Information Age
Overview
 
The Information Age, also commonly known as the Computer Age or Digital Age, is an idea that the current age will be characterized by the ability of individuals to transfer information freely, and to have instant access to knowledge that would have been difficult or impossible to find previously. The idea is linked to the concept of a digital age or digital revolution, and carries the ramifications of a shift from traditional industry that the industrial revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

 brought through industrialization, to an economy based on the manipulation of information, i.e., an information society
Information society
The aim of the information society is to gain competitive advantage internationally through using IT in a creative and productive way. An information society is a society in which the creation, distribution, diffusion, use, integration and manipulation of information is a significant economic,...

.

The Information Age formed by capitalizing on the computer microminiaturization advances, with a transition spanning from the advent of the personal computer in the late 1970s to the internet's reaching a critical mass
Critical mass (sociodynamics)
Critical mass is a sociodynamic term to describe the existence of sufficient momentum in a social system such that the momentum becomes self-sustaining and creates further growth....

 in the early 1990s, and the adoption of such technology by the public in the two decades after 1990.
Encyclopedia
The Information Age, also commonly known as the Computer Age or Digital Age, is an idea that the current age will be characterized by the ability of individuals to transfer information freely, and to have instant access to knowledge that would have been difficult or impossible to find previously. The idea is linked to the concept of a digital age or digital revolution, and carries the ramifications of a shift from traditional industry that the industrial revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

 brought through industrialization, to an economy based on the manipulation of information, i.e., an information society
Information society
The aim of the information society is to gain competitive advantage internationally through using IT in a creative and productive way. An information society is a society in which the creation, distribution, diffusion, use, integration and manipulation of information is a significant economic,...

.

The Information Age formed by capitalizing on the computer microminiaturization advances, with a transition spanning from the advent of the personal computer in the late 1970s to the internet's reaching a critical mass
Critical mass (sociodynamics)
Critical mass is a sociodynamic term to describe the existence of sufficient momentum in a social system such that the momentum becomes self-sustaining and creates further growth....

 in the early 1990s, and the adoption of such technology by the public in the two decades after 1990. Bringing about a fast evolution of technology in daily life, as well as of educational life style, the Information Age has allowed rapid global communications and networking to shape modern society.

The Internet

The Internet was conceived as a fail-proof network that could connect computers together and be resistant to any one point of failure; the Internet cannot be totally destroyed in one event, and if large areas are disabled, the information is easily rerouted. It was created mainly by DARPA
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is an agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of new technology for use by the military...

; its initial software applications were e-mail and computer file transfer.

Though the Internet itself has existed since 1969, it was with the invention of the World Wide Web
World Wide Web
The World Wide Web is a system of interlinked hypertext documents accessed via the Internet...

 in 1989 by British scientist Tim Berners-Lee
Tim Berners-Lee
Sir Timothy John "Tim" Berners-Lee, , also known as "TimBL", is a British computer scientist, MIT professor and the inventor of the World Wide Web...

 and its implementation in 1991 that the Internet truly became a global network. Today the Internet has become the ultimate platform for accelerating the flow of information and is, today, the fastest-growing form of media, and is pushing many, if not most, other forms of media into obsolescence
Obsolescence
Obsolescence is the state of being which occurs when an object, service or practice is no longer wanted even though it may still be in good working order. Obsolescence frequently occurs because a replacement has become available that is superior in one or more aspects. Obsolete refers to something...

.

Progression

The proliferation of the smaller and less expensive personal computers and improvements in computing power by the early 1980s resulted in a sudden access to and ability to share and store information for more and more workers. Connectivity between computers within companies led to the ability of workers at different levels to access greater amounts of information.
  • Information storage – The world's technological capacity to store information grew from 2.6 (optimally compressed) exabytes in 1986 to 15.8 in 1993, over 54.5 in 2000, and to 295 (optimally compressed) exabytes in 2007. This is the informational equivalent to less than one 730-MB CD-ROM
    CD-ROM
    A CD-ROM is a pre-pressed compact disc that contains data accessible to, but not writable by, a computer for data storage and music playback. The 1985 “Yellow Book” standard developed by Sony and Philips adapted the format to hold any form of binary data....

     per person in 1986 (539 MB per person), roughly 4 CD-ROM
    CD-ROM
    A CD-ROM is a pre-pressed compact disc that contains data accessible to, but not writable by, a computer for data storage and music playback. The 1985 “Yellow Book” standard developed by Sony and Philips adapted the format to hold any form of binary data....

