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Information Technologies

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Introduction

Information and communication technologies have significantly altered the ways in which we work and live. They have changed practice at both the individual and institutional level. Many of us have come to rely on certain technologies, such as email, mobile phone technologies, e-commerce etc. Having vast quantities of information at our fingertips has become a way of life. We are able, at the click of a mouse to keep up to date with current events, discover that hard to find article for an assignment or communicate in real-time via text, audio, video or all of the above, with colleagues, friends and strangers from around the globe. In short, information technologies and the Internet specifically, have become powerful agents for change and the exciting part is - the development and continued evolution of this amazing technology has occurred in our lifetime. We are actually part of the making of history, every day, with our online interactions and we have the opportunity to engage actively and intelligently in this evolutionary process. Any evolution requires a past, and to be active intelligent users of the Internet, one thus requires an understanding of the history of this technology. The term 'information technology' in the past, has referred to the computer on a desk in a workplace. Computers were used in these environments as a tool - a typewriter, calculator or storage device. ...read more.

Middle

I now realize that it is of critical importance for advanced Internet users to understand how search engines function and to develop skills in advanced methods of searching for information. Using Boolean terms in search queries, or using advanced search features (if available), exploring a variety of search engines to perform individual searches and discovering ways to plumb the deep or hidden web, are amongst the lessons I have learned. All information is not equal on the Internet. By applying advanced knowledge about 'searching' to the quest for information, the advanced user of the Internet can more rapidly and precisely, sift the valuable information from the less valuable (Concept 29). Intelligent Internet users evaluate the way they actively acquire information. Just as importantly, one must guard against the very real possibility of information overload by learning to categorize and organize their own personal libraries (Concept 32). Blogs are a communication and information tool that I'd never previously considered before the commencement of this unit. I have discovered they are an extraordinarily powerful medium for communication of thoughts and ideas, and for gathering and collating information from a variety of news sources. The use of RSS feeds, as a tool for reducing information overload cannot be underemphasized! Without having to visit innumerable websites on a daily basis to catch up on news, topical articles or merely information of interest, RSS feeds allow the Advanced Internet user to browse the topics and click only on those required. ...read more.

Conclusion

In chat rooms, where, like in other forms of cyber-communication, identity is constructed, I felt uncomfortable 'chatting' to the constructed identities of real people! Had I been bold enough to construct my own identity (I could be male/female, white/black, a shy retiring individual or an outgoing party animal), chat rooms may have been more interesting. However, I could probably (given more leisure time) get right into MUDs and MOOs. I found the free newsgroups to be full of spam, often pornography, and flame wars between various participants. After many hours of search and observation, I found nothing that would inspire me to become a part of these particular online communities. Nardi and O'Day (1999) view information and communication technology as "a lively human, intensely social place, even if it incorporates very advanced technologies. It has many different resources and materials and allows for individual proclivities and interests" (p.52) - in essence an information 'ecology. As technologies such as the Internet continue to develop and become more entrenched in work environments, schools and homes, the people using these technologies have the opportunity to become actively engaged in this evolution. It is a continual process and must not stop at the end of this unit of study. To be active, intelligent Internet users, it is vital to continually re-invent oneself - to find new ways of doing things, be informed, and be a designer or producer if you like, rather than merely a consumer of information. ...read more.

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