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Digital Age

Digital Age is a term that refers to the period in which computer technology became part and parcel of everyday life. This time period began with the popularization of the personal computer during the late 1970s. In 1991, the world wide web was launched, making the information available to everyone.

The digital age, also called the information age is defined as the period starting in the 1970s with the introduction of the personal computer with subsequent technology introduced providing the ability to transfer information freely and quickly.

The Digital Revolution also known as The Third Industrial Revolution is the shift from mechanical and analog electronic technology to digital electronics which began anywhere from the late 1950s to the late 1970s with the adoption and proliferation of digital computers and digital record keeping that continues to the present day.

The Information Age is a historic period in the 21st century characterized by the rapid shift from traditional industry that the industrial revolution brought, through industrialization, to an economy based on information technology.

The onset of the information age can be associated with the development of transistor technology, particularly the mosfet (metal-oxide-semiconductor-field-effect transistor) which became the fundamental building block of digital electronics and revolutionized modern technology. According to the United Nations Public Administration Network, the information age was formed by capitalizing on computer micro miniaturization advances, which upon broader usage within society would lead to modernized information and to communication processes becoming the driving force of social evolution.

Library Expansion and Moore’s Law

Library expansion was calculated in 1945 by Fremont Rider to double in capacity every 16years were sufficient space made available. He advocated replacing bulky, decaying print works with miniaturized microform analog photographs, which could be duplicated on-demand for library patrons and other institutions. Rider did not foresee, however the digital technology that would follow decades later to replace analog microform with digital imaging storage, and transmission media, whereby vast increases in the rapidly of information growth would be made possible through automated, potentially lossless digital technologies.

Accordingly, Moore’s Law formulated around 1965, would calculate that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years. By the early 1980s, along with improvements in computing power the proliferation of the smaller and less expensive personal computers allowed for immediate access to information and the ability to share and store for increasing number of workers.

Information Transmission

The worlds 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, the information equivalent of 174 newspapers per person per day.

The worlds effective capacity to exchange information through two-way telecommunication was 281 petabytes of (optimally compressed) exabytes in 2000: and 65 (optimally compressed) exabytes in 2007, 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 the ability to share information in business and homes globally. Technology was developing so quickly that a computer costing $3000 in 1997 would cost $2000 two years later and $1000 the following year.

Jobs and Income Distribution.

The information age has affected the workforce is several ways, such as compelling workers to compete in a global job market. One of the most evident concerns is the replacement of human labour by the computers that can do their jobs and more effectively, creating a situation in which individuals who preform tasks that can easily be automated are forced to find employment where their labour is not as disposable. This especially creates issues for those in industrial cities where solutions typically involves lowering work time, which is often highly resisted.

These individuals who lose their jobs may be pressed to move up into joining ‘Mind Workers’ (e.g; engineers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, professors, scientists, executives, journalists, consultants) who are able to compete successfully in the world market and receive high wages.

Along with automation, jobs traditionally associated with the middle class (e.g; assembly line, data processing, management and supervision) have also begun to disappear as a result of outsourcing. Unable to compete with those in developing countries production and service workers in post-industrial (i.e developed) societies either lose their jobs through outsourcing, accept wage cuts, or settle for low-skill, low-wage service jobs.

In the past, the economic fate of individuals would be tied to that of their nations, for example; workers in the United States were once well-paid in comparison to those in other countries. With the advent of the information age and improvements in communication, this is no longer the case as workers must now compete in a global job market, whereby wages are less dependent on the success or failure of individual economies.

In effectuating a globalized workforce, the internet has just as well allowed for increased opportunity in developing countries making it possible for workers in such places to provide in person services, therefore competing directly with their competitive advantage translates into increased opportunities and higher wages.

Automation, Productivity and Job Gain

The information age has affected the workforce in that automation and computerization have resulted in higher productivity coupled with net job loss in manufacturing. 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%

Although it initially appeared that the job loss in the industrial sector might be partially offset by the rapid growth of jobs in information technology, the recession of March 2001 foreshadowed a sharp drop in the number of jobs in the sector. This pattern of decrease in jobs would continue until 2003, and data has shown that overall technology creates more jobs that it destroys even in the short run.

Concerns Over The Digital Revolution

While there have been huge benefits to society from the digital revolution, especially in terms of accessibility of information, there are a number of concerns; Expanded powers of communication and information sharing, increased capabilities of existing technologies, and the advent of new technology brought with it many potential opportunities for exploitation.

The digital revolution helped usher in a new age of mass surveillance, generating a range of new civil and human rights issues. Reliability of data became an issue as information could easily be replicated, but not easily verified. The digital revolution made it possible to store and track facts, articles and statistics.

Digital Technology and the Future

Digital technology has transformed almost every aspect of modern day life. Travel, work, shopping, entertainment and communications are just some areas that have been revolutionized over the decades. Its’s now rare to find an electronic device or piece of machinery that doesn’t incorporate digital technology one way or another.

Digital technology means that devices can be more compact, faster, lighter and more versatile. Huge amounts of information can be stored locally or remotely and moved around virtually instantaneously. Even the term “information” has expanded to include media such as photos, audio and video, and no longer refers to just words and numbers.

Digital technology makes it easy to stay in touch with friends, family and work remotely even if you are in another part of the world. You can communicate by words, video, audio and exchange other media. Websites, apps and software have all been created to help users to socialize. With social media, messaging, texting, laptops, tablets and mobile phones, nobody need feel isolated in the digital world. News and local events update users regularly.

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2 Comments

  1. Reply

    This is so interesting. I never thought of the progress like this but it does make a lot of sense. Can I ask… where do you think it is going?

    • Reply

      Hi Catherine, with technology moving so fast it’s hard to predict where it’s going, but with cars now being driven with out a driver and seeing robots being shown to do house hold chores, it goes to show that the digital age in the future will change the way we live our lives.

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