     per person of 1993, 12 CD-ROM
    CD-ROM
    A CD-ROM is a pre-pressed compact disc that contains data accessible to, but not writable by, a computer for data storage and music playback. The 1985 “Yellow Book” standard developed by Sony and Philips adapted the format to hold any form of binary data....

     per person in the year 2000, and almost 61 CD-ROM
    CD-ROM
    A CD-ROM is a pre-pressed compact disc that contains data accessible to, but not writable by, a computer for data storage and music playback. The 1985 “Yellow Book” standard developed by Sony and Philips adapted the format to hold any form of binary data....

     per person in 2007. Piling up the imagined 404 billion CD-ROM
    CD-ROM
    A CD-ROM is a pre-pressed compact disc that contains data accessible to, but not writable by, a computer for data storage and music playback. The 1985 “Yellow Book” standard developed by Sony and Philips adapted the format to hold any form of binary data....

     from 2007 would create a stack from the earth
    Earth
    Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

     to the moon
    Moon
    The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

     and a quarter of this distance beyond (with 1.2 mm thickness per CD).

  • Information transmission – The world’s technological capacity to receive information through one-way broadcast networks was 432 exabytes of (optimally compressed) information in 1986, 715 (optimally compressed) exabytes in 1993, 1.2 (optimally compressed) zettabytes in 2000, and 1.9 zettabytes in 2007 (this is the information equivalent of 174 newspapers per person per day). The world's effective capacity to exchange information through two-way telecommunication networks was 281 petabytes of (optimally compressed) information in 1986, 471 petabytes in 1993, 2.2 (optimally compressed) exabytes in 2000, and 65 (optimally compressed) exabytes in 2007 (this is the information equivalent of 6 newspapers per person per day). In the 1990s, the spread of the Internet caused a sudden leap in access to and ability to share information in businesses, at home and around the globe. Technology was developing so quickly that a computer costing $3,000.00 in 1997 would cost $2,000.00 two years later and only $1000.00 the following year.

  • Computation – The world's technological capacity to compute information with humanly guided general-purpose computers grew from 3.0 × 10^8 MIPS in 1986, to 4.4 × 10^9 MIPS in 1993, 2.9 10^11 MIPS in 2000 to 6.4 × 10^12 MIPS in 2007.

Relation to economics

Eventually, Information and Communication Technology—computers, computerized machinery, fiber optics, communication satellites, Internet, and other ICT tools—became a significant part of the economy. Microcomputers were developed and many business and industries were greatly changed by ICT.

Nicholas Negroponte
Nicholas Negroponte
Nicholas Negroponte is an American architect best known as the founder and Chairman Emeritus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab, and also known as the founder of the One Laptop per Child Association ....

 captured the essence of these changes in his 1995 book, Being Digital
Being Digital
Being Digital is a non-fiction book about digital technologies and their possible future by technology author Nicholas Negroponte. It was originally published in January 1995 by Vintage Publishing....

.
His book discusses similarities and differences between products made of atoms and products made of bits. In essence, one can very cheaply and quickly make a copy of a product made of bits, and ship it across the country or around the world both quickly and at very low cost.

The impact on workforce

Concurrently during the 1980s and 1990s in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Western Europe, there was a steady trend away from people holding Industrial Age manufacturing jobs. An increasing number of people held jobs as clerks in stores, office workers, teachers, nurses, etc. The industrial world was shifting into a service economy
Service economy
Service economy can refer to one or both of two recent economic developments. One is the increased importance of the service sector in industrialized economies. Services account for a higher percentage of US GDP than 20 years ago...

.

The impact on jobs and income distribution

The Information Age has impacted the workforce in several ways. First, it has created a situation in which workers who perform tasks which are easily automated are being forced to find work which involves tasks that are not easily automated. Second, workers are being forced to compete in a global job market. Lastly workers are being replaced by computers that can do the job more effectively and faster. This creates problems for workers in industrial societies.

Jobs traditionally associated with the middle class (assembly line workers, data processors, foremen, and supervisors) are beginning to disappear, either through outsourcing or automation
Automation
Automation is the use of control systems and information technologies to reduce the need for human work in the production of goods and services. In the scope of industrialization, automation is a step beyond mechanization...

