Making It In the Information Stage

The information age is upon us. At least that's what many newspapers, magazines, and TV reports would have us believe.

Columns From: 12/1/1995 Modern Machine Shop, ,

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Chris Koepfer

The information age is upon us. At least that's what many newspapers, magazines, and TV reports would have us believe. It's like a new discovery has been made--information. Can you imagine the headlines (if there were headlines) when people first found out about bronze. Stone Age Gives Way To Bronze Age.

Today we're hearing the industrial age is moving over for the information age. You get the feeling that information is the stuff from which the future will be made.

Well sorry folks, information doesn't make anything. With knowledge, which is the content of information, it's possible to value add to a resource. But information alone is not worth much.

It seems to me the information age, as such, has much more to do with processing existing knowledge. A computer doesn't add one byte of additional knowledge to accumulated body of know-how mankind has amassed in our journey from sea to skyscraper.

What's happened is we've manufactured a better tool for access and dissemination of existing knowledge. Is it going to change our world? Probably so. It's happening now. Is all this unprecedented? It happens every time we move from one age to the next.

However, for those of us involved in making things for a living -- good old fashioned manufacturing -- the "information age" is going to be a bonanza. The reason is simple. We know how to turn knowledge into something of value. Manufacturers use knowledge to create wealth.

The information age puts knowledge closer to the user than it's ever been in history. That's certainly deserving of the title "Age." But it's also clear that this "new" age encompasses all of the preceding ages. The knowledge, represented as the information age, has been packaged in a very handy glossary of everything that has come before. And, it's updatable.

Mark Twain, responding to his mistakenly published obituary, said "the report of my death was an exaggeration." It's an equal exaggeration to believe the information age is a replacement. What it can do is allow those who are willing to access it more direct contact than ever before with the power of knowledge. Who better to make something from knowledge than manufacturers. We've done that since the Stone Age.

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