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Social Sci LibreTexts

16.2C: Postindustrial Societies: The Birth of the Information Age

  • Page ID
    8470
  • In the “Information Age,” individuals can transfer and have instant access to information, leading to a profound economic transformation.

     

    LEARNING OBJECTIVES

     

    Examine the impact the Information Age has on the accessibility and breadth of information available to society

     

    KEY TAKEAWAYS

    Key Points

     

    • The Information Age formed by capitalizing on the computer microminiaturization advances, with a transition spanning from the advent of the personal computer in the late 1970s to the Internet reaching a critical mass in the early 1990s.
    • Though the Internet itself has existed since 1969, it was the invention of the World Wide Web in 1989 by British scientist Tim Berners-Lee and its implementation in 1991 that allowed the Internet to truly became a global network.
    • In the latter decades of the 20th century, the industrial world has been shifting into a service economy, where an increasing number of people hold jobs as clerks in stores, office workers, teachers, nurses, etc.

     

    Key Terms

     

    • service economy: Service economy refers to the increased importance of the service sector compared to the manufacturing sector. The service economy in developing countries is mostly concentrated in financial services, hospitality, retail, health, human services, information technology, and education.
    • the internet: A global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard internet protocol suite (often called TCP/IP, although not all applications use TCP) to serve billions of users worldwide. It is a network of networks that consists of millions of private, public, academic, business, and government networks, of local to global scope, that are linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless, and optical networking technologies.
    • Information Age: The current era, characterized by the increasing importance and availability of information (especially by means of computers), as opposed to previous eras (such as the Industrial Age) in which most endeavors related to some physical, man-made process or product.

    The Information Age is a concept that characterizes the current age by the ability of individuals to transfer information freely and have instant access to information that would have been difficult or impossible to access in the past. The idea is linked to the concept of a digital age or digital revolution, as most of this information is instantaneously available online. It carries with it the ramifications of a shift from an industrialized economy to an economy based on the manipulation of information, or an information society.

    The Information Age formed by capitalizing on computer microminiaturization advances. The transition spans from the advent of the personal computer in the late 1970s to the Internet reaching a critical mass in the early 1990s, with the public’s adoption of the Internet in the two decades following 1990. The Information Age has allowed rapid global communications and networking to shape modern society due to the fast evolution of technology use in daily life.

    Though the Internet itself has existed since 1969, it was the invention of the World Wide Web in 1989 by British scientist Tim Berners-Lee and its implementation in 1991 that allowed the Internet to truly became a global network. Today, the Internet has become the ultimate platform for accelerating the flow of information and is the fastest-growing form of media.

    image

     

    Internet Usage: This graph shows the drastic increase in Internet usage, indicative of the pervasiveness of the Information Age.

    Concurrently, during the 1980s and 1990s in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Western Europe, there was a steady trend away from people holding Industrial Age manufacturing jobs. An increasing number of people held jobs as clerks in stores, office workers, teachers, nurses, etc. Many argue that 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, attorneys, scientists, professors, executives, journalists, consultants, etc.), or settle for low-skill, low-wage service jobs.