. Individuals who lose their jobs must either move up, joining a group of “mind workers” (engineers, attorneys, scientists, professors, executives, journalists, consultants), or settle for low-skill, low-wage service jobs.

The “mind workers” form about 20% of the workforce. They are able to compete successfully in the world market and command high wages. Conversely, production workers and service workers in industrialized nations are unable to compete with workers in developing countries and either lose their jobs through outsourcing or are forced to accept wage cuts. In addition, the internet makes it possible for workers in developing countries to provide in-person services and compete directly with their counterparts in other nations.

This has had several major consequences:

Growing income inequality in industrial countries

The polarization of jobs into relatively high-skill, high wage jobs and low-skill, low-wage jobs has led to a growing disparity between incomes of the rich and poor. The United States seems to have been more impacted than most countries; income inequality started to rise in the late 1970,’s, however the rate of increase rose sharply in the 21st century. Income inequality in the United States
Income inequality in the United States
Income inequality in the United States of America refers to the extent to which income is distributed in an uneven manner in the US. Data from the United States Department of Commerce, CBO, and Internal Revenue Service indicate that income inequality among households has been increasing...

 has now reached a level comparable to that found in South America.

Increased opportunity in developing countries

Workers in developing countries have a competitive advantage which translates into increased opportunities and higher wages. The full impact on the workforce in developing countries is complex; there are downsides. (see discussion in section on globalization
Globalization
Globalization refers to the increasingly global relationships of culture, people and economic activity. Most often, it refers to economics: the global distribution of the production of goods and services, through reduction of barriers to international trade such as tariffs, export fees, and import...

).

The globalization of the workforce

In the past, the economic fate of workers was tied to the fate of national economies. For example, workers in the United States were once well paid in comparison to the workers in other countries. With the advent of the Information Age and improvements in communication, this is no longer the case. Because workers are forced to compete in a global job market, wages are less dependent on the success or failure of individual economies.

Automation, productivity, and job loss

There is another way in which the Information Age has impacted the workforce: automation and computerization have resulted in higher productivity coupled with net job loss. In the United States for example, from Jan 1972 to August 2010, the number of people employed in manufacturing jobs fell from 17,500,000 to 11,500,000 while manufacturing value rose 270%.
It initially appeared that job loss in the industrial sector might be partially offset by the rapid growth of jobs in the IT sector. However after the recession of March 2001, the number of jobs in the IT sector dropped sharply and continued to drop until 2003. Even the IT sector is not immune to this problem.

The rise of information-intensive industry and "the new entrepreneurialism"

Industry is becoming more information-intensive and less labor and capital-intensive (see Information industry
Information industry
The information industry or information industries are industries that are information intensive in one way or the other. It is considered one of the most important economic sectors for a variety of reasons....

). This trend has important implications for the workforce; workers are becoming increasingly productive as the value of their labor decreases. However, there are also important implications for capitalism itself; not only is the value of labor decreased, the value of capital is also diminished. In the classical model, investments in human capital
Human capital
Human capitalis the stock of competencies, knowledge and personality attributes embodied in the ability to perform labor so as to produce economic value. It is the attributes gained by a worker through education and experience...

 and financial capital
Financial capital
Financial capital can refer to money used by entrepreneurs and businesses to buy what they need to make their products or provide their services or to that sector of the economy based on its operation, i.e. retail, corporate, investment banking, etc....

 are important predictors of the performance of a new venture. However, as demonstrated by Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Elliot Zuckerberg is an American computer programmer and Internet entrepreneur. He is best known for co-creating the social networking site Facebook, of which he is chief executive and president...

 and Facebook, it now seems possible for a group of relatively inexperienced people with limited capital to succeed on a large scale.

Interpreting technology: "the medium is the message"

The Information Age has changed human life profoundly. It has changed culture, language, and it has even changed the thought process. However, before investigating these ideas further, it is necessary to consider the question of interpretation; how are we to understand the implications of technology?

The relationship between mind and technology

There are many theories which suggest how to interpret technology
Theories of technology
There are a number of theories attempting to address technology, which tend to be associated with the disciplines of science and technology studies and communication studies...

. Most of these theories involve the relationship between technology and society; prompting questions about agency and determinism. The school of thought that Thorstein Veblen
Thorstein Veblen
Thorstein Bunde Veblen, born Torsten Bunde Veblen was an American economist and sociologist, and a leader of the so-called institutional economics movement...

 called “technological determinism
Technological determinism
Technological determinism is a reductionist theory that presumes that a society's technology drives the development of its social structure and cultural values. The term is believed to have been coined by Thorstein Veblen , an American sociologist...

