What is Information Technology (IT)?
In a common way, we may define technology as the best ways and methods of running our machines and commerce or the most efficient means of improving our industry and business. Information technology means much more than this and, in fact, covers all that life is. It means the best ways or methods of gaining information or knowledge from all corners and places that can help in promoting i our work in all fields of life science, industry, commerce, education, engineering, medicine, land, air, space and sea travel, war, games, designing, drawing, sewing, cooking, and so on. The gaining and spread of information from everywhere have been made possible by information technology.
The main tool for the communication and receipt of information in all forms is the computer. No doubt, the computer is connected to booster stations, satellite systems, and feeders across the globe through what we call the Internet. When we switch on the computer, the world of information and knowledge lies open to us in all fields of life on the screen and in the speakers attached to the computer.
Information technology, as the software industry, for operating the data (points of knowledge), programmes and systems of the computer came to be used widely in the last twenty years (decades) of the twentieth century. Side by side with it, the hardware industry, for the manufacture of the mechanical and electronic parts of the computer, grew speedily as the use of computer software became common.
Information technology, in the first instance (to begin with), brings to us the latest developments in science, technology and the arts in the advanced world. We can make use of the latest techniques and methods in the sciences and the arts within the four corners of our buildings. Never before in world history did all knowledge lie so much within the reach of all and sundry (all kinds of people).
Secondly, we can communicate with anyone anywhere in the world and send him messages in a jiffy (very soon). The e-mail has made it possible to send any amount of information to any place in a few seconds. The receiver of the information can at once send back the reply or his own information. Talk on programmes like Hotmail messenger or yahoo messenger, along with the display of the talkers on the screen, gives a direct personal touch to the exchange of information and ideas.
Thirdly, information technology can help us to bring about a social, political and economic revolution in the country. We can make a complete study of the different social, political and economic systems in the most successful countries. We can observe, at first hand, how these countries are progressing or have progressed to their present state (condition). The past, present and possible future of these countries and societies can be studied through computer records, films, and programmes.
Fourthly, information technology can be used to collect information about the different classes and groups of the people in the country. A thorough study of their educational, professional and social ‘needs can lead us to the concrete solution of their problems.
Importance of Information Technology
“What better use can a man put the computer than to make it a universal information centre in all fields privately and publicly to know whatever we want?”
Ours is the age of computers and information communication. The last twenty years of the 20th century saw the introduction of the computer in all walks of life. Industry, business, agriculture, medicine, law, defense, administration, traveling, and so on make use of the computer for rapid progress and development. All professions need the latest information from all over the world for their respective fields of activity. Only the computer can store and provide it on such a large (massive) scale.
The 19th century and almost half of the 20th (last) century was industrial and agricultural. Now, the 21st century is one of information, and information governs the development and expansion of science, industry, agriculture, and trade. This is truly digital age. Now, computer programming has replaced much (taken the place of) laboratory experimentation. The electronic document has replaced paper and digital photography has replaced film just as computer games have replaced car races and different other games for money and fun. For the operation of computers and for computer programming, special knowledge of computer science is necessary. Computer education plays the greatest role in the operation of computers and the use of information technology.
The computer is used to store and arrange (process) information in different subjects and fields of knowledge and work. This information, stored in the computer, can be used at any place and at any time. It can be communicated (general) to the whole world through the Internet. The Internet today is the main means and source of gaining information on all the subjects under the sun.
Phone lines and satellite networks are connected to computers. Different countries and cities are connected to each other through the World Wide Web. Computer owners open their own websites that get connected internationally. Thus, there is a constant flow of information and exchange of knowledge over the websites. Scientific, commercial and industrial information flows endlessly from and through the websites. Films of different kinds, pictures of happenings and events across the world, scenes of war and peace, reports of important meetings and discussions between world leaders, and so on are presented on computer networks and TV channels side by side. All parts of the world are in communication now all the time. Distance has disappeared, and the need is no more there to pass time in wait for the arrival of news from far-off places.
In fact, the computer is the instrument that is used to secure (get) and provide information automatically. We need to develop and expand computer science of the highest order to use the computer for all kinds of scientific, artistic and social purposes. Scientific research and development in one (advanced) part of the world can be put to use in the other (less-developed) parts. We in Pakistan can especially promote science and technology only if we make use of the IT (information technology) intelligently and efficiently. We can likewise (in the same way) learn about new books, magazines, films, music, and other arts and literary writings in different countries in English and other international languages.
As far as English is concerned, we are at a great language advantage as we mostly understand English. The new developments in building construction (architecture), roads, railways, airways and water communication, business and industry, science and technology all lie at hand. The working of political systems in different countries, elections and their results, political disturbances, strikes and terrorist acts like bomb blasts and killings all are within our view all the time. As we watch and hear about all these scenes of destruction, we can learn how we can make our national and personal life better. We can surely also learn how we can avoid disorder and confusion. We can fix (and determine) our true destinations and aims in life with the information and guidance provided by the whole system of the computer.
We can, of course, download the programmes of all kinds from the computer and TV networks on our compact discs (CDS) for quick reference. These discs can store hundreds of.. thousands of books, magazines, and newspapers making our offices and homes more than the biggest libraries of olden times.