Magazine article Information Today

Planning for the Information Revolution

Magazine article Information Today

Planning for the Information Revolution

Article excerpt

"Over one billion pages of output is generated daily in the United States."

For each baby born in this country, eight four-drawer filing cabinets worth of paper documents are generated."

The USA Patent database contains enough paper to pave a highway from Boston to Miami."

"A single daily periodical typically contains more raw information than was available to the citizen of Renaissance Europe in an entire lifetime!"

Many of us smugly muse upon facts and figures such as these as proof of the powerful impact of the information revolution. While it is true that we have access to more information than ever before, we are barely at the threshold of any revolution in information. Producing information is not the focus of the dramatic upheaval that is to come. It is the fuel. The evolution we all talk about will be brought on by the implementation of tools, applications and methodologies developed exclusively for the mining of our extensive stores of information. The focus of the information revolution is in empowering every user - not enabling the power user. The revolution will result in the commoditization of information.

I use the term mining deliberately. If information is to be of value, it must be mined, or extracted like a gemstone from the boulder, and carefully honed to fit the thought process. Consider than even though we today have access to information resources that would have boggled the mind just decades ago, most organizations find (much to their surprise and dismay) that white collar productivity has been minimally impacted. Sophisticated word processors, imaging systems, report generators, statistical packages, spreadsheets, and databases have allowed us to amass information with assembly line-like characteristics. But, sadly, quantity has not directly translated into measurable benefit. In fact for most enterprises, this prized corporate asset - information - has become the new corporate problem. Taming the information giant that we have worked so diligently to create is one of the greatest challenges IS faces today.

We will be able to recover the benefits of the time and resources invested in our information base. But, it will take great changes in the way we view and use information. This is where the information revolution will have its greatest impact, in the creation of environments that facilitate the mining of a new host of information resources and a new paradigm for the empowerment he individual.

Setting the Stage for Radical Change

Advancements in the areas of online storage, data capture, and full-text retrieval have redefined the concept of the information resource and the definition of the knowledge worker. Optical storage is making it possible to hold the Library of Congress in the palm of the hand. High band-width networks such as FDDI make it possible to transmit this information - literally terabytes of data - across the United States in a matter of hours. Multimedia authoring packages are enabling the average user to create applications that rival those created by sophisticated "Infotainment Specialists" just a few years ago. "Documents" comprised of text, images, audio, and video orchestrated into a single coherent interactive presentation will be created with the same ease with which today's office worker produces documents with a word processor. The recent support of tactile types is fueling the advent of Virtual Reality-based information repositories.

These technologies are defining the battleground upon which the information revolution will be won. …

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