Alistair Duff

Alistair Duff

Prof Alistair Duff PhD

Professor of Information Policy


Alistair Duff is professor of information policy in the School of Arts and Creative Industries. His special interests include: information society, network society, privacy, surveillance, access to information, FOI, digital divides, information inequality, social justice, societal impact of information technology, post-industrialism, future of media, copyright, population census, media policy, opinion journalism, and ePunditry. Authors of special interest include Daniel Bell, Walter Lippmann, Jurgen Habermas and R.H. Tawney.


Duff has supplied commentary and interviews on a range of information/technology issues on platforms including Newsnight, Good Morning Scotland, Scotland Tonight, Reporting Scotland, The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday, AllMediaScotland, The Independent, The Ferret, the Sunday Express, Radio Sputnik and The

Duff's most recent (May 2013- Feb 2017) major project was the Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded, Informing the Good Society (InGSoc): New Directions in Information Policy (

He was a 2006/7 visiting fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, and a 2001 summer-school lecturer at the University of Zurich.

He has served as external examiner for programmes at City University, Lincoln School of Journalism, and Nottingham Trent University.

Duff is currently module leader on several information modules, as well as a dissertation supervisor at honours, master's and doctoral levels.

Recent and forthcoming RESEARCH PUBLICATIONS include:

Research Handbook on Information Policy (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2021)

Privacy fundamentalism: an essay on social responsibility, Journal of Information Ethics (2020)

Computopia revisited: Yoneji Masuda's realistic utopianism, Keio Communication Review 42 [with Youichi Ito]

On political ePunditry, Journalism Studies (2018)

Walter Lippmann, in The Encyclopedia of Social Theory (Wiley, 2017)

Contra Bentham: ethical information policy in the PanopticEon, Journal of Information Ethics (2017)

The fellowship of the net, International Journal of Public Theology (2017)

Rating the revolution: Silicon Valley in normative perspective, Information, Communication and Society (2016)

Information society, in Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2nd ed. (Elsevier, 2015)

Cyber-Green: idealism in the information age, Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society (2015)

Needing NoDI (normal democratic information)? The problem of information poverty in post-industrial society, Information, Communication and Society (2015)

Information, in The Encyclopedia of Political Thought, vol. 4 (Wiley-Blackwell, 2014)

Pundit for post-industrial times? Walter Lippmann as an information society theorist, Information, Communication and Society (2013)

A Normative Theory of the Information Society (Routledge Research Monographs, 2012)

The Rawls-Tawney theorem and the digital divide in post-industrial society, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (2011)

The age of access? Information policy and social progress, in R. Negrine, ed., Communications Policy: Theories and Issues (Palgrave, 2010)

Daniel Bell's theory of the information society, in B. Smart, ed., Post-Industrial Society, vol. 3 (Sage, 2010)




Advisory panels and expert committees or witness

  • Accreditation Team, Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP)
  • Committee Member, Institute of Information Scientists (Scottish Branch)
  • Chairman, public debate on invasion of Iraq organised by Napier Journalists’
  • Chairman, ‘Library the Future of the Library Schools?’, Meeting of the University, College and Research Section of the Library Association


Conference Activity

  • Advisory Panel, The Ethics of Electronic Information in the 21st Century, 2003
  • Afternoon Parallel Session, eSociety 2015 Conference, Madeira, March 2015
  • Morning Parallel Session: Interdisciplinary Topics, 2nd Asian Conference on Technology, Information and Society (ACTIS), Kobe, Japan, November 2015
  • The Ethics of Electronic Information in the 21st Century Annual Symposium, University of Memphis, Tennessee, October 2002, final afternoon session including Open Discussion
  • Informing the Good Society Public Seminar series, 2013-2016



  • Afternoon Parallel Session, Napier Staff Conference, June 2006


Editorial Activity

  • Alistair Duff invited onto editorial board of Library Trends
  • Teaching the information society, Special (Conference) Issue of Education for Information 19(3) 2001
  • Dr Alistair Duff joins editorial board of Keio Communication Review.
  • Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace


External Examining/Validations

  • Taught degrees provision, Manchester Metropolitan University, Dept of Information and Communications, 2011
  • BA Journalism, Lincoln School of Journalism, University of Lincoln, 2007-2011
  • BA Library and Information Management, Glyndwr University, 2013
  • MSc Information, Communication and Society, City University, 2009
  • MSc Information, Communication and Society, City University, 2009-2012
  • P. Gamage, ‘Does “E-Sri Lanka” Bridge Digital Inequalities? A Grounded Theory Analysis of the 1000 Telecentre Programme’, Leeds Metropolitan University, 2012
  • MA Journalism programmes, Nottingham Trent University, 2014-2018
  • MA and MSc Information Science, UCL, 2014
  • BSc Communication, University of Northumbria at Newcastle, 2002


