Information Technology: A Curse or a Blessing?
Introduction to Information Technology
Information technology is expanding at unprecedented rates. It is described as using computers to retrieve, send and store information. The Sumerians discovered writing in the region of Mesopotomia (which people referred to as cuneiform). Information has remained significant since.
Computers, in particular, appeared as early as the 1940s. The first programmable machine was Zuse Z3, which also carried out computations. Moreover, after developing transistors in the late 1940s allowed using computers with lower power consumption. Breakthroughs in semiconductors include integrated circuits, microprocessors, and metal oxide semiconductor field effect transistors.
The Rise of Electronic Data Processing
Storing data in electronic mediums dates back to the Second World War. The magnetic drum was invented in 1932. It was the earliest known non-volatile form of storage. IBM intervened in 1956 with the first ever hard disk drive. To this day, most data is stored magnetically and also optically (such as in CDs). By the year 2007, more than 94 percent of global data was in digital format.
By the 1960s, the Database Management System rose to tackle data problems (including retrieving and storing data). Another instance was the IBM’s Information Management System (IMS). The IMS remained popular for 50 years after its initiation.
Likewise, recently, the XML (extensible markup language) began to take over. XML provides advantages such as being readable by machines and humans.
Relational database models introduced the SQL (Structured Query Language) that was based on relational algebra. Nevertheless, most data is unstructured. Therefore, to get around this, companies began constructing data warehouses in the 1980s.
Data transmission in information technology consists of three steps: transmission, propagation and reception. It is otherwise known as broadcasting. Manipulating massive data has become the norm as well, with efforts on presenting it properly.
With the background of information technology in mind, we can now scan the benefits and drawbacks of using IT.
Benefits of Information Technology
With information technology, the demand for skilled IT workers rose (and is continuing to rise). Thus, opportunities are created every single day. Many emerging economies throughout the globe are excelling in the IT field. Consequently, several people are switching to and enrolling in computer programming as a profession.
Information technology means you no longer have to be physically present to reap benefits. Further, it is now possible to work from home, and even on the go! Therefore, productivity is increasing and work is possible without ever coming to the office.
Businesses are becoming more efficient. Buying and selling now knows no boundaries. Companies all over the world are connecting without restrictions. The result? Globalization. Online presence also means rapid economic growth.
Education and health
As we bid goodbye to the days of blackboards and dusty chalk remains, we warmly welcome easy online learning. Today, most (if not all) educational institutions are imparting information technological know-how to their students. An ocean of knowledge is now one click away.
In healthcare, patients are treated in more efficient manners. If they are unable to physically visit the healthcare center, they can log their symptoms to study the possible illnesses! Other examples of advancements in health are tele-medicines, electronic health reports, and health grids.
Information is transmitted at record speeds. Where we once waited for days for a letter to arrive, we can now communicate and share news within microseconds. Using spreadsheets, word processors and database programs help in presenting the information in an aesthetic way.
From online board-games to movies on Netflix: entertainment was never more easily accessible! Even if you’re on a long car-ride, you can simply tap on your phone to start watching your favorite movie. Or perhaps challenge a friend to a Ludo game.
However, information technology has a dark side. Here are some drawbacks to expanding IT.
This may contrast the first advantage of information technology. Nonetheless, IT creates job redundancies, outsourcing and even downsizing. Additionally, computers tend to replace low and middle level jobs. Unfortunately, change is continuous and in business, it is vital to keep up with change.
Despite easy communication, there have been several privacy issues. For instance, there are several cases to this day of hacking, signal interceptions, and even blackmailing using private data. Moreover, large scale companies collect their customers’ data and sell it off to interested parties. Examples include cookies that track your online activity.
Although it is efficient to use IT, it is also costly. Replacing faulty equipment can rake up large sums of money. For companies whose existence depends on information technology, the smallest of errors may cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
With rising globalization, people are forgetting their roots as they embrace the ‘One World’ concept. For some groups, this is a serious issue. For them, their culture is of utmost importance. An example is the United States and its inevitable influence on the way teenagers around the world dress, act and behave.
All in all, information technology has changed the world in ways we could not have imagined. But when used properly and appropriately, it has caused economies to flourish. While we must not underestimate information technology, we must definitely not shun it either.