BOOK AND SOFTWARE REVIEWS
Saulles, Martin de Information 2.0: New models of information production, distribution and consumption. London: Facet Publishing, 2012. x, 143 p. ISBN 9781 8560 4754 8. £49.95.
I regard very suspiciously any book with "2.0" in the title! This number that once seemed so inoffensive has proliferates with the speed of a worst pest. Partly, it might be the fault of the marketing staff, not authors. Who can resist an argument like: "Oh, New models of information production? This is so boring, nobody will by a book with this title. We need something that sells. What about Information 2.0?" Never mind that it does not mean anything, but it looks good printed in big white letters on the background of any colour.
In fact the book is about the modes of information production, distribution and consumption at the time when all of us living in affluent modern societies have tools and skills to interact with a number of new tools, services and resources, when big companies harvest the minds and data of the citizens with their happy approval in exchange for something desirable provided right now and here.
The author is serious enough to make someone acquainted with the issues of modern information to continue reading this teaching book and enjoy its light style, but good intellectual spirit. I would recommend using it in class to enliven the discussions among the students about a number of interesting issues in different classes – library science, information management, publishing, web design, archival science, cultural heritage, social or mass media, etc. The very general approach to the issues of information production, distribution and consumption makes it suitable for many different disciplines. This is an attractive feature of the book, not a shortcoming at all, especially as it encourages critical thinking with regard to our own behaviour, the events, and actors of the online world.
The younger generation will recognize the tools, their own obsessions, communication patterns, the symbols and names of the companies and actors they trust. The more mature information specialists will relate to the references to known scholars and their works, will recognize the issues of their debates and fears, situations they find themselves in, or get support to their own ideas.
Apart from introduction and conclusion the book consists only of four chapters that roughly follow the structure of the life-cycle of information products: production, storage, distribution, consumption. The very terminology points to the emphasis on commercial information activities, but it is quite deceptive because the author describes and discusses different non-profit, open access and governmental initiatives on the web. Moreover, he reveals the threats posed by the over-commercializing and over-controlling of the virtual spaces and the web at large. Thus, despite being quite short in terms of pages and quite wide in terms of covered issues, the book is far from simplistic or shallow. It treats the limited number of interesting problems in a serious, but attractive manner.
So, despite the suspicious title I have found the book interesting and useful. However, there is another point to think before buying it – the price. For a person with the frame of reference in East European currency, £50.00 for this book would seem as an exorbitant price. The library will have it, though I cannot bet on it in our present financial climate, but the very essence of the content suggests an e-book for a price that would be affordable by students.