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(2) The Information Revolution

Aims and objectives

The previous section dealt with the relationship between technology and society from a historical perspective. This section will deal with the same relationship from the perspective of 'Futurists' such as Alvin Toffler.

The objective of this section are you will be able to characterize the nature of the information revolution and can critically evaluate the view that this is the engine that drives wider changes in society.

You might like to begin by looking at a set of lectures on the information society by Daniel Chandler and Ewan Sutherland as a broad introduction to the features of the "Information Revolution". A good starting point for the utopian view of the emergent information society is A Magna Carta for the Electronic Age by Toffler and Cyberspace and the American Dream.


Toffler et al describe three waves of technologically lead revolutions and argue that we are "... living on the edge of the Third Wave" that will have "... profound implications for the nature and meaning of property, of the marketplace, of community and of individual freedom. As it emerges, it shapes new codes of behavior that move each organism and institution -- family, neighborhood, church group, company, government, nation -- inexorably beyond standardization and centralization, as well as beyond the materialist's obsession with energy, money and control."

As an alternative, you might like to read The Promise and Peril of the Third Wave by Carl Davidson, Ivan Handler and Jerry Harris. They argue that "The advent of the third wave is by no means a twinkling, pain less shift into a utopian wonderland. It is more like a hurricane, leaving disorder and destruction in its wake." You might also look at a critique of the Magna Carta for the Electronic Age in feedmag.

The material in this section is also dealt with in the section on The Information Revolution from the MIS course. Finally, this section will form the basis for the evaluation of "IT and work" and "IT and society" that form the remainder of the course (see course overview).




  1. IT(1) - Information Technology: Social Issues - A Reader, Ed. Finnegan. R, Salaman. G and Thompson. K., The Open University/Hodder and Stoughton., 1994.
  2. IT(2) - Information Technology and Society: A Reader, Ed Heap. N., Thomas. R., Einon. G. and MacKay. H., The Open University/Sage, 1994.
  3. P+C - People and Chips: Human Implications of Information Technology, Rowe. C and Thompson. J, Mcgraw Hill, 1996
  4. SIT - Chaps 1 to 4 in Social Issues in Technology, Alcorn. P. Prentice Hall, 1997. pp 3 - 85.

Some Additional Reading (in library)

  1. Bell. D. The Coming of the Post Industrial Society: A Venture in Social Forecasting. Heinemann, 1974.
  2. Bell. D. The Social Framework of the Information Society in The microelectronics revolution., Ed T. Forrester., Basil Blackwell, 1980.
  3. Ellul. J. The Technological Society, Random House, 1964
  4. Featherstone. M. Global Culture: Nationalism, Globalization and Modernity, Sage, 1994.
  5. Hi-tech society: The story of the information technology revolution., Forester T., Basil Blackwell, 1982.
  6. Hiltz. S.R. and Turoff. M. The Network Nation: Human Communication via Computer. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1978 and 1993.
  7. Moor. J. H. What is Computer Ethics? Metaphilosophy 16(4), October 1985, pp 266 - 275.
  8. Lyon. D. From Post Industrialism to Information Society: a New social Transformation?, Sociology, 20(4), 1986, pp 577 - 588.
  9. Naisbitt. J. Re-inventing the corporation: transforming your job and your company for the new information society. Macdonald, 1986.
  10. Naisbitt. J. Megatrends: ten new directions transforming our lives. Macdonald, 1984.
  11. Toffler. A. The Futurists, Random House 1972.
  12. Toffler. A. The Third Wave. Pan, 1980.

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