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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Information Technology: History, Practice and Implications for Development


The presence of information technology (IT) within the global environment has been extensively studied, but its structure and impact has not been rigorously explained. In many ways, this failure to explain IT stems from a basic lack of understanding the technology itself, both in terms of its historic development and its basic production patterns. Such an explanation is important exactly because its absence limits an analysis of global processes generally, and the discussion of “information societies and economies” in particular. If information technologies are central in structuring new global trends, then it is an empirical necessity to detail the social and economic impacts derived from such technologies. Such impacts can not be understood, or at best only partially, if the basic conceptualizations and processes underlying IT are not defined.

The purpose of this outline is to step back from more macro approaches and consider information technology from first principles. The aim is to clarify and define both the informational and technological aspects of IT, then link these into considerations of the potential impact on economic and social development.

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