Monday, 8 June 2015

Information Age

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A visualization of the various routes through a portion of the Internet.
The Information Age (also known as the Computer Age, Digital Age, or New Media Age) is a period in human history characterized by the shift from traditional industry that the industrial revolution brought through industrialization, to an economy based on information computerization. The onset of the Information Age is associated with the Digital Revolution, just as the Industrial Revolution marked the onset of the Industrial Age.
During the information age, the phenomenon is that the digital industry creates a knowledge-based society surrounded by a high-tech global economy that spans over its influence on how the manufacturing throughput and the service sector operate in an efficient and convenient way. In a commercialized society, the information industry is able to allow individuals to explore their personalized needs, therefore simplifying the procedure of making decisions for transactions and significantly lowering costs for both the producers and buyers. This is accepted overwhelmingly by participants throughout the entire economic activities for efficency purposes, and new economic incentives would then be indigenously encouraged, such as the knowledge economy.[1]
The Information Age formed by capitalizing on computer microminiaturization advances. This evolution of technology in daily life, as well as of educational life style, has allowed rapid global communications and networking to shape modern society.[2]


Main article: Internet
The Internet was conceived as a fail-proof network that could connect computers together and be resistant to any single point of failure. It is said that 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 on work carried out by British scientists like Donald Davies; 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 in 1989 by British scientist Tim Berners-Lee and its introduction in 1991 that the Internet became an easily accessible network. The Internet is now a global platform for accelerating the flow of information and is pushing many, if not most, older forms of media into obsolescence.


Library expansion[edit]

Library expansion was calculated in 1945 by Fremont Rider to double in capacity every 16 years, if sufficient space were made available.[3] He advocated replacing bulky, decaying printed works with miniaturized microform analog photographs, which could be duplicated on-demand for library patrons or other institutions. He did not foresee the digital technology that would follow decades later to replace analog microform with digital imaging, storage, and transmission mediums. Automated, potentially lossless digital technologies allowed vast increases in the rapidity of information growth. Moore's law was formulated around 1970.
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[edit]

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 per person in 1986 (539 MB per person), roughly 4 CD-ROM per person of 1993, 12 CD-ROM per person in the year 2000, and almost 61 CD-ROM per person in 2007.[4]

Information transmission[edit]

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).[4] 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).[4] 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 $3000 in 1997 would cost $2000 two years later and only $1000 the following year.


The world's technological capacity to compute information with humanly guided general-purpose computers grew from 3.0 × 108 MIPS in 1986, to 4.4 × 109 MIPS in 1993, 2.9 × 1011 MIPS in 2000 to 6.4 × 1012 MIPS in 2007.[4]

Relation to economics[edit]

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.[citation needed]
Nicholas Negroponte captured the essence of these changes in his 1995 book, Being Digital.[5] 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.

Impact on jobs and income distribution[edit]

The Information Age has affected 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 poses problems for workers in industrial societies, which are still to be solved. However, solutions that involve lowering the working time usually find high resistance.[citation needed]
Jobs traditionally associated with the middle class (assembly line workers, data processors, foremen and supervisors) are beginning to disappear, either through outsourcing or automation. Individuals who lose their jobs must either move up, joining a group of "mind workers" (engineers, doctors, attorneys, teachers, scientists, professors, executives, journalists, consultants), or settle for low-skill, low-wage service jobs.
The "mind workers" 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.[6] 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, including increased opportunity in developing countries and the globalization of the workforce.
Workers in developing countries have a competitive advantage which translates into increased opportunities and higher wages.[7] The full impact on the workforce in developing countries is complex and has downsides. (see discussion in section on Globalization).
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.[6]

Automation, productivity, and job loss[edit]

The Information Age has affected the workforce in that automation and computerization have resulted in higher productivity coupled with net job loss. In the United States for example, from January 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%.[8]
Although it initially appeared that job loss in the industrial sector might be partially offset by the rapid growth of jobs in the IT sector, the recession of March 2001 foreshadowed a sharp drop in the number of jobs in the IT sector. This pattern of decrease in jobs continued until 2003.[9]
Data has shown that overall, technology creates more jobs than it destroys even in the short run.[10]

Rise of information-intensive industry[edit]

Industry is becoming more information-intensive and less labor and capital-intensive (see Information industry). 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 and financial capital are important predictors of the performance of a new venture.[11] However, as demonstrated by Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, it now seems possible for a group of relatively inexperienced people with limited capital to succeed on a large scale.[12]


The Information Age was enabled by technology developed in the Digital Revolution, which was itself enabled by building on the developments in the Technological Revolution.


