Information communication revolution
Evolution of communication technology
Production of and trade in commodities are the basis of the economy of any country. For these to go on, smoothly and with efficiency, the most basic need is information exchange.
The amount of information exchange depends very much on economic development. With the increase in demand for more information and exchange, the means of exchange also develop.
Letters are a vital element in the exchange of information for a long. The means of transport of letters depends on the distances to which they are transported. For short distances, they are sent through the roads. For distant places, they are sent by the railways. And for still farther distances, they are sent either by sea or by air.
Speed posts and the letters that should reach in a short while are being sent through the air. Until now, letters were carried in India by the Government Department alone.
Now, there are private courier services, too. The Government Postal Services have introduced ‘speed post’ to facilitate quick delivery of letters to distant places.
Information exchange is not only through letters but also through various other means such as the telephones, electronic equipment such as telefaxes. In sum, people, products, and information are transferred through roads, postal services, sea routes, and airways. The transfer is done through one or more of the transport modes.
Therefore, there is a competition between the carriers or interdependence among them. As such, development in one leads to developments in another. This is because there are merits and demerits to each of these transport modes and vehicles.
Information Explosion: Information explosion is very much like the population explosion of recent times. Several geographical information systems have been developed to store the data from the information explosion, index, and analyze them for development purposes.
It has become possible to handle different types of data easily through computers. Thus, there is no doubt now that the communication techniques and information revolution have acted in the union to prove the idea that ‘knowledge is power.
What are their impacts? How did they make for a change in geography? What developments occurred in geography as a result of these changes?
Technological, Technical Development: The world around us is changing fast. This change has made transformations on the earth possible. Methods have been devised in geographical science which analyses this change towards an understanding of the earth phenomena.
These have ushered in new perspectives and paradigmatic understanding of geography. In the 1950s, for example, number and quantity brought in a scientific revolution in geography.
Measurements and gathering of statistical data for understanding the world and to resolve problems that face the earth had become day-to-day activities. In course of time, mapping, cartographic research, and mathematical methods have come into use.
At the beginning of the 1960s, there were several descriptions and explanations which have now become established geographical ideas.
Continuous developments in information technologies increased field-based activities, voluminous data collected at the local and regional levels, the use of computers, and mathematical algorithms – all have impacted to increase the information manifold.
Information has multiplied ten times, hundreds of times, and million-fold. In order to take advantage of the exploding information, there came other, forward-looking developments during the 1970s and 1980s.
Although remotely sensed data have been received from the aerial photographs even before, satellite images have now supplemented even better information.
The traditional tool of cartography has now provided support in integrating human skills with the computing skills of computers and this has developed into modern geographical information systems.
Computers have now turned into devices, directly storing data from the fieldwork. They have now become not only the instant processors of arithmetic solutions and maps but also print them out as hard copies.
Space and satellite telecommunications, manual and computer mapping technology, and analytical mathematical algorithms have all been pooled to provide us with the Geographical Information Systems (GIS) that could accommodate and meet the challenges of information explosion in the world in the 1990s.
In several western countries, hundreds of the GISs have come into use. It is estimated that there is now a total of 2,000 such GISs in use in the world.
They have already been in intensive use in the departments of development and management. They have come into use, in our own country as well. The wings of the Survey of India and in the Departments of Universities, have now been used to the extent we could cope with the information explosion.
Importance of Information Technology: The developments in information technology have now paved the way for the new axiom ‘New scales, new worlds’.
Relations between data need, provision and handling have risen as a reflection of technological development. Nevertheless, the technology and the techniques are within certain limits, in operational terms.
Particularly, there is still a limit to the quantum of data that can be handled. The value of information technology depends upon the following is beginning to dawn in our midst:
Nature and type of sensing of information. Its spatial and temporal resolution. Our capability for processing data into information, storing and handling them in terms of computer facility.
The analytical capability with us and the corresponding interpretative capability amongst us. Classifying the conclusions and solutions from the information obtained by us and bringing them into use in a beneficial manner.
The five above, there is no doubt, will give us clarity of what we know of the world.
It is always a question in the area of communication as to how to deliver the news and ideas that arise from these to a majority. In today’s world, there are several communication types of equipment in daily use.
It is also true that some of them are still beyond the reach of a majority of people in this country because of their prices. For example, it is humanly impossible to make available newspapers to every citizen of India.
Similarly, radios and televisions cannot be made available to all of them, either. But there is no doubt that the impact of these media is widespread, throughout the world.
According to one source, radios provide vital information to 90 percent of the Indian population. Television acts in a way useful to 70 percent of the Indians.
They play a vital role in entertainment. Telephones have started functioning in remote villages, besides the towns and cities.
But in western countries, telecommunications have already become a basic need. The day is not far off for it to happen in India, as well. Let us now turn to learn the developments that have come about in the fields
of telecommunication and its technologies.
Communication Revolution: The world is under the grip of a ‘communication revolution’ that is seen in many ways. This revolution is considered the ‘third wave’ of global revolution. The ‘first wave’ of revolution is the ‘green revolution’ while the ‘second wave of revolution is that of the ‘industrial revolution.
The two revolutions (agricultural, industrial) have made a revolutionary change in the development of humankind.