External Visitor

  • Organiser of Dr Brian Lang’s inaugural lecture as visiting professor at Napier University
  • Organiser of Professor Daniel Bell’s visit to Napier University for his honorary


Fellowships and Awards

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • William Glanville Philosophy Prize, King’s College London
  • Dawson Award for MSc dissertation, University of Strathclyde
  • AHRC-Funded Paper Wins Award


Grant Reviewer

  • Arts and Humanities Research Board/Council, 03-05


Invited Speaker

  • 6th Annual Freedom of Information Conference: Extending the Right to Information, Holyrood Magazine Events, December 2008
  • 3rd Annual Freedom of Information Conference: FOI One Year On, Holyrood Magazine Events, Edinburgh, December 2005
  • 3rd International ICTs-and-Society Network Conference, Internet Interdisciplinary Institute, Open University of Catalonia, Barcelona, June 2010
  • ‘2001: an information society? The status of information society studies in the information science curriculum’, The Future of Library and Information Studies Education, British-Nordic BAILER Conference, University College Dublin, March 2001
  • ‘Achtung informatization! The information society and its problems’, Inaugural Professorial Lecture, Edinburgh Napier University, March 2014
  • ‘Social welfare aspects of information with special reference to news’, International Association for Development of the Information Society, Conference on E-Society, Lisbon, Portugal, June 2003
  • ‘Social engineering as a mode of information and communication policy’, Oxford Internet Institute Symposium on ‘Information, Communication, Society’, Balliol College, University of Oxford, September 2003
  • Social democracy and information media policy’, The Ethics of Electronic Information in the 21st Century Annual Symposium, University of Memphis, Tennessee, October 2001
  • ‘Social democracy and information media policy’, School of Information and Media, Robert Gordon University, November 2001
  • Exploring CyberSociety International Conference, University of Northumbria at Newcastle, July 1999
  • ‘Ethical messages: R. H. Tawney confronts the information age’, Institute of Communication Ethics annual conference on ‘The Information Age: New Anxieties, New Opportunities’, University of Lincoln School of Media and Humanities, June 2004 (joint presenta
  • Floor Speaker, Oxford Union, emergency debate on Scottish independence
  • ‘For a new nanny state: the role of national information services in post-industrial societies’, The Ethics of Electronic Information in the 21st Century Annual Symposium, University of Memphis, Tennessee, October 2002
  • ‘From MEDLARS to micros: the story of library informatisation’, PMPC Information Society Seminar, March 1999
  • ‘Futures studies and information society studies’, Futures Workshop, Napier University, September 2002
  • “Mere brotherhood”: religious socialism @ network society’, 5th ICTs-and-Society International Conference: Information Society at the Crossroads, Vienna, June 2015
  • ‘Mission impossible? Building a normative theory of the information society’, Centre for Social Informatics, Edinburgh Napier University, May 2010
  • ‘Opening Address I. The field of information society studies II. The politics of information’, University of Zurich Department of Mass Communication and Media Research Centre for Studies of the Global Information Society, Summer School on New Media in the
  • ‘On the present state of information society studies’, Keynote Address at The Information Society Symposium: Teaching the Information Society, Napier University, May 2001
  • Keystones for the Information Age: British Library Information Policy Conference, London, March 2000
  • Knowledge Management in the Age of Networks, Edinburgh Centre for Social Informatics, Napier University, October 2000
  • Keynote Speaker, euroia2016, Amsterdam
  • ‘Key principles of the good information society’, 13th IADIS (International Association for Development of the Information Society) International Conference on e-Society, Madeira, Portugal, March 2015
  • ‘Laying a foundation of fact: the Fabian story and the information society’, Symposium on European Modernism and the Information Society, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, May 2005
  • Invited Speaker, St Andrews Union Debating Society, debate on new media
  • ‘Programming the good life’, The Good Life in a Technological Age, University of Twente, Enschede, Holland, June 2008
  • ‘Rethinking the digital divide: from philanthropy to isonomia’, New Media and Information: Convergences and Divergences, International Conference, Panteion University, Athens, May 2009
  • PMPC research profile’, Conference of the Scottish Communication and Media Association, Napier University, October 2000
  • Charting the Future: Broadcasting in and for Scotland, VLV, Edinburgh, October 2004
  • ‘Communication rules: frameworks for information policy in Scotland and Europe’, PMPC Information Society Seminar, May 2000 (with R. Beveridge)
  • ‘The preferential option for the (information) poor in digital societies’, Critique, Democracy and Philosophy in 21st Century Information Society: Towards Critical Theories of Social Media: 4th International ICTs-and-Society Network Conference, Universit
  • ‘The normative crisis of the information society’, Cyberspace 2007, 5th Annual Conference, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic, December 2007
  • ‘The information society: research on social aspects of information provision’, Workshop to Inform British Library Research Priorities, British Library, London, June 2007
  • ‘The great information society debate’, School of Information, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, November 2011
  • ‘The good information society’, International Conference on the Information Society, Marriott Hotel, London Heathrow, November 2014 (conference opening invited keynote address)
  • Broadcasting and Democracy, Voice of the Listener and Viewer (VLV), Edinburgh, December 2003
  • ‘Teaching freedom of information in Scotland’, Association for Journalism Education Seminar, University of Sunderland, June 2005
  • ‘The European information society’, 25th Anniversary Conference of the Japan Society of Information and Communication Research, Tokyo, Japan, November 2008
  • ‘The age of access? Developing a normative theory of the information society’, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, January 2007
  • ‘Winning research grants’, Lecture to School of Arts and Creative Industries staff, March 2015
  • Countdown to Freedom of Information Conference, Scottish Executive, Edinburgh, November 2003
  • ‘Informatisation: the four electronic dispensations’, Aspects of Modern Librarianship, 1877-2002, Library Association, London, March 2002
  • ‘Information liberation? The dialectic of knowledge and freedom in social-democratic thought’, Worlds of Knowledge and Democracy: International Conference at the Center for the Advanced Study of the Humanities, Essen, Germany, April 2006
  • ‘Information and society in the writings of Daniel Bell’, Information and Society Seminar, Leeds Metropolitan University, April 2001
  • Inspecting the bad society? Bentham’s panopticon revisited, 2nd Asian Conference on Technology, Information and Society (ACTIS), Kobe, Japan, November 2015
  • ‘Human liberty in the information society: Greenian idealism and the new socio-technical reality’, Conference on Applied Ethics and Emerging Technologies, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan, November 2013
  • Alistair Duff Keynote at I-Society 2014
  • Alistair Duff invited to keynote EuroIA 2016
  • Association for Journalism Education Conference: Researching Journalism, Birmingham City University, January 2009
  • Association for Journalism Education Workshop, Lincoln University, February 2004


