Unit 1: The Technology Revolution
OUR INFORMATION SOCIETY
In an information society, knowledge workers focus their energies on providing myriad information services. The knowledge worker's job function revolves around the use, manipulation, and dissemination of information. Learning about computers is an adventure that will last a lifetime because information technology (IT), the integration of computing technology and information processing, is changing daily. The computer revolution is transforming the way we communicate, do business, and learn. This technological revolution is having a profound impact on the business community and on our private and professional lives. For example, increasingly, we communicate with our colleagues at work through electronic mail (e-mail) or with our friends through instant messaging (IM) and chat rooms. Sometimes you may get unsolicited e-mail, called spam. In this century we can anticipate traveling an information superhighway, a network of high-speed data communications links, that eventually will connect virtually every facet of our society. Today, millions of people have a personal computer (PC). This widespread availability has resulted in an explosion of applications for computers. At home, people may connect to the Internet, a worldwide network of computers. Home appliances may also include microprocessors. Through the 1970s, users related their information needs to computer professionals who would then work with the computer system to generate the necessary information. Today, users work directly with their PCs to obtain the information they need. 1-2
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY COMPETENCY
Information technology competency (IT competency) is emerging as a universal goal in our information society. IT-competent people know how to purchase, set up, and operate a computer system, and how to make it work for them. The IT-competent person is also aware of the computer's impact on society and is conversant the language of technology.
Software refers collectively to a set of machine-readable Instructions, called programs, that cause the computer to perform desired functions. Computers and computer equipment, which accept input and provide output, are called hardware. The fact that many people routinely use computers but are not IT-competent is inferred to as the "computer proficiency digital divide." 1-3
THE NET CONNECTION
We now live in a global village in which computers and people are linked within companies and between countries. Most existing computers are part of a computer network that shares resources and information. The Internet links almost a billion users in a global network. The Net can be accessed by people in organizations with established links to the Internet and by Individuals with PCs, often via Internet service providers (ISPs). Often this is done with a modem, a device that permits communication with remote computers via a telephone-line link. Commercial information services, such as America Online (AOL), offer a wide range of information services, including up-to-the-minute news and weather, electronic shopping, e-mail, and much more. When the user terminates this online link, the user goes offline. Internet users can download text or a digitized version of a song directly to their PC, then read it or play it through their PC. MP3 players can store and play digital music recorded in MP3 format. Information is uploaded from a local computer to a remote computer. The World Wide Web, or the Web, is an Internet application that lets us view Internet Web pages. Another application, newsgroups, provides electronic bulletin boards. Generally, Internetapplications can be placed into these categories: personal communications, browsing and searching for information, downloading and file sharing, streaming media, online transactions, and entertainment. 1-4
THE BASICS: HARDWARE, SOFTWARE, AND COMPUTER SYSTEMS
At the heart of any computer is its processor, an...
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