The information revolution has been described as 'the biggest technological juggernaut that ever rolled' and every day we hear more about the Global Information Infrastructure. The information and communications technologies (ICTs) of the 1990s enable the electronic production and consumption of increasingly vast quantities of information. They affect business, consumer, education and leisure activity. The consequences of these changes are unpredictable and contradictory, raising issues for governments, business, organizations and individuals. This book gets to grips with recent developments and offers a new understanding of their likely effect. Because of the pervasive and quite unique characteristics of ICTs as a technology system, the authors argue that it is only through an interdisciplinary approach that we can fully grasp the implications and explore the uncertainties of the inter-relationship between the technical and the socio-economic. Moving from economics to sociology and political science in its study of information and communication, this book will be essential reading for all those in these disciplines concerned to understand the ICT challenge.
Two central concepts of design and capability run through the book, and the authors apply them to developments from the micro (domestic) level to the macro (international) level. Based on work done in the major UK research programme PICT (the Programme on Information and Communication Technologies), the book is probing and reflective; its purpose is to provide tools of analysis rather than a catalogue of developments. Throughout the authors argue that the information age is about people, social organization, adaptation and control and not just technologies.