Information age refers to the present generation and time, where there is a proliferation of knowledge, easily accessible at all times. Gaining vast amounts of information is seen as necessary in all aspects of life, personal and professional. The situation in the world with information constantly accessible in all places has been described by scholars and journalists as an information explosion.
In the globalized world, information is readily available 24 hours a day, seven days per week. The World Wide Web is accessible almost everywhere in the world. Technology is advancing every moment. Everything is at a person's fingertips. The amount of knowledge available via the web comprises unheard-of volumes. The challenge facing people to keep abreast of the information and be able to manage the world in which they live is often overwhelming. Previously unknown concepts such as information literacy, information society and information overload have come into being.
The role of information technology (IT) is crucial to advancements in the information age and is the transformative force behind the information era. Furthermore, the information age has led to a competitive air in business. Firms intent on providing the newest and best methods of acquiring information through IT are perceived to be at the top of the winning streak. New positions have been created, such as the chief information officer (CIO), responsible for best practice in the interrelationship between information technology and business.
Business is affected, not only in the volume of information changing the face of knowledge-based practice, but in the form of business itself. As the computer and Internet become ways of conducting business, the formats of business change. Websites are created, further adding to the information available online, and e-commerce has become an accepted method of buying and selling products and experiences. The challenge is to keep up with the expanse of information, the readily changing knowledge and technological market and customers' expectations.
The information age has contributed to an expanded propensity for information systems to store the knowledge. Moreover, the expansion of knowledge has contributed to the breadth and depth of the information age. Huge storage systems are required for large-scale and government organizations, and methods of data organization are being constructed continuously to accommodate growing needs. As a result, the field of information systems management has emerged.
Educationally, the information age has given birth to vast opportunities of knowledge retrieval and acquisition. New methodologies are being taught to find effective ways of gathering, sifting, filtering and processing relevant information. In some instances, radical changes have been proposed in education circles. There have been requests by some educators to institute continual annual learning. Extra instruction is perceived to be necessary to keep abreast of the influx of information and to bring students to the levels required by heightened expectations and demand for higher grades. Long vacation breaks are seen as detrimental to students who are unable to retain the information acquired when extended gaps occur. Teachers in these instances comment on their need to regurgitate information, which may take up valuable time. Adrienne T. Washington, writing in The Washington Times in 2001, proposed that in the information age, year-long learning is the way forward, as three-month summer vacations would result in students failing.
Information has become the greatest commodity in the new millennium. Whether for personal or professional use, among individuals or corporations, in tiny pocket-size electronic devices or in massive databases, information appears to be the key for all growth enhancement. An inextricable link exists between the age of technology and what has been coined by many writers as the digital revolution and the information age.
Critics write that the information age has led to people not communicating anymore. Rather, there is a focus on the computer and other information-gaining devices, instead of face-to-face people contact. Virtual relationships in cyberspace have become a norm, with social media pages providing up-to-the-minute personal information, as well as professional updates. Furthermore, critics state that the lack of human communication and contact, particularly the interchange of small talk among people, contributes to the eventual breakdown of society. New helplines have been created to address the ever-increasing issue of Internet addiction, as the information age "takes over." Internet Anonymous and other help programs provide therapeutic assistance in these instances.