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Challenges of the information society

Challenges of the information society

Widespread access to information via Internet implies a twofold reality: that of the people who consume information and that of the people who help construct it.

Christian Guellerin

The web gives us unlimited access to knowledge, news, facts and commentaries, at any time and any place. Tons of information can be found on every imaginable subject, information which is added to and commented on by all; a godsend for democracy; open debate fuelled by the opinion of all; freedom and achievement.

The web has become a gigantic database, the dream of every encyclopaedist. However, it is also an ideal place for pointless bar-room philosophizing where any comment can be read thousands and millions of times.

It is reassuring to think to what extent Internet has democratized knowledge, learning and information and encouraged debate. But it is equally worrying when "participatory democracy”, so highly praised by politicians, levels the information playing field and elevates the opinion of the average citizen to the same level as intellectuals and experts. This upgrading of information is detrimental to all of us and to the advancement of intelligence: it is a denial of knowledge. Internet is a strange paradox – it opens up knowledge whilst simultaneously killing it.

How can we judge, sort, prioritize and understand information when it is all given equal weighting or there is simply too much of it. This is the subject of the new MDes Master’s program "Information design" available at L’École de design Nantes Atlantique. The course looks at the mapping and representation of information and knowledge in order to restore its original value and meaning.

"Participatory democracy” - with all due respect – is not about letting anyone say anything in the name of ordinary people’s freedom, it’s about playing a part in understanding the world and envisaging the future face of intelligence. This is the focus of the new program conducted in partnership with the Laval University in Quebec.

Christian Guellerin
Managing Director of L’École de design Nantes Atlantique