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The Impact of Information Technology on Work and Society

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The aim of this paper is to provide a brief review of some of the key technological developments that have taken place in information technology and how these developments have had an influence on the way we work and on society in general, in the so many years.

MEANING OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: Kathleen Guinee wrote, “By information technology, I mean the tools we use to perform calculations, to store and manipulate text, and to communicate. Some of these twentieth century tools include: the adding machine, slide rule, and calculator for performing calculations, the typewriter and word processor for processing text, and the telephone, radio, and television for communicating”.
It is a technology that is used to store, manipulate, distribute or create information. The type of information or data is not important. The technology is any method capable of processing this data.
Information Technology is also for the “general society”. It can be a community, nation, or broad grouping of people having common traditions, institutions, and collective activities and interests.
IT AND SOCIETY: The growth and diffusion of the information and communication technologies (ICTs) has been unique in so many ways. It has led to the rapidity of the developments in the field. It has also the capacity to transform industry and business has led to great expectations of their potential to help developing countries to quicken the developmental stages to achieve rapid social and economic growth. Technology and society or technology and culture refers to cyclical co-dependence, co-influence, co-production of technology and society upon the other; technology upon culture, and culture upon technology.
This synergistic association occurred from the sunrise of civilization, with the creation and design of simple tools and continues into modern technologies such as the printing press and computers.

PRE HISTORAL: The significance of stone tools, is measured fundamental in human development in the hunting hypothesis. Mobile phones, Internet access, are examples of the cycle of co-production. The need to be able to call on people and be available everywhere resulted in the research and development of mobile phones. They in turn influenced the way we live our lives. As the public relies more and more on mobile phones, extra features were added. This is also applicable with modern media player.
Society also influenced changes to previous generation media players. In the first personal music players, cassettes stored music. However, that method seemed fragile and relatively low fidelity when compact disks came along. Later, availability of MP3 and other compact file formats made compact disks seem too large and limited, so manufactures created MP3 players which are small and hold large amount of data. Societal preferences helped determined the course of events through predictable preferences.
ECONOMICS AND TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT: Technology is such an inseparable part of human society, especially in its economic aspects, funding sources for (new) technological accomplishments are virtually infinite. However, while in the beginning, technological investment involved little more than the time, efforts, and skills of one or a few men, today, such investment may involve the collective labor and skills of many millions.
GOVERNMENT FUNDING FOR NEW TECHNOLOGY: The government is the key provider to the development of new technology in a lot of ways. In most of the developed and developing countries, many government agencies exclusively invest billions of dollars in new technology.
Technology has often been motivated by the military, with many recent applications developed for the military before they were adapted for civilian use. Nevertheless, this has always been a two-way flow, with industry often developing and adopting a technology only later adopted by the military.
INSTITUTIONS AND GROUPS: Technology often enables organizational and bureaucratic group structures that otherwise and heretofore were simply not possible like governments, the military, health and social welfare institutions, supranational corporations, sports events, products, etc.
IT AND ENVIRONMENT: Information and communication technologies provide fascinating tools to monitor environmental change and no other technology includes a similar potential for dematerialization, which means to provide goods and services with much less environmental burden.  But the devices consume also energy and some when they end as electronic waste. The paperless office, which is principally possible, has not yet had a breakthrough and also tele services, which could replace travel, need more support.  Society also controls technology through its choices that includes consumer demands, channels of distribution, how do convert  raw materials to finished goods, the cultural beliefs including style, freedom of choice, acquisitiveness, etc.,  environment, individual wealth, government control, capitalism, etc.
IT AND RELIGION: The influence and uses of technologies in religious practices is also noteworthy. Technology is used technologies in three aspects of religious work: religious study and reflection, church services, and pastoral care and the collaborative religious uses technologies cross and blend work and personal life. The developments in IT have influenced the continuity of social attitudes, customs or institutions.
IT SOCITEY AND CULTURE: The technological developments which have occurred in information technology have influenced an extensive assemblage of community in their widespread traditions, institutions and collective activities. This broad grouping of people will primarily be those in the industrialised world of where “information technology” is commonly available.The development of information technology has influenced the cultural continuity of general society like social attitudes and customs.
Social attitudes have changed with the effect that citizens of a society now expect the various elements of that society to be better informed than previously. They also expect to be able to access more information about a specific product, service or organisation so that they can make informed decisions with regard to their interactions with that entity.

IT AND DEFENCE: Information Technology has also had a foremost impact on the defense capabilities of governments. Advances in weapons technology and weapons design have increased the effectiveness of various governments’ armed forces. For example it would have been impossible to design airplanes such as the B2 Bomber if it were not for the advances made in information technology. It would have been impossible to design or build this machine without the development of computer modeling techniques. Information Technology also has a major impact on a government’s intelligence agencies. Encryption of sensitive information has enabled government to obtain added security.
COMMERCIAL BUSINESSES: The advancement in IT have greatly influenced businesses in quite a lot of ways. The central task of information technology in a commercial business is to provide a commercial benefit. Advances such as computer aided design; relational database technologies, spreadsheets, and word processing software all provide a commercial benefit to the business.  As different businesses try to win over another, the commercial advantage one can have over another may depend primarily on the use of IT.
The use of information technology to scrutinize a business’s performance can also facilitate the business to bring to light the areas where they are not making the most use of their resources. It can further increase the businesses income through advertising in the various available forums. Advances in IT have lead to the television being more widely used today than thirty years ago.
NEWS & MEDIA ORGANISATIONS: IT is used in storing, manipulating, distributing, or creating information. News and media organizations are closely familiar with each of these fundamentals of information technology.
IT AND EDUCATIONAL ORGANISATION: Educational institutions have been influenced in a variety of ways as information technology has developed over the last few years. The most noticeable case has been the opening of information technology related courses in different cities. These courses are introduced to try to suit the demand that society and industry has for skilled people to develop these information technologies. The developments that have occurred in information technology have also had other influences on educational establishments. The processes by which educational institution distribute information have become increasingly diverse, and the effectiveness of the process has also enhanced.
This propagation of IT has facilitated people with disabilities such as those who are blind or visually impaired or physically challenged.
Christopher Murphy wrote, “Of greatest importance to disabled people, perhaps, is the ability of the computer and modem to immerse them into a world that might otherwise be off limits. A disabled person using a computer has access to vast amounts of information at his fingertips. People with disabilities can tap into practical disability-related information or converse with other disabled people. Not only that, they can also enter the mainstream. With the help of these computer devices and advanced software many disabled people can be just as competitive as anyone else.”
CONCLUSION: The purpose of this paper was to provide an overview of the main technological developments that have taken place in information technology and how these developments have had an influence on the working style and on society in general, in the last few years.
It has been shown that the developments in information technology have had an impact on general societies perception of information. Without going into specific detail about individual situations, it has been shown that that impact has been fourfold:
1.    storage
2.    manipulation
3.    distribution
4.    creation
These four areas dealing with information are the four areas in which societies perception of information has changed. As communication and information technologies have been developed, the various elements that makeup society, whether they be individuals or organisations, expect to be able to use information in ways that were not possible thirty years ago. Society expects to be able to store more than was previously conceived. Society expects to be able to manipulate the information they have for their benefit, to increase understanding and discover new relationships. Society expects to be able to distribute information quickly, efficiently and cheaply. Society now expects the creation of new information to be facilitated by these new technologies.
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