Information has a rich but currently under-explored history. The chapters of this book offer some new insights as to how information has been thought of, conceptualized and used in past societies. There is no single definition or single history of information; like any other historical subject it has a complex relationship with the past. This is made all the more intricate because of our own contemporary relationship with information. It has a paradoxical existence in our own society: on one hand the subject of constant political and cultural discussion in relation to personal privacy rights, data protection, the surveillance state and so on, whilst on the other hand often appearing to be an ordinary, everyday phenomenon. This latter experience is a result of our over-exposure to information: we take it for granted. Consequently, until the information turn of the late 1990s and early 2000s
Historians have been guilty of not seeing the wood for the trees. We use different types of ‘information’ all the time in our research in the form of documents, letters, diaries, archives, or newspapers, so we do not easily distance ourselves from these materials as information sources in order to think about information more conceptually.
Information history allows us to revisit established historical discourses and to challenge them. It offers new perspectives on contemporary information debates and concerns. It can challenge the chronology of the information age. At the end of the previous chapter, Luke Tredinnick concluded that