Media Activity

  • TV appearance: Scotland Tonight Interview
  • ‘21st century pilgrim’, Silicon Valley travel article, The Scotsman (Weekend Life Saturday magazine), 14 March 2015
  • Talk 107 Interview on Google Cameras Controversy
  • Silicon Valley Article in The Scotsman
  • Social democracy and the future’, The Common Good, 191(summer) 2005, p. 13
  • Sunday Herald Feature on Cyberbullying
  • ‘Entitled to their own opinion: contemporary political columnists’, The Independent, 17 July 2006
  • ‘ePunditry’, Radio Scotland, interview, 13 February 2013
  • Newsnight Scotland Interview - Alistair Duff
  • ‘Is electronic punditry the future and should we welcome it?’, AllMediaScotland, 22 February 2013 (online)
  • Presenter, opinion programme, community radio station, January-April 2007 (7 shows), May-August 2012 (11 shows)
  • Professor interviewed by The
  • Scotland on Sunday Article
  • Scotsman Op-Ed Column on Future of Privacy
  • ‘CCTV’, Talk 107, live radio interview, 1 June 2008
  • ‘Third degree’ (interview), Cumbernauld News, 18 September 2014
  • ‘Time to close curtains on big brother’, The Scotsman, 28 March 2014
  • Census Controversy: Alistair Duff Interviewed on TV & Radio
  • ‘The Da Vinci Code’, Talk 107, live radio interview, 16 April 2006
  • ‘The future of the press’, Newsnight Scotland, interview, 26 February 2014
  • The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Bill’, member of BBC Radio Scotland expert panel on FoI, live broadcast on Lesley Riddoch show, 23 April 2002
  • ‘The census controversy’, Reporting Scotland (TV) and Radio Scotland, interviews, 21 March 2011
  • ‘Why I am refusing to cooperate with the census’, Ethical Census News, 29 March 2011 (online)
  • Dr Alistair Duff Speaks in Digital Media Debate at St Andrews Union Debating Society
  • ‘Cyberbullying’, Reporting Scotland and Radio Scotland, interviews, 26 October 2010
  • 'Cyberbullying': SACI Reader Alistair Duff Interviewed on Radio Scotland and Reporting Scotland
  • Information Today Europe discusses the InGSoc project in the context of "digital first" news
  • 'Information is Key to New Revolution': Dr Alistair Duff interviewed by Evening News, op-ed page.
  • Alistair Duff gives radio interview on Good Morning Scotland


