Everyday Information

Everyday Information

The Evolution of Information Seeking in America

Edited by William Aspray and Barbara M. Hayes

An intimate, everyday perspective on information-seeking behavior, reaching into the social context of American history and American homes.





An intimate, everyday perspective on information-seeking behavior, reaching into the social context of American history and American homes.

All day, every day, Americans seek information. We research major purchases. We check news and sports. We visit government Web sites for public information and turn to friends for advice about our everyday lives. Although the Internet influences our information-seeking behavior, we gather information from many sources: family and friends, television and radio, books and magazines, experts and community leaders. Patterns of information seeking have evolved throughout American history and are shaped by a number of forces, including war, modern media, the state of the economy, and government regulation. This book examines the evolution of information seeking in nine areas of everyday American life.

Chapters offer an information perspective on car buying, from the days of the Model T to the present; philanthropic and charitable activities; airline travel and the complex layers of information available to passengers; genealogy, from the family Bible to Ancestry.com; sports statistics, as well as fantasy sports leagues and their fans' obsession with them; the multimedia universe of gourmet cooking; governmental and publicly available information; reading, sharing, and creating comics; and text messaging among young people as a way to exchange information and manage relationships. Taken together, these case studies provide a fascinating window on the importance of information in the past century of American life.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262015011 368 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 1 b&w illus


$32.00 X ISBN: 9780262515610 368 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 1 b&w illus


William Aspray

William Aspray is Bill and Lewis Suit Professor of Information Technologies in the School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the coeditor of Women and Information Technology: Research on Underrepresentation (2006) and The Internet and American Business (2008), both published by the MIT Press.

Barbara M. Hayes

Barbara M. Hayes is Associate Dean for Administration and Planning at Indiana University School of Informatics at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis.


  • This book may well be of interest to undergraduates in a computing and society course, or anyone looking for insight into how people actually use the tools that have been developed over the last hundred years. It is appropriately full of fascinating nuggets of information, and is attractively produced.

    Computing Reviews

  • Everyday Information is an important book for anyone who has wondered how we got through life before the Internet.



  • Everyday Information anatomizes the information flows that create everyday life in America. The historical case studies make clear where the Internet has made a big difference—but also where we still rely on traditional media outlets, local 'grapevines,' and 'small worlds.'

    Thomas J. Misa

    Director, Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota

  • Everyday Information provides concrete, useful case studies about how the evolution of information technologies has affected everyday life in such wide-ranging areas as airline travel, cooking, participatory democracy, and the comics.

    Barry Wellman

    S. D. Clark Professor of Sociology, University of Toronto

  • To paraphrase Molière, for more than a century we have been engaged in information-seeking behavior without knowing it. From the moment we tumble out of bed our day is a perpetual cycle of information acquisition and evaluation. This compendious book brings middle-class America's quotidian information activities to life, vividly and intimately.

    Blaise Cronin

    Dean and Rudy Professor of Information Science, Indiana University Bloomington