Edited by Robert U. Ayres and Leslie W. Ayres
Chapter 35: The infomation industry
35. The information industry Braden R. Allenby INTRODUCTION The expansion of the information industry and its underlying infrastructure has been an integral part of the evolution of the human species. From the initial development of verbal capabilities, and an oral history, to the invention of the printing press, to technologies such as the telegraph, radio and television, information infrastructure has been a critical enabler of cultural development and diﬀusion. Frequently, in fact, information technologies are an integral part of the technology cluster characterizing a particular era: for example, the telegraph and railroad evolved together (Grübler 1998, p.212). The evolution of modern mass media, combined with the growing power of the Internet, however, has created a new and powerful technological and cultural dynamic. Scholarship about the former is relatively advanced, but that is less true of the Internet. Like the global transport network that evolved as European civilization spread around the globe, the Internet will have huge impacts on the way humans perceive and manage the physical and biological world – and the way that world, increasingly endogenous to human society, evolves. It is thus a critical area of study for industrial ecology, the more so as it is so poorly understood at present. Understanding the industrial ecology of the information industry is challenging for several reasons. First, the industry itself is in a period of rapid economic and technological change, with sector boundaries and core technologies undergoing fundamental transitions. Thus, for example, traditional telephone companies are merging with cable...
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