Topic 3 The information age
However it may be defined, information is an important part of our lives. It is said that we live in 'the information age'. What does this mean in practice?
Some people suggest that the revolution in communications which has brought computers, digital TV, smartphones and iPads has had as great an influence on all our lives as the coming of the railways did for our ancestors. But, is there really more information around now than there was a hundred years ago?
Arguably our lives are more complex than those of our grandparents. Certainly, the means by which information can reach us are far more plentiful. And, as the global economy focuses more and more on the sale of goods and services, we are increasingly bombarded with information from people trying to sell us things – products, ideas, beliefs – whether or not we want to listen. At the same time we have more decisions – from very small decisions like which TV channel to watch, to major ones like choosing a school for our children.
Just a few hundred years ago it was possible for one person to read all the books available within a lifetime. Now, it has been estimated that it would take one person several hundred years to read all that has already been published without even looking at what would appear in the course of the time it was taking them to read all that material!