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The Dawn of Digital Era
BMoss April, 2012 (c)

Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote in 1851: By means of electricity, 
the world of matter has become a great nerve, vibrating 
thousands of miles in breathless point of time.The round 
globe is vast- brain, instinct with intelligence.  

Since then, humanity has not stopped to realize Hawthorne's 
vision of a world where the human intelligence is networked.
Into the 21st century, the global society lives in the frontiers 
of digital age. Mass customization is taking over mass- production. 
The consumer of today applies their specific knowledge, tastes,
expectations and demands on producers who have to able to 
meet these in order to succeed. We are in the era of knowledge 
based economy

The internet has existed since 1969. British scientist
 Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989 
and fully implemented by 1991, thus the beginning of a global 
network. It is today's ultimate platform for disseminating information 
globally, its growth is beyond exponential. Is the print media as we 
know today be a thing of yesteryears, pushed to obsolescence?

The I-WAY has created an information society.This has a 
significant impact on the economic, political, social, cultural, 
scientific, medical, educational and technological arena. 
Networked technology introduced the world to digitalization.
It opens up the creation, distribution, integration, diffusion, 
use and manipulation of  information in many creative and 
productive ways. Knowledge economy creates  wealth through 
the exploitation of knowledge and understanding. Beniger 
states that people who have the means to partake in this 
form of society are referred to as digital citizens,
 one of the many labels that ushers in a new phase 
of society into the 21st century.

The growth of information in society
There is no definite or universally accepted meaning of
what exactly is information society. Theories bounce 
around as to this transformation in society that started 
back in 1970's.  Internet is not the only information 
technology that is widely used. There are specific 
media and modes of production that influences the 
changing ways of society. The growth of technologically 
mediated information has been quantified in different 
ways, including society's technological capacity to 
store information, to communicate information, 
and to compute information. 

Touraine wrote in 1988 referring to the programmed 
society-  this phrase captures its capacity to create 
models of management, production, organization,
distribution and consumption, such a society appears 
at all functional levels, as the product of an action 
exercised by society itself, not the outcome of natural
 laws or cultural specificities.

In the dawn of networked technology, information of all 
sorts becomes digital, reduced to bits stored in computers,
races at the speed of light across the global networks. It 
is a new world of possibilities. The digital whirlwind is 
sweeping society.This digital growth is quantified in different 
ways. It handles  how society stores information, communicate
 and compute the data. The technical capacity to store information 
grew from (optimally compressed) 2.6 exabytes in 
1986 to  295 exabytes in 2007.This shows a 
60% growth per year over the past two decades. explains:
1,024 gigabytes is one terabyte, and 1,024 terabytes is 
one petabyte. To put this in perspective, a petabyte is 
about one million gigabytes (1,048,576).In the late 1980s, 
a large hard disk was considered 80 megabytes. 

Today, that amount of space doesn’t even hold a current 
Windows operating system without butting up 
against storage limits. Robust programs, music files, 
digital versatile discs (DVDs), streaming video and 
high-resolution graphics have all become memory-hungry
beasts devouring real estate bit by byte. It would have 
been unthinkable in the 1980s that the home computer
would one day require tens and even hundreds of gigabytes 
to store data. Though the petabyte still lies beyond the 
territory of the terabyte, who can say where the home 
computer will be in another two decades?

With the influx of computers, CD-ROMS, hard drives, 
USB flash drives, and other discs, the byte can not hold 
larger values. With the larger volumes of information, 
more bytes are needed:

kilobyte -KB- is 1,024 bytes, but most relate it to 1000 bytes. Megabyte-MB- is 1,024 kilobytes Gigabyte -GB- is 1,024 megabytes Terabyte -TB- is 1,024 gigabytes Petabyte- PB- is 1,024 terabytes Exabyte-EB- is 1,024 petabytes Zettabyte-ZB- 1,024 exabytes Yottabyte-YB- is 1,024 zettabytes

Note: many hardware and hard drive manufacturers think of a kilobyte as 1,000 bytes. from Perils The automobile changed the world in many ways, economically, physically and socially. Mechanized agriculture is the only way to farm. The discovery of the printing press was a real big deal- it facilitated the printing of books, as against the laborious handwritten texts. The interactive multimedia once again, is very rapidly changing the face of the world. At first, the internet's most popular use was for e-mails and chat rooms. Then comes social networks, add telecommuting ,vlogging, and who knows what will come next. Already, there is a dark side to the digital world. There is fear that technology will bring unemployment, numbing of minds and invasion of privacy. In his book- Digital Economy, Don Tapscott writes that the digital world, while it offers exciting promise, there is also a dark side. Social stratification, massive social dislocation and conflict are perils that man faces with this digitalization. Violence and suffering can be seen worldwide instantly, not just in poor countries. There are new social, ethical and government issues that will surface as time goes on. What lies ahead Critical scholars say that major critiques of concepts like information society, knowledge society, network society, post modern society, post industrial society and other labels tend to create the impression that we are entering into a totally new type of society. Frank Webster argues that this kind of approach stress discontinuity, that contemporary society has nothing in common with society as it was 100 nor 150 years ago. He argues that these assumptions mean, nothing can be done, ideologically, that there is nothing society can do and just have to adapt to the existing reality. Webster insists on the continuities that characterize change. He stresses the different epoch of capitalism, that is, the laizzez-faire of the 19th century, corporate capitalism in the 20th century and informational capitalism for the 21st century. You, society, be the judge. Ref Wikipedia Digital Economy by Don Tapscott Alvin Toffler

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