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Life in the Information Age and Its Impact on Society Today

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The first ever general purpose computer was built more than 50 years ago ( ENIAC – 1946 ), but it is worth mentioning that it filled a 50 – foot long basement room and weighed 30 tons. Today I took a computer with me in a rucksack. And I guess that you have one in your pocket. Computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones. We can’t imagine our personal or professional lives without them.

The first retail product sold using a barcode scanner was a pack of Wrigley’s chewing gum in 1974. A barcode scan is fast and error-free and it’s not just the grocery shopping we need it for. It is a user – friendly and inexpensive tool that can help any company to be more efficient.

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Internet

From Cold War defensive measure through research and educational network to the internet we know today ( first ideas in 1962, www invented by Tim Berners-Lee from CERN in 1989, internet fully commercialized by 1995 ). It has come a long way but it’s a technology used by over half of the world’s population. And that is impressive. Its advantages – communication and information sharing.Email, video conferencing, chat rooms, e-commerce, learning, banking, advertising, and so on… All available to us just because of the Internet.

Social media

Facebook started in 2004 and then Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Flickr, Meetup, Snapchat, etc.There are over 3 billion social media users around the world. And the number continues to grow. Social networks give us than a great opportunity to connect not just with friends and family but also with potential customers.

Robotics – Robot comes from the Czech word ‘robota’ which means ‘forced work or labor’. Most robots today are used for repetitive actions or dangerous jobs. We have robotic manufacturing, medical robotics, we use them in agriculture, military and even in space.

VR

They aren’t just for the gaming industry. Amazon is working on a drone delivery system, in Africa, they are used to deliver medical supplies. In the fitness industry, VR can make people feel more motivated to work out. We can say that IT transformed many industries – agriculture, healthcare, retail, transportation, energy, manufacturing, etc. But to fully understand how IT can help manage and develop our businesses, we should examine how IT has changed society in terms of living, working and socializing.

Many businesses are using the effect of IT on society in their favor. We can read in a book Computers, Phones, and the Internet: Domesticating Information Technology, that TV broadcasters understand the ability of television to ‘kill’ time or ‘steal’ time from activities that its users actually prefer doing. Knowing that viewers will typically (and maybe not deliberately ) continue watching their channel, they broadcast unproven shows after highly popular ones.But research shows that Internet use is replacing television viewing.

How the Internet Affects Our Lives?

First, we can take a look at the image number 1.It shows daily Internet activities of U.S. adults on a randomly selected day. Results are from the Pew Internet and American Life Project ( 2004 ). We can see that the most popular activity is Email. Internet greatly helps users to stay in contact with friends and family members in ways that were not possible before. As well, it helps to find new friends with common interests. There are concerns, though, that Internet usage and the ability to communicate through chat rooms, social media, Email, and SMS actually takes people away from face-to-face interactions.

On the other hand, Internet and mobiles help to preserve old friendships after moving away ( high school friendships, for example, after moving to college).

And someone can claim that interacting with strangers online improves real-life relationships because it transforms a naturally shy person into a confident and outgoing one. Socializing online refers especially to teenagers. As well as gaming, surfing the web for fun, listening and downloading music and learning. IT has dramatically changed the teaching and learning process. Students can find an enormous amount of knowledge on the Internet and they can take various online courses. Those online courses are accessible to anyone and they can help improve performance at work, at school, or just sate one’s curiosity.According to the Pew Internet Project, lots of Internet users go online for healthcare information. As a result, patients usually spend only 10 to 15 minutes with a general practitioner because they come to an appointment already well-informed and knowing what questions they would like to ask. We can say that online healthcare information is changing the way how people interact with the health care system.

I already stated that IT transformed many industries but those transformations changed the way people work.50 years ago, jobs for men usually involved physical work. Technology helped to produce more sedentary and mental work. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to sit in the office from 9 to 5. Nowadays, we can work from anywhere, even from the comfort of our homes. Automation is reducing human intervention to a minimum. UNIMATE was the first industrial robot designed by George Devol in 1954 and was installed by General Motors in its automotive plant in 1962. Modern industrial robots are becoming more versatile. Cobots – collaborative robots – can work alongside humans. Amazon started to engage them in 2012.

Without cobots, an Amazon warehouse worker would have to walk between 7 to 15 miles per shift. A spokesman for the company said in 2015: ”We like to think of it as a symphony of software, machine learning, computer algorithms, and people.”Construction Robotics, for example, has developed a bricklaying cobot called the Sam100, which can lay around 2000 bricks a day, while working collaboratively with masons and reducing lifting by 80%. That’s an example of how IT is reducing physical labour. The computer even made it possible for artisans to express themselves more than ever before. For instance, using CAD – computer-aided design software- in the jewellery industry helps jewellers create pieces they couldn’t create by hand before.

At the end of this presentation, as an explanation of the impact on individuals of living in the information age, we can imagine a family living 50 years ago. Mother is reading a book which she borrowed from the library while cooking a dinner from her mother’s cookbook. Father is reading a DIY magazine and their teenage daughter is outside playing with her friends.And now imagine the 21st-century family. Mother is reading a Kindle while cooking from bbcgoodfood.com. Father is on his phone checking reviews of a drill he would like to buy online. And their teenage daughter is posting images of herself on Instagram because she has a new haircut.’It is difficult to disentangle technology from society, as new otcomes evolve through the continous translation of meaning between the two ( Latour, 2000 ). Machines are neither slaves nor merely imposed, but increasingly live in symbiosis with us.’ (Computers, Phones, and Internet Domesticating Information Technology.)

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