Wormell (1987) and Capurro (1988a) and (1988b).  

(8) See Capurro (1989).  

(9) See Larsen (1988) and Van Peer (1988).  

(10) See Salem (1988) p. 129: "And, in addition to the devastating problem of poverty, many other intrincate issues are surfacing in today's communities such as, inter alia, the different ethnic groups in a multi-cultural society, and the serious health and social problems. These problems persist in most African and Asian states that have gained their independence from the yoke of colonialism in the last few decades."   

(11) See Boland/Hirschheim (1987).  

(12) See Kubicek (1989).  

(13) See Eco (1986).  

(14) See Bezold and Olsen (1986).  

(15) See Winograd and Flores (1986) and my review (1987). On AI and ethics see my (1988a). For a criticism of Winograd/Flores see my (1990a).  

(16) See the "MacBride-Report" as well as Surprenant (1985) p. 19: "The nations of the world have a unique opportunity to create and share information for the benefit of all. If this occasion is missed, we will fall short on one aspect of the potential of mankind to increase the quality of life on this planet."  


(17) See Surprenant (1985).  

(18) Surprenant (1985) p. 19, See also Thorpe (1984) p. 213: "An inherent danger of the new information technology is that the information gap between the industrialized North and the developing countries of the South may become even greater."  

(19) See Neelameghan (1981), p. 14.  

(20) See Anderla (1988) p. 11.  

(21) See Surprenant (1987) p. 47: "The United States, Japan and other developed countries are rapidly developing the component parts of this information superculture and there has been an almost naive assumption that all other nations will fall in line and cooperate because it is in their best to do so."   

(22) See Salem (1988) p. 129: "Aid packages should therefore be grant to the Third World countries in terms of integrated environments. A particular information environment should be developed in its entirety, inclusive of the user, technology, software, hardware, and the pertinent, available and organized information.  

(23) See Anderla (1988). See also Capurro (1988) and (1988c)  

(24) See Ingwersen/Wormell (1988), Beagle (1988), Schrader (1988), Neill (1987), Capurro (1986) and (1989). Computer masking is a very serious task as it establishes forms of socia pre-understanding and interaction. See Azubuike (1988).  

25) See Azubuike (1988)  

(26) See Krevitt Eres (1985) and Slamecka (1985) p. 182: "The rate at which the potential of information technology is realized in the developing countries will depend not only on their policy makers, but also on the adaptivity of their peoples, the methodology of applications, the attention and assistance offered by the informatic sectors and the governments of industrialized countries, as well as on the extent to which the generic issues of development is approached from a global viewpoint." 
 


 

 
    
  

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Acknowledgements

I want to thank Mrs. Irene Wormell (Royal School of Librarianship, Copenhagen)  for her helpful comments on the first version of this paper.  
  
 
Last Update: May 28, 2011
   
 
 
    

Copyright © 1999 by Rafael Capurro, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of U.S. and international copyright law, and it may be archived and redistributed in electronic form, provided that the author is notified and no fee is charged for access. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the consent of the author.     
 

 
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