In 1851, Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote: By means of electricity, the world of matter has become a great nerve, vibrating thousands of miles in breathless point of time.The round globe is vast- brain, instinct with intelligence.
Since then, humanity has not stopped to realize Hawthorne’s vision of a world where the human intelligence is networked. Into the 21st century, the global society lives in the frontiers of digital age. Mass production is taken over by mass- customization. The consumer Digital Global Times of today applies their specific knowledge, tastes, expectations and demands on producers who have to able to meet these in order to succeed. We are in the era of knowledge based economy.
The internet has existed since 1969. British scientist Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989 and fully implemented by 1991, thus the beginning of a global network. It is today’s ultimate platform for disseminating information globally, its growth is beyond exponential. Is the print media as we know today be a thing of yesteryears, pushed to obsolescence?
The I-WAY has created an information society. This has a significant impact on the economic, political, social, cultural, scientific, medical, educational and technological field. Networked technology introduced the world to digitalization. It opens up the creation, distribution, integration, diffusion, use and manipulation of information in many creative and productive ways. Knowledge economy creates wealth through the exploitation of knowledge and understanding. Beniger states that people who have the means to partake in this form of society are referred to as digital citizens– one of the many labels that ushers in a new phase of society into the 21st century.
The growth of information in society
There is no definite or universally accepted meaning of what exactly is information society. Theories bounce around as to this transformation in society that started back in 1970’s. Internet is not the only information technology that is widely used. There are specific media and modes of production that influences the changing ways of society.
The growth of technologically mediated information has been quantified in different ways, including society’s technological capacity to store information, to communicate information, and to compute information.
Touraine wrote in 1988 referring to the programmed society- “ this phrase captures its capacity to create models of management, production, organization,distribution and consumption, such a society appears at all functional levels, as the product of an action exercised by society itself, not the outcome of natural laws or cultural specificities.”
In the dawn of networked technology, information of all sorts becomes digital, reduced to bits stored in computers, races at the speed of light across the global networks. It is a new world of possibilities. The digital whirlwind is sweeping society. This digital growth is quantified in different ways. It handles how society stores information, communicate and compute the data. The technical capacity to store information grew from (optimally compressed) 2.6 exabytes in 1986 to 295 exabytes in 2007.This shows a 60% growth per year over the past two decades.
1,024 gigabytes is one terabyte, and 1,024 terabytes is one petabyte.
To put this in perspective, a petabyte is about one million gigabytes (1,048,576).