Information Age & its Impact on United States
The Information Age came upon us. As a concept, or stage of human history, it suggests a number of propositions. It implies that there is more information now than ever before an indisputable claim. The concept also implies that more people spend more time producing and using more information than ever before another indisputable assertion. Beyond that, the Information Age also suggests that the role of information is more important in the economy than ever before, and that information is replacing some earlier “fuel” of the American economy (Duncan 1994).
These days the primary problem for most organizations and their employees is not the shortage of data but being able to evaluate what is useful and what is not, where to find the good stuff, and then how to use it effectively (Computer Weekly 2005). During the past 25 years, the industry has changed from simple data processing techniques high profile information technology. The challenges of data quality, regulation, access and exploitation are rapidly increasing in urgency (Computer Weekly 2005).
For any organization effective information management will make the difference between coping with a dreary burden or using information to gain clarity and build new opportunities. The extended theory founded on this core belief divides U. S. economic history into different eras, depending on the primary economic activity during the period (Duncan 1994). From colonial times until late in the 19th century, the American economy was agrarian. Then, roughly from the dawn of the 20th century through the end of the Second World War, it was preeminently a manufacturing economy.
Industry especially heavy industry was the motor that drove the entire economic engine. After World War II, the American economy increasingly came to be dominated by its service sector. By the mid-1950s, more than one-half of all U. S. employment was devoted to providing services rather than to fabricating goods (Duncan 1994). The Pre-Information Age business office was supported by the hierarchical managerial system to keep track of employees and the work they produced (Dmytrenko 1992). Office equipment included information producing tools, such as typewriters and adding machines.
Most of the equipment was simple, manual in operation, bulky, and noisy. Clerical staff primarily used this equipment, as they were the appointed information processors of the time. Early efforts to improve office efficiency used industrial engineering techniques, employing time and motion studies to standardize the work tasks of office support staff, and maximize the workflow through effective office design. Information management was categorized as an intensely manual recordkeeping process (Dmytrenko 1992).
Filing systems (alpha and/or numeric), and cross-referenced indexes were the prevailing records management techniques employed, and to be on the safe side, offices maintained multiple copies of the same document for back-up purposes. These practices resulted in increasing demands for office space dedicated to files. One source of confusion is the fact that the movements from manufacturing to services, and then to information, were of a different character than in earlier transitions.
In the first place, while the transition from an agricultural to a manufacturing-based economy was marked by a decline in the number of jobs in agriculture, there has been no such diminution in the number of manufacturing jobs after the shift to a service economy. Moreover, American manufacturing currently accounts for roughly the same percentage of U. S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as three decades ago (Duncan 1994). As a further complication, many argue that the services sector of the economy simply cannot be seen as a separate segment or an economic subsystem.
These observers instead insist that it “serves” precisely the manufacturing sector it is supposed to have replaced and remains dependent even parasitic on manufacturing (Duncan 1994). Moreover, coming up with clear definitions and boundaries for the information industry is, on reflection, a highly complicated undertaking. The Pre-Information Age home was supported by very basic home appliances. These appliances were either on or off, and the home-user manually directed the status.
Outside of some minor kitchen improvements, and the advent of television, the average person saw home advancements limited to seasonal color changes, such as “avocado green” stoves (Dmytrenko 1992). Ongoing changes prevailed in the automobile industry, but slowly. Overall the era was devoid of any electronic “intelligence. ” Business and the home were very separate and different worlds. The predominant orientation was that working people went to work to work, and the home was a place not to work. The telephone was the only information technology common to both the office and home.
With the Information Age came promises. “Office automation” was the popularized term associated with the emerging office technologies that were to improve our use and management of information. With the development of personal computers and computer peripherals, “intelligent” copiers, and telecommunications equipment, came promises of (Dmytrenko 1992): o the paperless office o tremendous productivity gains o continuous growth The Information Age gurus proclaimed that the traditional organizational structure would change dramatically.
Some even went as far as to forecast an eventual dissolution of the office itself as businesses would be decentrally supported by employees working in their homes. The gurus also promised that Information Age technology would revolutionize our homes. Picture phones, information networks, electronic bank links, intelligent appliances, and push button this-and-that would provide us with the freedom to maintain our homelife from an easy chair (Dmytrenko 1992). The Information Age is reshaping the office of the 2000s. Changes are taking place in the organizational structure and operations of businesses.
Not only is the type of work changing, but also the environment in which it is created (Dmytrenko 1992). Today, information is mass-produced and is considered a primary resource. Businesses realize that information that is not managed is no longer a useful resource, but merely bits of unorganized data. Information occupations, as a result, have become the fastest growing career choice. Business/systems analysts, programmers, network administrators, and systems technicians have all become mainstay, highly sought positions.
Manufacturing operations are moving toward intellectual functions and away from physically dependent environments. As robotics and smart systems take over manufacturing lines, systems engineers are replacing blue collar workers. Designing and administering the manufacture of products, their role is to ensure maximum production rather than produce it manually themselves. The changes in the workplace are also requiring changes in career thinking. Specialized workers can no longer expect to remain in the same job for their working lives. A trend is in place to replace the specialist with the generalist (Dmytrenko 1992).
The workplace now demands professionals who are flexible and can adapt to the changing needs of the business world. Back by popular demand is the need for those who know a little about a lot. Other changes in business operations are the technological advances in telecommunications which make the physical location of office workers irrelevant (Dmytrenko 1992). Telecommuting is fast becoming a business segment unto itself. Studies show that employees that telecommute are happier and more efficient, and businesses see it as a cost effective alternative that comes with productivity gains and environmental improvements.
In those jobs that support customers calling in, the working location of the employee is transparent to the caller so service is not impacted. There are complications in defining and measuring the information industry. They underscore some of the complexities encountered when speaking of an Information Age. From one point of view, information has always been so much a part of the whole economy that it makes little sense to speak of a “new” information age (Duncan 1994). However, the plan to face the challenges posed by the information age is clear.
The organizations and individuals alike need to make sure that the information technology and the information handled by it are used to enhance the dignity of entire mankind (Mason 1986). To achieve this, a new social contract needs to be formulated which enables and ensures everyone’s right to be at their best potential. In the new social contract the information should be accurate and should protect the viability of fixed conduit resource through which it is transferred to avoid noise and jamming pollutions. It should protect the sanctity of intellectual property to avoid the indignities of “disemmindment” of knowledge from individuals.
And last but not the least an information system should be accessible to avoid the indignities of information illiteracy and deprivation (Mason 1986). Endnotes 1. Computer Weekly (2005) Making sense of information age. Computer Weekly, 00104787, 9/20/2005 2. Dmytrenko, April, L. , (1992)
The information age has arrived or `much ado about everything’, Records Management Quarterly, 10502343, Oct92, Vol. 26, Issue 4 3. Duncan, Joseph W. , (1994) The Information Age on Shaky Foundations, Challenge, 05775132, Jan/Feb94, Vol. 37, Issue 1 4. Mason Richard, O. , (1986) Four Ethical Issues of the Information Age. MIS Quarterly, March 1986.