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What is the meaning of information society?

The ‘information society’ is a term used to define a new way in which communities organize their society and their economy. This expression has been used since the 1960s and has acquired different meanings. Broadly speaking, it can be defined as a stage in which the development of society is geared towards the production and dissemination of any information instantly.

The meaning of information society
The meaning of information society

For this society to be possible, the different elements that make it up (from human resources to companies and even the different dependencies of the State) have capacities that encourage the development of information.

Thus, within these societies, the number of individuals linked to tasks related to information is greater. While the proportion devoted to jobs that require physical abilities is much lower.

Characteristics of the information society

There are numerous features that characterize the information society. Some of them are:

  • Exuberance: Society develops in a habitat in which large volumes of information (phrases, data, and images) are a constant part of it.
  • Globalization: This constant exchange from and to any point on the globe results in the formation of a globalized society. This means that links and commercial, cultural, political exchanges, among others, that cross national borders are generated.
  • Centrality: In these communities, their individuals receive and send information to and from all parts of the planet. Obviously, there are certain countries or economic regions that stand out for producing and disseminating a greater volume of information than the rest.
  • Technology as an epicenter: For the development of these societies, the evolution of various technological devices that allow the dissemination of information is key.
  • Instantaneity:  The speed with which data and information are transmitted is very high, instantaneous, in addition to which this diffusion requires very few costs and can be done simultaneously.
  • Without barriers: The time and space is not an obstacle to the dissemination of information.

Importance of the information society

The emergence of the information society is determining in several aspects. One of them has to do with what makes access to knowledge more equal. Thus, the power of those who concentrate the monopoly of knowledge is weakened (as happened at the time with the printing press).

This advance then enables the possibility that individuals, beyond the social class to which they belong, can take a leap and occupy certain spaces within the social fabric, which was previously in the hands of that monopoly.

Accessing information becomes much more economical and, at the same time, there are no spatial barriers, but any individual with a technological device can access knowledge that was previously limited, for example, to those who could access a library.

Origin of the information society

The American economist Fritz Machlup was the one who coined the concept “knowledge society” in the 60s. This conception arises as a result of the social and economic transformations that began to take place during those years as a result of technological advances.

At that time, the industrial society began to move towards a new model in which all those knowledge and controls applied in industrial processes began to migrate towards the handling and processing of data and information.

In this way, individuals began to have access to those goods that they themselves and their environment produced while these barriers began to be transferred. While in the early nineteenth century this was seen in material products, with the advance of technology, moved to information and knowledge (always thanks to technological advances).

The increase in the circulation of information brought an impact in various areas such as:

  • In the economy: Modifies the link between companies worldwide and improves their productivity.
  • In personal life: Promotes access to knowledge, services and when interacting with others.
  • In social organizations:  The structures become more horizontal and flexible, as well as facilitating feedback. In addition, the links become much broader: there are no physical or temporary barriers and knowledge is cheaper.

Advantages and disadvantages

As in any form of the social model, there are advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of them:

Disadvantages:

  • Homogenization: Societies tend towards homogeneity by entering into constant contact with other goods, services, and cultures, which can lead to the loss of their traditions and the adoption of other distant ones.
  • Unemployment and Precocity: With technological advances, many tasks that people used to do before were automated and replaced by technology. This destroys sources of employment, generates unemployment and, as a consequence, lends itself to greater precariousness within the labor offers (low wages, informal work, and loss of labor benefits).
  • Loss of privacy: especially with the emergence of social networks, the terrain of intimacy is reduced to its minimum expression.
  • Economic concentration: The globalization also entails a concentration of control and management of the economy, and therefore, an inequality that is observed worldwide.

Advantage:

  • Efficiency: Thanks to the greater flow of data and information, production becomes much more efficient. It produces more and for less cost.
  • Access to goods:  The information became a product that members of any community can access to take advantage of it.
  • Democracy:  The fact that access to information is simple and economical democratizes access to knowledge and provides new tools to people.
  • Communication: The information society facilitates and speeds up communication from different parts of the world.
  • Informed society: That society can access information more easily gives greater freedom when making decisions.

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