Society, science and technology

4. Information society, Internet

Topics of this lesson:

Information society is characterized by substantial use of digital processing, storage and transfer of information. Digitized information is universally usable, enables duplication and transformation. Unified technical basis - the microprocessor, storage and communication devices - facilitates to combine and transform digital information in extent not imaginable with traditional processes.

Flexibility and fast reaction on changes in both the internal and external environment of the company conditions its competitiveness in today's globalized economy.  Investments and job move to the best prepared countries. Disruptive processes create not only new opportunities, but  also threats, some of them resulting in growing social  frictions. Overcoming of risk factors is not possible without involvement of government, social and educational sectors; they must facilitate the smooth transition of all social groups to information society. Building of IS therefore is not only a matter of technology, but also policy, economy, education and other public sectors.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.”
— Charles Darwin

Obstacles on the road to information society are related to:

Problems ahead us have mostly non-technological character - they are related to ethics, morale, politics, law, sociology. They are interdisciplinary and must be solved in the context of mutual links among diverse disciplines. It is important to carefully evaluate consequences of  changes and decisions in one area on another ones.

Administrative solutions do not have many chances to succeed. They are not flexible enough and cannot reflect interdisciplinary character of problems. Administrative solution usually focus on quick fix of one specific problem, without considering their impact in other areas.

Internet and education

experience of training companies:



Solution: diverse roles

Information as a production factor

1 Data text, images, sound + meaning + structure
2 Information organized, structured, interpreted and aggregated data + reasoning + abstraction + relations + application
3 Knowledge case, rule, process, model + selection + experience + principles + limitations + learning
4 Expertise fast and precise advice, explanation and justification of results + integration + distribution + navigation
5 Competence organizational competence, knowledge warehouse, integrated performance management, core skills  

From Data to Knowledge

Information acquires value only in process of interpretation. High quality information is

Knowledge can be converted from lower stage to higher (and also vice versa in the process of its degradation). It is used in processes of selection, interpretation and decision making. It is modified, transformed and expanded in learning.

Knowledge management as one of the management disciplines

Knowledge workers (Drucker, Reich)

The market environment facilitated technological developments in the last two decades has been variously labelled the “information economy, ” “network economy,” “digital economy,” “knowledge economy, ” and the “risk society.” Together, the whole package is often simply referred to as the “New Economy. ”

The New Economy is a knowledge and idea-based economy where the keys to job creation and higher standards of living are innovative ideas and technology embedded in services and manufactured products. It is an economy where risk, uncertainty, and constant change are the rule, rather than the exception.

According to

"a progressive innovation-oriented policy framework for the New Economy should rest on four pillars:

  1. Investment in new economic foundations, specifically education, training, and scientific and technological research.
  2. Creation of an open and flexible regulatory and trade regime that supports growth and innovation, including policies that support the IT revolution.
  3. Development of policies to enable (American) workers to have the tools they need to navigate, adapt, and prosper in a continually changing economic environment.
  4. Reinvention—and digitization—of government to make it fast, responsive, and flexible.

In summary, if we are to ask workers to take the risks inherent in embracing the New Economy, we must equip them with the
tools to allow them to prosper and cope with change and uncertainty. If we fail to invest in a knowledge infrastructure — world-class education, training, science, and technology—our enterprises will not have the skilled workers and cutting-edge tools they need to grow and create well-paying jobs. And if Industrial Age government does not transform itself into Information Age government, it will become an inefficient, anachronistic institution, impeding rather than advancing progress."

Employment, teleworking

  1. More People Work in Offices and Provide Services.

While the old economy was fundamentally organized around standardized mass production, the New Economy is organized around flexible production of goods and services. To the extent our trade, tax, and employment policies do not reflect this new reality, economic growth will suffer.

  1. High-Wage, High-Skill Jobs Have Grown, But So Have Low-Wage, Low-Skill Jobs

The rise of new industries has meant the rise of new jobs, while new technology and new ways of organizing work have transformed many existing jobs. Both trends have changed the occupational mix, which in turn affects economic opportunity and well-being .
Knowledge-based jobs (those requiring post secondary, vocational, or higher education) have grown as a share of total employment. For example, there were fewer than 5,000 computer programmers in America in 1960, and over 1.3 million in 1998. Managerial and professional jobs increased as a share of total employment from 22 percent in 1979 to 28.4 percent in 1995.

