Educational Technology & Society 2(3) 1999
ISSN 1436-4522

Information ecologies

(Book review)

Reviewer: Giorgio Casadei
Dipartimento di Scienze dell'Informazione
Mura Anteo Zamboni, 7 BOLOGNA, Italy

Textbook details:
Information ecologies
Bonnie A. Nardi and Vicki O'Day
1999, The MIT Press, Fitzroy House, 11 Chenies Street, London WC1E 7ET United Kingdom
(ISBN 0-262-14066-7) £ 19.50 cloth

The book is about human activities that are served by information technologies; to be more specific it discusses the values added or subtracted when technology is used to perform a human task. The problem treated is not on how to integrate technology in every day life, but why to do it; this purpose is realized by focusing on the underlying content of activities rather than the tools employed in accomplishing them. In this respect, "…this book is an attempt to engender a public conversation … to develop a critical stance that is less passive and unreflectively accepting".

Undoubtedly information technology is overwhelming us and we must find a way to manage its integration at all levels: production, organization, delivery and usage; in this book these issues are treated effectively by means of many meaningful examples. I strongly recommend the book to people who think it is possible to use technology with pleasure and grace if we make thoughtful decisions in the context of "our habitations". But the problem is not solved after the reading! Every new technology (from the fire to the alphabet) has taken a long time to reach a sound integration in every day life; unavoidably we have to learn a lot by trial and error. Perhaps with the help of heart (as suggested by this book) and of mind we will short that time and lower the errors.