Anthropology in the Information Society

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Anthropology of Information Society


Some of the problems related to the development of the Information Society are by no means deeply rooted in cultural appreciation of information of different content, originating from various sources, and presented in different forms. Factors like the distribution of power, the structure of kinship, prevailing system of values as well as many others influence the way in which information is distributed across the members of some particular society. One the main differences which occur among cultures is the one related to the way of information structuring, meaning that different cultures will utilize different ways of "knowledge management" according to the source and recipient of some information, the way it is presented, its form and content.

These observations lead us to conclusion that a new, fruitful branch of sciences concerned with culture, anthropology in the first place, could be developed, which would not only reside on research of Information Society in the context of the ongoing revolution in Information and Communication Technologies, but which could pose fundamental questions of information management in different cultures, regardless of the media utilized in particular cases. This fundamental orientation of such a discipline, which we may call the Anthropology of Information Society, is a very important constitutive step, since the management and distribution of information across cables and networks will not fundamentally change the way in which its end-users rely on culturally determined structures and social functions in the processes of selection and interpretation of these information.

Yuri Lotman, a well-known author in semiotics, developed the concept of "semiosphere" in order to spatially encompass all symbolic phenomena in a way similar to one according which we speak of "biosphere". In his works, Lotman also managed to recognize some of specific and unique properties of the semiosphere. It is our opinion that the concept of semiosphere could serve to define the field of the Anthropology of Information Society, in that respect that it could be understood as a discipline concerned with the dynamics of the information distribution, processing and acceptance as a function of varying socio-cultural features in the semiosphere. In that respect, we could think of this discipline as a part of the research programs of socio-cultural anthropology and semiotics at the same time.