How has Computer Technology Affected our Lives?

Using a computer to write about computers is like searching for ‘Google’ on Google! Computer technology is so much a part of our lives, that we cannot imagine living without it. Computers serve as efficient data storage systems and excellent information processors. They can store, organize, and manage huge amounts of data. Moreover, they operate at incomparable speeds, thus saving human time and effort to a large extent. True, they are an integral part of our lives. It is said that inventions change the way we live. Computer technology is a classic example of this adage. It has indeed changed our way of living.

Computer technology that is in daily use today finds its roots in the oldest computing systems like Abacus and slide rules. The evolution of computers can be traced back to calculators and punched cards, which were some of the earliest computing devices. Analog computing devices evolved into digital information processors and from then on, there was no looking back! For a closer look at the major events in the computer history, you must go through the full timeline of computers.

For many years after 1960, when the third generation computers were created, desktops remained to be popular for personal and business use. Research in this field continued, giving rise to the development of laptops, palmtops, miniature tablet PCs, and PDAs. As we see today, they serve as ‘personal digital assistants’ in the literal sense of the term. Their small size endows them with portability, thus adding to user convenience. As they can be operated on batteries, they provide computer users with mobile computing capabilities. How has this affected our lives? Well, we can remain connected to the world at all times. Work is no more location-dependent.

Operating systems are a vital component of computer technology. They help in the management of a variety of computer operations and in the sharing of computer resources. They handle the scheduling and execution of computer programs, help in the management of files, and handle interrupts. They manage multiple user profiles and user accounts, thus playing a major role in maintaining computer security. Certain types of operating systems offer distributed processing capabilities and support multitasking and multi-user operations. The most important role of an operating system is to provide the users with an interactive interface. They have made the interaction with computers, a user-friendly experience and made it easy for the common man to make friends with this technology.

Computers, as we know, can perform complex mathematical operations and process large amounts of information. Thanks to their computational powers, long and complex calculations can be performed within seconds. They can be programmed to execute complex instruction sequences through the use of programming languages. The software industry is one of the most progressive industries of the world. Computer technology gave rise to this industry and changed the face of the globe.

The multimedia capabilities possessed by computers make them ideal audio-visual media. They can be made to play movies and music. They offer support to a variety of storage media like CDs, DVDs, floppy disks, and USB drives. Computer hard discs are also capable of storing and playing audio and video. And how has this affected our lives? Well, it is due to these storage and audio-visual media, that we can maintain soft-copies of data. Gone are the days, when we used to document on paper. Gone are the days when students maintained traditional notebooks. Many of them possess notebook computers today. Today’s education is about PowerPoint presentations and e-homework assignments. TVs and radios were once, the only means of entertainment, but not any more. Today’s entertainment is about the computer and Internet technology.

Perhaps one of the major advantages of computer technology is its ability to provide us with Internet access. Computers possess networking capabilities, which makes it possible to connect multiple computers and achieve exchange of information between them. Network communication is possible, thanks to the networking features offered by computers.

These were some of the important effects of computer technology on our lives. The list can go on. However, the very fact that you are on a computer reading about the effects of computer technology, which were typed into a computer, speaks a lot about how this technology has affected our lives. Don’t you think so?

Information Infrastructure Design in IT

As life progresses, new information emerges, in turn leading to further progress of mankind. Information remains to be like a limitless ocean. It is infinite and extends till eternity. Information technology (IT) involves the management of information on computer-based information systems. IT deals with the use of computers to store, process, and retrieve information. The construction and design of a safe, reliable, and an always-available information infrastructure is an important constituent of information systems.

Information Infrastructure
It is the collection of communication networks and the software associated with it. It refers to networks and software, which support interaction among people and organizations or the currently available networks and the prospective facilities that they will make available. It includes the Internet, the telecommunication networks, and the embedded systems as also computers.

Internet that is regarded as the network of networks is the information infrastructure of today. It is a collection of interconnected computer networks that transmit data in the form of packets using the Internet Protocol. Each of the networks carries information and services like mail and file transfer. World wide web, a collection of documents and other resources, is a service offered by the Internet.

Information infrastructure design is concerned with issues like privacy, security, translation, right to information, and most importantly, software and hardware compatibilities. Let us look at each of them.

Privacy: Privacy of information is related to the collection of personal information. Many a time, we are asked to furnish our personal details on the web. It might be in case of an online transaction or in the process of a registration. Such information collected over the web has to be kept private and confidential. People should feel safe while letting out such information. For this purpose, it is important to include information privacy in the design of information infrastructure.

Information Security: Securing information is about protecting it from unauthorized access, disclosure, or modification. An unauthorized access to information should not result in the destruction of that information. Information security deals with confidentiality, availability, and integrity.
     1. Confidentiality: It is preventing the information from being disclosed through unauthorized access.
2. Availability: Computing systems that store information and the communication channels that enable access to it,    must function properly. The information in an information system should be available for the users at any time.
3. Integrity: In information security, integrity means that the information cannot be modified without authorization.
Rights surrounding Information: Citizens have a right to obtain information. They are allowed to access copies of certain official documents. Law allows us as citizens of a country to access information. Information rights pertain to possession of the rights to copy or modify the acquired information. People who create content are logically, its owners. So anyone other than the author cannot modify it. One is not permitted to steal content of another author. Rights to translation of content are as prescribed by law. To organize information in an information infrastructure, it is necessary to manage the rights to information.
Compatibility issues: While accessing information over the web, different users access it in different ways. The software and hardware they use is different. The type of communication network over which they access information may be different. Here arise the compatibility issues. Looking at the pace with which new types of software and hardware are being built, backward compatibility of newer versions with the older ones is a serious concern.

National Information Infrastructure refers to the integrated communication system of the US. It takes into account the high-speed public and private broadband and narrowband networks. It also includes satellite, wireless, and terrestrial communications. It is inclusive of all the information that flows in the infrastructure.

Free Information Infrastructure
It is a term used in Europe and it resembles the National Information Infrastructure. The use of the word ‘free’ is intended to focus on freedom and on the internet which is freely accessible. It comprises no software patents. It sometimes refers to open source software. It is about free access, open standards, network neutrality, and less control by state.

Global Information Infrastructure
It is an upcoming communication framework that is meant to connect the computer and telecommunication networks all over the world. Currently, the Internet is considered as the Global Information Infrastructure.

Information infrastructure in IT is actually a vast subject. It deals with the creation, design, and organization of information. It focuses on an infrastructure that caters to the security and access needs of information. In the words of William Pollard, “Information is a source of learning. But unless it is organized, processed, and available to the right people in a format for decision-making, it is a burden, not a benefit.” This briefly describes the goal of an information infrastructure design.