The purpose of this chapter is to define the evolution and key indicators of the information society that is being triggered by the Information Wave of the last 25 years. Several types of the information society from the point of view of information-communication technology (ICT) will be reviewed and their developmental paths will be defined. The fast development of the global economy based on information-communication technology (ICT) is supported by the information society, because without this technology it would be rather impossible to perceive information society. Depending on the different levels of a given country’s development, the information society has different levels of complexity and influence on the global economy and vice versa. Hence, it is important to recognize the information society’s different trends of development and their solutions and internal and external consequences. A question appears whether the information society is a new tool of thought or a new way of life. The answer to this question is provided in this chapter.
The Forces Of Change
The “information society” is a fuzzy concept. It is considered the answer to the problems created by the postindustrial modus operandi. In a modern economy, growth is owed to advances in information-communication technology. By the beginning of the 21st century, the need for information handling and processing in world societies is being shaped by the following trends:
Politics in the post-Cold War Era. A new world order may lead to the formation of 1,000 countries and a highly decentralized “international society.” This physical trend of disintegration will require tools to integrate such entities informationally. Eventually, this new system of nations will be based on a new information-communication infrastructure, which needs new information-communication systems and services.
Democratization and peacemaking. Societies would like to be better informed; therefore, they need more communication based on free speech and solutions like the Internet.
Globalizing information. This is caused by the proliferation of ICT and is a major driving force in the trans-nationalization of the world economy. Eastabrooks (1988) predicts that programmed capitalism in a computer-mediated society will integrate all national markets and create one international market.
The globalizing economy. A network of 50 global corporations now “rules the world,” because they apply the global information infrastructure. ICT is at the core of the current process of economic globalization (Madon, 1997).
Population growth and health threats. In 2025 there will be about 8-9 billion people, who will generate at least twice as many transactions as are currently processed today. This means more needs for ICT capacity.
Global environmental threats. If these threats are considered seriously, then there is a need for planetary management and ecology. This new management and ecology will require monitoring information-communication systems and services.
A new path for development. Since the gap between rich and poor nations continues to widen, a world focused on people is being created. This undertaking requires new concepts of human security, new models of sustainable human development, new partnerships between state and market, new patterns of national and global governance, and new forms of international corporations (Boutros-Ghali, 1994). This trend requires more education and research, which will necessitate the formation of “knowledge” and “learning” societies (Marien, 1995).
As society, particularly the information society, becomes more interconnected, we face a loss of boundaries, throwing into question the basic conceptual distinctions we use to make sense of the world. As society becomes more complex and takes on more variety and differentiated configurations, the capacity of existing regulatory (governance) systems is being overwhelmed. A group of 14 Canadian public servants offered the following new focus how to govern in the information society (Rossel, 1992):