This view stems from evidence that the possession, manipulation, and use of information can increase the cost- effectiveness of many physical and cognitive processes. The rise in information-processing activities in industrial manufacturing as well as in human problem solving has been remarkable.
As a societal resource, information has some interesting characteristics that separate it from the traditional notions of economic resources.
i) It is expansive, with limits apparently imposed only by time and human cognitive capabilities.
ii) It reproduces rather than being consumed through use.
iii) It can be shared only, not exchanged in transactions.
iv) It is transportable at very high speed.
Application of scientific knowledge to change and manipulate the human environment is often called as technology.
Thus information technology (IT) embodies scientific acquisition, recording, organization, retrieval, display, and dissemination of information for the betterment of the human society. It involves four basic operations- gathering, storing, processing and providing the output information to the outside world.
This process has been there since ancient times. Before the advent of modern digital computer, the information were stored in analog form through printing, photography and telephony. Modern information technology greatly facilitates the storing and manipulation of information as a result of its representation in digital form.
Development of computer technology both in hardware as well as software front has enabled a normal human being to create, maintain, manipulate, and query the files and records. Database management system (DBMS) software today incorporates high-level programming facilities that do not require one to specify in detail how the data should be processed.
The utility of computers is vastly augmented by their ability to communicate with one another, so as to share data and its processing. Local Area Networks (LANs) permit the sharing of data, programs, printers, and electronic mail within offices and buildings. Wide-Area Networks, such as Internet, connects thousands of computers around the globe on real time. Computer networks are complex entities. Each network operates according to a set of procedures called the network protocol.
The proliferation of incompatible protocols during the early 1990s has been brought under relative control by the (Open Systems Interconnection (OSI)) reference Model formulated by the International Organization for Standardization. To the extent that individual protocols conform to the OSI recommendations, computer networks can now be interconnected efficiently through gateways.
Modern information systems have brought in new efficiency to the organization in retrieval and dissemination of recorded information. The control of the world’s information store has been truly revolutionized, revealing its diversity in hitherto unattainable detail Information services provide mechanisms to locate documents almost instantaneously and to copy and move many of them electronically. New digital storage technologies make it economical to store collections equivalent to the holdings of an entire library or an archive.
Alternately, access to information resources on electronic networks permits the accumulation of highly individualized personal or corporate collections in analog or digital form or a combination of both.
Information Technology has changed the traditional concept of the document as a fixed, printed object to include bodies of multimedia information. Because of their digital form, these objects are easy to manipulate; they are split into parts, recombined with others, reformatted from one medium to another, annotated in real time, and readied for display in many different formats on various devices.
Information systems have become a major tool for improving the cost- effectiveness, leading to higher productivity, in the industrial and service sectors. Automation of manufacturing, computer-aided decision making, problem solving, administration, and support of clerical functions are the features of this system.
Computer-based information systems also impact the structure and management styles of corporations. The matrix organization, a structure in which departments and employees communicate directly with other organizational units, is an increasingly popular alternative to the hierarchical structure. Information sharing and communication are the principal factors bringing about these changes.
The following are among the goals of a curriculum designed to develop basic technological literacy:
i. The ability to use modern operating systems and an understanding of the concepts underlying modern networks and communication systems.
ii. The ability to use basic computing applications such as word processors, spreadsheets, database management systems, and presentation software.
iii. The ability to use information retrieval tools to gain access to information resources found on electronic networks.
iv. The ability to understand basic programming and data base concepts.
IT literacy may include knowledge of technical courses upon which the acquisition of technical tools is based, skill and comfort in the use of technical hardware and software packages and programs, understanding of the ethical issues related to technology, and an understanding of technology’s impact on society. It also implies increased attention to lifelong learning skills, both for learning new technologies and for managing the vastly expanded and growing information resources made accessible through technology.