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information society

information society A society in which low cost information technology, computers, and telecommunications are widely used to facilitate communication nationally and internationally, and to promote access to libraries, data archives, and other stores of information held by private organizations or in the public domain. It is argued that this greater facility of communication and increased access to information creates a qualitatively different society with attendant new problems, such as information overload, and the need for new forms of regulation to control information flows between persons, companies, and countries. Whereas market economies have traditionally been geared towards solving the problem of scarcity, information will practically by definition lead to problems of abundance, and questions about how tools should be developed to manage that abundance.

The digital convergence of information and communication technologies in the late 1990s constituted a major step forward for the information society, energizing every economic sector, opening up the potential for new products and services in the twenty-first century that are still being developed in business, the media, arts, and public administration. Some have argued that there will be a further transition from an information economy to a knowledge society, leading to renewed emphasis on lifelong learning and investment in education. Another consequence that is already in progress is the expansion of home-based work and neighbourhood work centres replacing public transport and the car for bringing together the worker and (white-collar) work. Similarly, new technologies permit certain types of white-collar work to be carried out anywhere in the world, leading to the globalization of enterprises and increased competition. See also CYBERSOCIETY; INTERNET.

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