However, in the last decade, as the share of these knowledge based jobs has increased, the share of mid-level skilled jobs has declined. This bifurcating trend of growth in both high- and low-skilled jobs is expected to continue. Jobs requiring an associates degree or above are expected to increase from 31 percent of all jobs in 1996 to 32.4 percent in 2006. And while the share of jobs requiring moderate-term training is expected to decline by 1.1 percent, the share of jobs requiring only short-term training is expected to decline only 0.3 percent.

Low-skilled jobs are not going away any time soon. The occupations with the largest predicted numerical increases are cashiers, janitors, retail salespersons, waiters, and waitresses. Together, they are expected to account for 13 percent of all new job growth . (PPI)

  1. The Wage Premium For Skilled Jobs Is Growing

The early stages of the New Economy have seen income growth increasingly tied to education and occupation. New technologies and work reorganization can help make many lower-skilled, labor-intensive service sector jobs (which now account for a quarter of all jobs31) more productive, allowing them to pay higher real wages.

  1. Workers Experience Less Job Stability

Even though most workers still have full-time, permanent employment, the nature of this employment has changed. One aspect is declining employment tenure. As new companies spring up and established companies respond to change and competition, fewer and fewer workers can look forward to long careers with a single employer. Employees must now continually reinvent themselves throughout their working lives, even if they remain with the same employer.

  1. Workers Are Becoming Better Educated

Teleworking: includes a wide variety of jobs, in which it is possible to uncouple the location of work activity from the location of the company. Wider use of telework requires good telecommunication infrastructure and acceptable fees. Up to now, this form of work is not widely used in the Czech Republic.

Information resources

Country and organization specific

General resources:

Specialized resources

Risks involved in working with information

Internet: verify information from independent resources; some drawbacks:

  1. it is not always possible to identify and verify information source
  2. files can be damaged by chance or intentionally (hackers)
  3. secure transfer not always guaranteed - be careful when working with personal or confidential information, use secure protocols, encoding, digital signatures
  4. data can be damaged during transfer (only rarely)
  5. your activities can be monitored without your knowledge and consent
  6. increased possibility of virus infection - use antivirus and spam protection

To work with information is risky and sometimes expensive.

However, to work without information is even more risky and expensive.



Internet - history, technical background, control

Image:Internet map 1024.jpg

Internet map

Each line is drawn between two nodes, representing two IP addresses. The length of the lines are indicative of the delay between those two nodes. This graph represents less than 30% of the Class C networks reachable by the data collection program in early 2005. Lines are color-coded according to their corresponding RFC 1918 allocation as follows:

  • Green: com, org
  • Red: mil, gov, edu
  • Yellow: jp, cn, tw, au, de
  • Magenta: uk, it, pl, fr
  • White: unknown

HUGE 4096*4096 (probably unusable in articles) version can be found at Image:Internet map 4096.png









Vannevar Bush (1945). "As We May Think".

Douglas Engelbart (1962). "Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework".

Modern Communication: The Laser and Fiber-Optic Revolution - see

History of the Internet,


Source:  A Brief History of the Internet,

"A network of such [computers], connected to one another by wide-band communication lines" which provided "the functions of present-day libraries together with anticipated advances in information storage and retrieval and [other] symbiotic functions. "—J.C.R. Licklider, 1960

October 1962: DARPA, 3 terminals

ARPANET, 1966 as a robust network, some say able to survive nuclear attack, however most resources deny this goal

1969 - first transmission through phone line (UCLA - Stanford), till the end of the year UC Santa Barbara, Utah

1970 - 9 nodes, 1971 - 15, 1972 - 37

Next stage: use in academic institution (mainly e-mail) - NSF

1989: at CERN Tim Berners-Lee addresses the issue of the constant change in the currency of information and the turn-over of people on projects. Instead of an hierarchical or keyword organization, Berners-Lee proposes a hypertext system that will run across the Internet on different operating systems. This was the World Wide Web

