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Chapter 1. Convergence and the Informati... > HISTORIC PRETEXT FOR THE INFORMATION...

HISTORIC PRETEXT FOR THE INFORMATION ECONOMY

Just as the invention of the steam engine sparked the industrial revolution of the 1800s, the computer has brought about a revolution equal in social, political, and economic significance. Marked by the ability to process and manipulate data and, more important, the knowledge that it embodies, the information revolution is truly changing the ways in which value is created in our global economy.

Data, in the form of digital bits, is quickly becoming the basis for a new type of economic product—a virtual commodity that drives the continuing demand for the communications infrastructure and computing devices that comprise the massive Information Technology (IT) industry. The importance of digital data as the basis for the information economy can be best understood by comparing it to the commodity that provided the impetus for our civilization's earliest advancements: water. The development and success of history's great civilizations, like the Egyptians, Romans, and Moors, was largely determined by their superior ability to control the flow of water. Infrastructure technologies, like aqueducts and reservoirs, were developed to harness the power of water, which, in turn, provided the basis for other societal advancements of the agrarian era. Crop irrigation enabled the ability to produce surplus food supplies. Food surpluses enabled greater divisions of labor that eventually evolved into the complex systems of global economic commerce that we experience in modern society.


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