Did you realize that? I didn’t…
I decided to do some research on this topic after being inspired from a few interesting comments. I was watching a video from Google Talks, their author series. This one was by Cory Doctorow and the comments were that (1) we are living in the Information Age (2) and we are handicapping technology users in America.
I guess I never really thought about what “age” I am living in, who does?
So, what is the information age anyway? Well, first of all no one seems to know. The wikipedia article is a mess, covered in banners stating its errors. Britannica and Encarta don’t even have an entry for it. Several web definitions of it are available, but just as useless (i.e. – information is knowledge and age is a period in time…). Here are the best ones I could find:
period of widespread access to information: a period characterized by widespread electronic access to information through the use of computer technology. 
The period beginning around 1970 and noted for the abundant publication, consumption, and manipulation of information, especially by computers and computer networks. 
Here is the funny thing though. Several other articles said that the Information Age started in the 1980s not the 1970s. Another stated that it begain with the invention of the telegraph, 1800s. 
Ok, so no date, no generally accepted meaning, and mass confusion. No wonder so many people are struggling in our current “age”.
This leads me to the second comment that struck a chord with me. Cory mentions how silly DRM and America’s copyright laws are. Especially, when viewed in connection with our progress through the “Information Age”. Basically, saying that America’s strongest and brightest technology users and handcuffed. They are told that their innovations are criminal and that they are stealing (in regards to music, movies, etc). He tossed out a number that 70 million Americans are categorized this way.
Wow, what a staggering number and the corresponding cascade of thoughts it unleashed:
* Are we preventing economic growth simply through DRM?
* Is America denying its leading role in the Information Age?
** And, is that why “old thinkers” avoid the computers and the internet?
* What would be a better way?
* What if we unleashed that 70 million to push the boundaries further?
I am still working through all of this. However, one thing does seem clear to me. America is not embracing its role in the Information Age. Worse yet, most people are afraid of the Information Age. They think of it as a degradation of our culture and our way of life. Interesting, because, like Cory points out, it is some of the same thoughts that were put forth in the rough transition period from the Agricultural age to the Industrial age….
Might I toss out that, perhaps, in light of the previous statements, that the Information Age is just beginning?
Here is the video:
I sincerely doubt it’s possible to get any empirical definition of when the infoage started. Just as it’s hard to define when a child becomes an adult. But in any case, the definition becomes more clear as time progresses — it’s always harder to identify when we’re living it.
We live in an exciting time in the history of mankind. It’s so easy to forget that. Only a few decades ago, big news and scientific discoveries that catapulted our daily lives overnight were a lot harder to come by.
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