Informational revolution
2006-07-21       From Wikipedia
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Informational revolution

The Informational Revolution is one of the theoretical frameworks within which trends in current society can be conceptualized. Many competing terms have been proposed, which focus on different aspects of these trends.

The British polymath crystallographer J. D. Bernal (1939) writing in the late 1930's introduced the term Scientific and Technical Revolution in his book "The Social Function of Science" to describe the new role science and technology are coming to play. His main approach was based on "science becoming a production force", suitably formulated in the Marxist's framework. After some controversy the term was taken up by authors and Institutions of the then-Soviet Block. Their aim was to show that socialism was the safe home for the Scientific Technical Revolution, referred to via the acronym STR. The book edited by Randovan Richta (1969) became a standard reference for this topic.

Daniel Bell (1980) soon challenged this approach with his Post Industrial Society, which also took the view that the current trend is towards a service economy, rather than socialism. A lot of other authors presented their views, including Z. Brzezinski (1976) with his "Technetronic Society".

The theory of the STR is poorly conceptualized, for many reasons. Marx mainly envisaged technology entering the economy via new production machinery, that is machine embodied technology. His two-sector model also takes no provision for the role of technology. None of the economic models worked out by Soviet-era economists took seriously technological inputs into account. The influence of Ricardo (1978) on Marx (1977) was evident.

Bell's approach is also flawed. Bell followed Colin Clark (1940) in dividing the economy into three economic sectors, namely primary sector (agriculture, mining, etc), secondary sector (manufacturing) and tertiary sector ("services"). Clark's model is not suited for the new economy because his third sector is the left-overs of the other two So, for instance, retailing or personal care services are included in the tertiary sector together with telecoms and information technology businesses. Confusion only can follow from this. Also, the use of the term 'post' shows in any case poor conceptualization of a social phenomenon, since it is simply placing the current phenomenon in succession to the previous one, without any ontological consideration.

The main feature of the new economy is Information. Information is together with Matter and Energy the building blocks of the Universe. Information is also the central theme of the new sciences, which emerged in the 1940s, including Shannon's (1949) Information Theory and Wiener's (1948) Cybernetics. Information is further an economic activity, since firms and institutions are involved in the production, distribution, processing and transmission of Information. Labor is also divided between manual and informational labor.

A new economic sector is required, namely the Information Sector, which would absorb activities from the second and the third. Porat (1976) measured the Information Sector in the US using the input-output approach; OECD has included statistics on the Information Sector in the economic reports of its member countries. Veneris (1984, 1990) explored the theoretical, economic and regional aspects of the Informational Revolution and developed a systems dynamics simulation computer model. The term Revolution should be preferred instead of terms such as "economy" or "society", in order to par the previously used terms Agricultural Revolution and Industrial Revolution.

Editor: yangyousan