” interprets technology as a force largely beyond our control that shapes our history and culture. The implication that our tools somehow control us led to a reaction; in the instrumentalist view, technology is interpreted as a means to an end. James Carey
James Carey
James Carey was a Fenian and informer most notable for his involvement in the Phoenix Park murders.Carey was son of Francis Carey, a bricklayer, who came from Celbridge, in Kildare, to Dublin, where his son was born in James Street in 1845. He also was a bricklayer, and for 18 years continued in...

, in Communication as Culture writes: “Technology is technology, it is a means for communication and transportation over space, and nothing more.”

A recent book by Nicholas Carr
Nicholas G. Carr
Nicholas George Carr is an American writer who has published books and articles on technology, business, and culture. His book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains was a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction.-Career:Carr originally came to prominence with the...

, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, suggests a problem with the both the determinist and instrumentalist positions; they all view technology as something apart from mind. Carr points out that technology can actually affect the way the brain is wired. For example, experiments have shown that the brains of literate and illiterate individuals differ in many ways. Literacy not only affects how we understand language, it also affects how we process visual signals, how we reason, and how we form memories.

The changes in our brain brought about by technology are, in a sense, irreversible. The brain is plastic; when we develop new patterns of thought, the brain forms new structures of neural connections. The old neural loops do not stick around; they are reused by the brain in different ways. This does not mean that we can’t relearn old habits; it simply means that the longer we use new patterns of thought, the harder is to go back. In Carr’s words, “plastic does not mean elastic.”(p. 34)

Cognitive science has shown us we can no longer view technology as something separate from mind. The relationship of mind and technology is dynamic: through use of our minds, we change technology, and in return, technology changes our minds. It might be useful to reconsider the work of Marshal McLuhan in this light.

Marshal McLuhan and his theory of extensions

Marshal McLuhan, in Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man
Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man
Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man is a pioneering study in media theory written by Marshall McLuhan. In it McLuhan proposed that media themselves, not the content they carry, should be the focus of study...

, suggested that technological innovations should be understood, not in terms of their content, but in terms of how they change society. His famous one-liner “the medium is the message
The medium is the message
"The medium is the message" is a phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan meaning that the form of a medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived.- Publications :...

” should be understood this way. He explored this idea metaphorically by suggesting that media act as extensions of the human body. For example, the automobile could be viewed as an extension of the feet; it allows man to travel places in the same manner as the feet, only faster and with less effort.

According to McLuhan, most people understand this intuitively, however they tend not to realize that every extension implies an amputation. The development of the automobile reduces the need for a walking culture, which in turn influences the development of society as a whole. McLuhan also warns us of the dangers of over-extending technology. When a medium like the automobile becomes over-extended, the resulting amputations (carbon emissions, obesity) may outweigh the benefits of getting places faster.

According to McLuhan, when we create a new technology, we are changing ourselves; something has been amputated. When a technology becomes over extended, it is not possible to simply go back. For example, when the automobile becomes over-extended, we cannot go back to a walking culture because we have forgotten how to walk. McLuhan states that "every process pushed far enough tends to reverse or flip suddenly", but this flip is never a literal return to the past, instead it involves a qualitative change, something radically new that seeks to recover something that has been lost. In McLuhan’s words, “we use the new to do the old.”

The Personalisation Era

In his book The Filter Bubble, Eli Pariser argues that we have entered the era of personalisation whilst Simon Dalley argues that The Personalisation Era is a distinct phase within the Information Age. Both argue that individual's world views are being distorted by the change in the way media is being consumed by internet users.

Innovations

  • Analytical Engine
    Analytical engine
    The Analytical Engine was a proposed mechanical general-purpose computer designed by English mathematician Charles Babbage. It was first described in 1837 as the successor to Babbage's difference engine, a design for a mechanical calculator...

     – draft – 1837
  • Stereoscope – 1849
  • Z3 – first general-purpose digital computer – 1941
  • Atanasoff–Berry Computer – electronic digital computer – 1942
  • Colossus computer
    Colossus computer
    Not to be confused with the fictional computer of the same name in the movie Colossus: The Forbin Project.Colossus was the world's first electronic, digital, programmable computer. Colossus and its successors were used by British codebreakers to help read encrypted German messages during World War II...