Main article: History of computers
Before the advent of electronics, mechanical computers, like the Analytical Engine in 1837, were designed to provide routine mathematical calculation and simple decision-making capabilities. Military needs during WWII drove development of the first electronic computers, based on vacuum tubes, including the Z3, the Atanasoff–Berry Computer, Colossus, and ENIAC.
The invention of the transistor in 1947 enabled the era of mainframe computers (1950s – 1970s), typified by the IBM 360. These large room-sized computers provided data calculation and manipulation that was much faster than humanly possible, but were expensive to buy and maintain, so were initially limited to a few scientific institutions, large corporations and government agencies. As transistor technology rapidly improved, the ratio of computing power to size increased dramatically, giving direct access to computers to ever smaller groups of people.
Along with electronic arcade machines and home video game consoles in the 1980s, the development of the personal computers like the Commodore PET and Apple II (both in 1977) gave individuals access to the power of the computer. But data sharing between individual computers was either non-existent or largely manual, at first using punched cards and magnetic tape, and later floppy disks.


The first developments for storing data were initially based on photographs, starting with microphotography in 1851 and then microform in the 1920s, with the ability to store documents on film, making them much more compact. In the 1970s, electronic paper allows digital information appear as paper documents.
Early information theory and Hamming codes were developed about 1950, but awaited technical innovations in data transmission and storage to be put to full use. While cables transmitting digital data connected computer terminals and peripherals to mainframes were common, and special message-sharing systems leading to email were first developed in the 1960s, independent computer-to-computer networking began with ARPANET in 1969. This expanded to become the Internet (coined in 1974), and then the World Wide Web in 1989.
Public digital data transmission first utilized existing phone lines using dial-up, starting in the 1950s, and this was the mainstay of the Internet until broadband in the 2000s. The introduction of wireless networking in the 1990s combined with the proliferation of communications satellites in the 2000s allowed for public digital transmission without the need for cables. This technology led to digital television, GPS, and satellite radio through the 1990s and 2000s.
Computers continued to become smaller and more powerful, to the point where they could be carried. In the 1980s and 1990s, Laptops first allowed computers to become portable, and PDAs allowed use while standing or walking. Pagers existing since the 1950s, were largely replaced by mobile phones beginning in the 1980s, giving mobile networking ability to a few at first. These have now become commonplace, and include digital cameras. Starting in the 1990s, tablets and then smartphones combined and extended these abilities of computing, mobility, and information sharing.

See also[edit]


  1. Jump up ^ "Technology and Workforce: Comparison between the Information Revolution and the Industrial Revolution" by Mathias Humbert, University of California, Berkeley
  2. Jump up ^ Kluver, Randy. "Globalization, Informatization, and Intercultural Communication". United Nations Public Administration Network. Retrieved 18 April 2013. 
  3. Jump up ^ Rider (1944). The Scholar and the Future of the Research Library. New York City: Hadham Press. 
  4. ^ Jump up to: a b c d "The World's Technological Capacity to Store, Communicate, and Compute Information", Martin Hilbert and Priscila López (2011), Science (journal), 332(6025), 60–65; see also "free access to the study" and "video animation".
  5. Jump up ^ "Negroponte's articles". 1996-12-30. Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  6. ^ Jump up to: a b Reich, Robert. The Work of the Nations, Preparing Ourselves for 21st Century Capitalism. Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992
  7. Jump up ^ Bhagwati, Jagdish N. In defense of Globalization. 2005 New York: Oxford University Press
  8. Jump up ^ "U.S. Manufacturing : Output vs. Jobs, January 1972 to August 2010 ". BLS and Fed Reserve graphic, reproduced in Smith, Fran. "Job Losses and Productivity Gains",, Oct 05, 2010.
  9. Jump up ^ Cooke, Sandra D. "Information Technology Workers in the Digital Economy", in Digital Economy 2003. 2003: Economics and Statistics Administration, Department of Commerce.
  10. Jump up ^ Yongsung, Chang; Hong (July 2013). "Jay H.". SERI Quaterly 6 (3): 44–53. Retrieved 29 April 2014. 
  11. Jump up ^ Cooper, Arnold; Gimeno-Gascon, Javier; Woo, Carolyn: "Initial human and financial capital as predictors of new venture performance". Journal of Business Venturing, Volume 9, Issue 5, September 1994, Pages 371–395
  12. Jump up ^ Lev Grossman. "Mark Zuckerberg, Person of the Year 2010", Wednesday, December 12, 2010: Time Magazine.

External links[edit]

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