- A Note from the Senior Book Review Editor
In this issue of Information & Culture, you will find five new book reviews featuring a range of topics relevant to the history and study of information in society. These book reviews feature a broad range of topics—from the Atari video game system and early gaming communities, to the transformation of computing work and learning cultures, to a new biography of Claude Shannon. Longtime readers of our journal may recognize that this section reappears after a hiatus of several years. Since 2011, our book reviews have been published online at the journal’s website. We will continue to publish archived reviews online but will now begin publishing reviews in print, aiming to increase attention and engagement with new scholarly monographs in the fields of information studies and information history.
In addition to drawing attention to new books, we want to promote different voices that critically engage with these texts. In my new role as senior book review editor, I have targeted reviews from a number of early career information scholars. These critics represent a new cadre of information researchers with expertise in information infrastructures, gender and sexuality, bibliography, media technology, data production, and community informatics. We see this new configuration of including book reviews from a range of perspectives in our print issues as an extension of the journal’s core mission of making information history through the examination of what past editor, David Gracy, called “the information domains” broadly conceived.
The journal has always had a relationship with library history, and thus with the creation and circulation of books. Yet, to my mind, reading and reviewing books in this particular moment strike me as a courageous, if curious, activity for scholars of information. Different “families” of information have been described and used to characterize a range of human information behavior and empirical research in our discipline. Indeed, many original theories and conceptions of information have been worked out in past issues of Information & Culture itself. [End Page 367] Many definitions of information rely on assumptions about whether information must be useful, reduce uncertainty, or be true. In a culture where “alternative facts” exist and web archives are frequently weaponized for media-manipulation campaigns, perhaps the slow scholarship of monographs and the careful work of reading and reviewing books are just what information studies needs. These five reviews cover a wave of new works that fall along a spectrum of old and new themes in information history: from work and workers, to artifacts and infrastructure, learning and professionalization, and even founding concepts and theory within information science.
Today, as it was in 1966, the journal continues to be focused on the history of information and its impact on society. In an effort to expand the impact on the study of cultures and information technology, we have made intentional efforts to feature scholarly manuscripts that increase awareness of difference and make efforts at understanding principles of diversity and equality alongside rapid, technical change in society. Thus, you will find that each of the monographs being reviewed provides insight into the changing foci of contemporary information history.
For more than fifty years, Information & Culture has broken ground by publishing contemporary, cutting-edge research on libraries, archives, museums, and information science. I hope that you find these critical reviews engaging, thoughtful, and challenging. [End Page 368]