     – first programmable, digital, electronic computer – 1943
  • ENIAC
    ENIAC
    ENIAC was the first general-purpose electronic computer. It was a Turing-complete digital computer capable of being reprogrammed to solve a full range of computing problems....

     general purpose electronic digital computer – 1946
  • The mathematical framework of the theory of information
    Information theory
    Information theory is a branch of applied mathematics and electrical engineering involving the quantification of information. Information theory was developed by Claude E. Shannon to find fundamental limits on signal processing operations such as compressing data and on reliably storing and...

     – 1948
  • Transistor
    Transistor
    A transistor is a semiconductor device used to amplify and switch electronic signals and power. It is composed of a semiconductor material with at least three terminals for connection to an external circuit. A voltage or current applied to one pair of the transistor's terminals changes the current...

     – mark in the electronic development – 1947
  • The formulation of the Hamming code
    Hamming code
    In telecommunication, Hamming codes are a family of linear error-correcting codes that generalize the Hamming-code invented by Richard Hamming in 1950. Hamming codes can detect up to two and correct up to one bit errors. By contrast, the simple parity code cannot correct errors, and can detect only...

     – 1950
  • Earliest form of the Internet – 1969
  • Email – 1971
  • Personal computer – 1974
  • Laptop – 1980s
  • World Wide Web
    World Wide Web
    The World Wide Web is a system of interlinked hypertext documents accessed via the Internet...

     – 1989
  • PDA
    PDA
    A PDA is most commonly a Personal digital assistant, also known as a Personal data assistant, a mobile electronic device.PDA may also refer to:In science, medicine and technology:...

     – 1990s
  • Online gaming communities – 1990s, widespread public application early 2000s
  • Cellular phones – 1984, widespread public application late 1990s and early 2000s
  • Digital Camera
    Digital camera
    A digital camera is a camera that takes video or still photographs, or both, digitally by recording images via an electronic image sensor. It is the main device used in the field of digital photography...

     and Webcam
    Webcam
    A webcam is a video camera that feeds its images in real time to a computer or computer network, often via USB, ethernet, or Wi-Fi.Their most popular use is the establishment of video links, permitting computers to act as videophones or videoconference stations. This common use as a video camera...

    s 1980s mainstreamed 2000s
  • Digital Television
    Digital television
    Digital television is the transmission of audio and video by digital signals, in contrast to the analog signals used by analog TV...

     1990s, widespread public application 2000s
  • Broadband mainstreamed 2000s
  • Wireless networking late 1990s
  • GPS mainstreamed mid-2000s
  • Satellite radio
    Satellite radio
    Satellite radio is an analogue or digital radio signal that is relayed through one or more satellites and thus can be received in a much wider geographical area than terrestrial FM radio stations...

     – circa 2001
  • Smartphone
    Smartphone
    A smartphone is a high-end mobile phone built on a mobile computing platform, with more advanced computing ability and connectivity than a contemporary feature phone. The first smartphones were devices that mainly combined the functions of a personal digital assistant and a mobile phone or camera...

    s widespread public application late 2000s early 2010s
  • Tablet PC
    Tablet computer
    A tablet computer, or simply tablet, is a complete mobile computer, larger than a mobile phone or personal digital assistant, integrated into a flat touch screen and primarily operated by touching the screen...

    's such as the iPad
    IPad
    The iPad is a line of tablet computers designed, developed and marketed by Apple Inc., primarily as a platform for audio-visual media including books, periodicals, movies, music, games, and web content. The iPad was introduced on January 27, 2010 by Apple's then-CEO Steve Jobs. Its size and...

     1990s mainstream by 2010s

See also

  • Digital exhaust
    Digital exhaust
    The term digital exhaust or exhaust data has several meanings but can be defined through the following:* The output of human beings using the internet....

  • Information revolution
  • Internet governance
    Internet governance
    Internet governance is the development and application of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programs that shape the evolution and use of the Internet...

  • Digital transformation
  • Digital dark age
    Digital Dark Age
    The digital dark age is a possible future situation where it will be difficult or impossible to read historical digital documents and multimedia, because they have been stored in an obsolete and obscure digital format...

  • The Hacker Ethic
    The Hacker Ethic
    The Hacker Ethic and the Spirit of the Information Age is a 2001-year book written by Pekka Himanen, with prologue written by Linus Torvalds and the epilogue written by Manuel Castells....


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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