What’s in a name? Defining an Age: Information and technology

Graphic By Savannah Pinnock

The concept of an age is by no means a new development. In fact, it

is a definitively antiquated means of describing a time period.

In light of the technological advancements that began to gradually emerge in the early ‘70s, many have come to wonder what our current period should be defined as.

Defining an age proves to be a challenge as ages are often categorized on the basis of one’s geographical location. On one level, this makes sense as the events that occur in a region begin to define the social atmosphere and the subsequent periods that develop.

However, on another level this begins to create a limitation in terms of international movements and changes.

One of the primary forms of movements and changes that is recognized in the United States is that of the Information Age. The Information Age has been referred to as the Computer, Digital or New Media Age.

On a national level, this label fits perfectly as we are a nation that is driven by all forms of technology ranging from smartphones, tablets, computers, laptops, 2-in-1 laptops, smartwatches and more. It is clear that America no longer runs on Dunkin but technology.

With this being said, it is clear that the vast majority of foreign countries also exhibit similar behaviors as it pertains to technology. In fact, according to John Websell from techpartners.co.uk, “Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and China together produce a staggering 90% of the world’s digital gadgets.”

This essentially means that technology is not exclusively American in any way, shape or form. However, although most regions around the world do have access to technology, they may not be as advanced as that of the United States.

It has been said that “Africa is 20 years behind the U.S., with only about 22 percent of the continent’s population able to go online.” These figures come from a report taken place in 2016 which was a mere three years ago.

As it pertains to the Middle East, in the country of Jordan, it was revealed that the nation desired to bring about a digital revolution.

In a letter to the World Economic Forum by John Chambers, the Executive Director of Cisco, the Jordanian government was “laying the foundation for a digital transformation with the National Broadband Network project, which will provide high-speed connectivity between public facilities, hospitals, schools and agencies.”

On a surface level, this goal may have appeared minimal but in the larger scheme of things, this change would prove to be an occurrence that is definitive of the Information Age.

Chambers suggests that the Jordanian technological plan “called the “internet of everything”  – which is the connection of people, process, data and things – will usher in a new era of growth.”

Thus, it is clear that the vast majority of regions around the world are undergoing massive technological shifts that are similar to the changes that are occuring in the United States.

Bearing this in mind, taking a quick glance at how technological ages are defined, it is clear to see that the Information Age is still exclusive to the United States.

As a Western nation, the United States holds a great deal of cultural ties to Canada and European countries. These countries may differ on a cultural level but on a technological level, they are very much alike.

Suggesting that the Information Age is exclusive to the United States with the understanding that other countries are also tech savvy and use technology in a similar way proves to be subtly ethnocentric.

Therefore, the definition of the Information Age should be changed to include virtually all regions.

It can be said that this label may be more suitable for the Western World but unfitting for some non-Western regions such as Africa and Antartica.

The caveat here is that some of these non-Western countries are developing countries. Due to adverse historical events, climatic limitations and relatively recent exposure to globalization, these areas are just beginning to take advantage of technology as we define technology.

The truth is that virtually all countries are taking advantage of technology to a greater or lesser extent. As a consequence of this, the Information Age should be extended to Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and other livable regions.

It is true that many shifts and changes in certain areas of the world are exclusive to that region. In Europe, during the Long Nineteenth Century Age, the world beared witness to one of the most beautiful eras, the Romantic and Victorian Eras. These eras are inherently European and should stay as such.

However, the Information Age is definitely a global phenomenon. The changes marked by the Information Age can be found all over the world.

The Information Age is distinct in that it is an Age that is not limited to a region and/or geographical location. This Age is virtually all inclusive. If you are able to detect a nation’s inclinations to use modern technology to its advantage, you have bore witness to the reach of the Information Age.

So next time you hear the term Information Age, ask yourself, what does it mean to you? Is this exclusively American?