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Definition

Information Society

Information Society is a term for a society in which the creation, distribution, and manipulation of information has become the most significant economic and cultural activity. An Information Society may be contrasted with societies in which the economic underpinning is primarily Industrial or Agrarian. The machine tools of the Information Society are computers and telecommunications, rather than lathes or ploughs.

Policy makers for the G7 (now G8) group of nations recognised, only a few years ago, that:

Progress in information technologies and communication is changing the way we live: how we work and do business, how we educate our children, study and do research, train ourselves, and how we are entertained. The information society is not only affecting the way people interact but it is also requiring the traditional organisational structures to be more flexible, more participatory and more decentralised. (Chair's conclusions from the G-7 Ministerial Conference on the Information Society, February 1995.)

The idea of a global Information Society can be viewed in relation to Marshall McLuhan's prediction that the communications media would transform the world into a "global village."

Here is a succinct definition from the IBM Community Development Foundation in a 1997 report, "The Net Result - Report of the National Working Party for Social Inclusion."

Information Society: A society characterised by a high level of information intensity in the everyday life of most citizens, in most organisations and workplaces; by the use of common or compatible technology for a wide range of personal, social, educational and business activities, and by the ability to transmit, receive and exchange digital data rapidly between places irrespective of distance.
This was last updated in April 2005

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