1990´s: Mosaic browser, html language

commercialization of Internet (since cca 1993)


Technical background: package switching, TCP/IP protocol - data packages routed through the network, original message collected, composed and formatted at the user's workstation;

Control: open source, Internet Society develops standards

Internet providers - connection to the network

Transmission velocity: band width; for more demanding applications (video, audio, rich graphics) broadband connection

Alexa - the web information company - the most frequently used web pages,

Internet basic services, how to search information

Communication tools:


Structure of Internet

A. László-Barabási: each document is only within 19 clicks from any other (society - only six steps form any person to another)

Search engines do not cover complete Internet; results of different search engines are not identical, but they are partly overlapping

1997 - 320 mil. documents; HotBot covered some 34%, AltaVista 28%, Lycos 2%

1998 - 800 mil. documents; NorthernLight 16%, HotBot 11%, AltaVista 15%, Google 7,8%; all together 40% of the whole web

2001: Google indexes over one billion pages, 600 mil., AltaVista 550 mil.

Actual information about the web size:

quality (relevance) more important than quantity

If we start at any page, we can reach by surfing only some 25% of all documents, the rest remains invisible

Internet "continents":

List of links to specific web page: search term "link:URL"

How Internet influences business

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are an important factor towards attaining the “Lisbon Goal” of higher growth, more and better jobs and greater social inclusion by 2010. The eEurope 2005 Action Plan was set up to create a favourable environment for private investment and for the creation of new jobs, to boost productivity, to modernise public services and to give everyone the opportunity to participate in the global information society. There is a large potential for improving productivity and the quality of life due to the technological developments of broadband and e-commerce. This all will provide citizens with more convenient access to information and communication tools as well as increased choice of goods and services. Businesses can equally benefit through the take-up of ICTs to make efficiency gains as well as reach a wider customer base and boost competitiveness.

The ICT household and enterprise surveys run by Eurostat measure, inter alia, the rate of take up of this technology and the use made of ICTs. This current edition highlights some of the first results from the 2004 survey round.

Main points raised are:

  Use of the Internet by Individuals and Enterprises–

  EU 25*, 2004 (%)








  Internet usage in 2004 by individuals and enterprises









Individuals and enteprises use of Internet for interaction with public authorities

EU 25*, 2004 (%)









Proportion of enterprises using e-commerce through the Internet

EU25*, 2003 (%)







Morag OTTENS: Internet usage by individuals and enterprises 2004, Statistics in Focus 18/2005

Network economy:


Further information:


Intranet and extranet

Organizations often use three information spaces: public Internet, internal intranet and extranet for limited audience of external users. Intranet and extranet are company information systems using same principles and technologies as Internet, so that users can use standardized procedures and processes in all three information spaces. The organization itself need not spend resources on technological development and can immediately used current technologies developed by specialists.

Intranet and extranet serve different purposes and it is reflected in their structure, including user interface.

Differences between intranet and Internet:

Access to extranet is provided to selected business partners, who can then directly connect to information system of your business. Typical applications are: tracing orders, price lists and catalogues.

As the extranet users access it quite frequently, you can train them to use special applications, which then can be quite complex. However, be careful - the typical user (as a salesman) usually works with several other extranets and should not be overburdened with broad variety of requirements




Robert D. Atkinson, Randolph H. Court: THE NEW ECONOMY INDEX: Understanding America’s Economic Transformation, Progressive Policy Institute, November 1998,

A. László-Barabási: Linked, Perseus Publishing, Cambridge, MA, 2002

Topics for discussion

  1. What is the role of information and IT in the industry you want to work for?
  2. What information resources do you use? What problems with their use do you face and how do you deal with them? Try to analyse availability and accessibility of resources you need for your work.
  3. Search Internet for resources concerning specific topics from S&T. Describe the method of your search and your results. Evaluate relevancy and quality of links.
  4. Analyse effects of ICT (management information systems, workflow, intranet and extranet, ...) on companies and/or public sector. What are the main barriers to their broader use? 
  5. Analyse impact of teleworking, teleshopping on daily life of people.
  6. e-business, e-commerce in the world, in the EU and in your country

Created by: Jiri Vacek

Last change: October 16, 2005