Research Degree External Examining

  • Appointed as external expert for programmes provision validation, Department of Information & Communication, Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Alistair Duff serves as external PhD examiner at Leeds Metropolitan University



  • Independent Social Research Foundation, 2014
  • Information, Communication and Society; The Information Society; Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism; Journalism Studies; Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology; Kybernetes. Routledge; Wiley-Blackwell; The MIT Press
  • Interdisciplinary grants referee ENU, 13-14



  • Speaker, University Debate on Research-Teaching Linkage, Napier University
  • ‘Bibliometric research’, PMPC Research Methodology Seminar, June 1995



80 results

Computopia Revisited: Yoneji Masuda’s Realistic Utopianism

Journal Article
Duff, A., & Ito, Y. (in press)
Computopia Revisited: Yoneji Masuda’s Realistic Utopianism. Keio communication review, 42,
Utopianism has always had a bad press. The whole genre, not least classics such as Thomas More’s Utopia (More, 1516), Robert Owen’s New View of Society (Owen, 1813), and Willi...

Privacy Fundamentalism: An Essay on Social Responsibility

Journal Article
Duff, A. S. (in press)
Privacy Fundamentalism: An Essay on Social Responsibility. Journal of Information Ethics,
No abstract available.

UK public library roles and value: a focus group analysis

Journal Article
Appleton, L., Hall, H., Duff, A., & Raeside, R. (2018)
UK public library roles and value: a focus group analysis. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 50(3), (275-283). ISSN 0961-0006
Findings from a study of the advantages and disadvantages accrued by individuals from their public library use, and the impact of this on citizenship at individual and communi...

Undermining our data: implications for trust in the population census

Presentation / Conference
Killick, L., Duff, A. S., Deakin, M. & Hall, H. (2017, June)
Undermining our data: implications for trust in the population census. Paper presented at Information: interactions and impact (i3), Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK
This paper draws on empirical work conducted as part of a multi-method research study funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). It is concerned with public p...

Demonstrating the impact of the public library on citizenship development in the UK: focus group findings

Presentation / Conference
Appleton, L., Duff, A., Hall, H. & Raeside, R. (2017, June)
Demonstrating the impact of the public library on citizenship development in the UK: focus group findings. Paper presented at i3: information: interactions and impact, Aberdeen, Scotland
Introduction This paper presents the findings of a research project that seeks to understand how public libraries operate and demonstrate value and social impact. The research...

Contra Bentham: ethical information policy in the PanopticEon

Journal Article
Duff, A. S., & Bentham, C. (2017)
Contra Bentham: ethical information policy in the PanopticEon. Journal of Information Ethics, 26(1), 93-111
The article addresses the problem of surveillance within the framework of ethical information policy. Jeremy Bentham’s plan for a panoptic penitentiary is subjected to forensi...

Using a longitudinal focus group methodology to measure the value and impact of public libraries

Conference Proceeding
Appleton, L., Duff, A. S., Hall, H., & Raeside, R. (in press)
Using a longitudinal focus group methodology to measure the value and impact of public libraries. In Conference Proceedings
Introduction There is a general acceptance that public libraries contribute to ‘community’, and at least have the potential to have a very positive impact on civil society. (V...

The Fellowship of the Net

Journal Article
Duff, A. S. (2017)
The Fellowship of the Net. International Journal of Public Theology, 11(2), 188-210.
The article revisits the tradition of religious socialism as a potential resource for the information age. It begins with a detailed exposition and defence of the ideas of net...

Ethical ePunditry? The role of expertise in online opinion-making

Journal Article
Forrest, E., & Duff, A. S. (2017)
Ethical ePunditry? The role of expertise in online opinion-making. Journal of Information Ethics, 26(1),
The use of blogs to communicate ideas, opinions and knowledge has grown over the past two decades. Social media platforms have facilitated the rise of hybridised forms of writ...

Privacy: An Endangered Species?

Presentation / Conference
Duff, A. (2017, March)
Privacy: An Endangered Species?. Presented at Rotary Club, Cumbernauld
‘Privacy: an endangered species?’ was the theme of Alistair Duff’s invited dinner speech at the Rotary Club of Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire, 22 March 2017. This half-hour ta...

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