It is expected that the third revolution of communication would bring about changes in the world that would surpass all changes that occurred in the earlier revolutions.
It has made possible the belief that it is ‘One World’.
It would also integrate people of all world, in all directions, is talked about throughout.
As the first impact of the appropriate activities of information technology, the world has begun to shrink. It has now become possible to send the information contained in ten books in a few seconds to a distant place: broadcasting has given way to narrow-casting.
How has this been possible? Let us now look at the historical developments in information and telecommunications, as they are useful to us.
Never before in human history has knowledge been so enormous. Also, we have never possessed such communication abilities as we do now.
We may consider these information and telecommunications technologies as problem-solving strategies and facilities.
It is even possible to integrate the wealthy North countries with the poverty-stricken South countries in the good cause of amenity expansion, catalyzing development, increasing literacy, alleviation of poverty through altruism, nature restoration, world management, promoting peace, and humanizing the world through these technologies.
Language and New Technologies: In human history, the languages were split and developed as the populations spread and multiplied.
Some cultures have gifted their cultures and languages to the outsiders and brought to themselves laurels.
Language has alone become the vehicle of communication. Some of these languages have now become the languages of law, administration, and official use through speech, writing, and printing.
In some cultures, languages have been identified as ‘human identities’. English, French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, and Arabic is being used by the multitude. Similarly, some of the regional and local dialects are being used as the languages of communication among the peoples.
All of these languages offer information through newspapers, radios, and television. All new innovations in technology use languages as the interfaces in the information exchange.
Some signal languages are used in communication with computers.
In telecommunications, all information is conveyed through symbols. The African drummers communicated messages through sound. Smoke signals were in use among some tribes as a means of telecommunications.
Flags and pictorials were used as auxiliaries to telecommunications.
Then came printing techniques. The machine-published books became the primary sources of information besides reaching most of the world population.
The 19th-century steam-driven printing press gave way to the machines which operated with electricity and depended on composing. Next came litho press.
Photocopying created a revolution in copying. This is even now in use. In this computer age, printing has become simple through desktop publication.
The book in your hands has been published using computer publishing.
Telegraph and Telephones
The first-ever electrically operated telegraphic equipment came into use in the year 1837. Subsequently, in 1867, the telephone was born.
These have served humankind for more than a century in the exchange of information. Joining with the computers and satellites in telecommunications, the telephones have revolutionized the internal and international information exchanges.
As a ‘two-way communication’ and a ‘communication without codes’, telephones have become a communication link with no match to its versatility.
Radio: Radio broadcasting –
Especially continuous one – came into vogue in the year 1922. Radio has acquired the epithet ‘the vehicle of social change’ in a few years’ time. It had a very distinctive role in the green revolution of the developing countries.
It is also being used as the primary communication link in population control. It is not only useful to the educated but even more so to the uneducated. But this is under Government control. In some western countries, it is also being used as the communication medium in the private sector radio broadcasting.
With the telephone, this has made history in individual-related communication, too.
Sound and light-based communication was first begun in 1936. This is the television era, which has made possible a ‘reception room revolution’, using cinematographic techniques.
Yet, in some countries, it has earned the name ‘the idiot box, which it does not deserve. This is now an instrument changing the perception of the world population.
However, television has coverage of a mere 15 percent of the population in the poor South countries which hold 75 percent of the world population. In northern countries, it is rare to see a place or a home without television. In some countries, the telecast is through more than 100 channels.
The necessary information they provide, recreational and entertainment fares they offer, and the knowledge-based telecasts are numerous. Yet, where the cinema impacts more readily on the population as in the developing countries, the hold of the television on the population is minimal.
Deep-Sea Telegraphic Lines: These are a communication link among the many countries which have developed quite fast in both telegraphic and telephonic communication.
A deep-sea line in 1980 carried some 5,000 telephonic links. Now there have been several developments. Many countries are not only connected by the deep sea telegraphic lines but they use them in an important way, too.
The Satellite Power
The first-ever satellite is Sputnik 1. This was launched in 1957. It is estimated that over 15,000 satellites have orbited the earth in space. Some have burnt themselves while returning to the earth, in the atmosphere.
The 180 satellites sent up by the United States of America are all in use. The 100 satellites sent up by the former Soviet Union are still in operation. Among the 16 satellites launched by India, none failed.
They have completed successfully their mission, besides helping with the resources appraisal and in international communication. As for geography, the images received from these satellites play a vital role in the assessment of resources.
They form the spatial database for mapping through the GIS. It is not only easy to analyze the problems that the country faces but also develop solutions using the products of maps and their interpretations.
In the operation of satellites, computers have a significant role. It would be otherwise difficult to receive images from the satellites and process them in the lab was it not for the development of computers.
In resources appraisal, the images that we receive from the satellites have a large role to play. Generations of Computers: Computers have been developed in very rapid succession. Present-day computers are considered the Fifth Generation computers.
The first used simple valves. The second-generation computers used transistors. The third has been developed using integrated circuits. And the fourth uses microchips.
Microchips are still being used in fifth-generation computers; there are also other technologies in the field of computers.
Computers are useful in telecommunications in two important ways.
- They act as storages and retrieval media when required.
- They have a major role in international information exchange through Electronic Mail (E-mail) and international telecommunications.