The Computer As a Mind Tool

By: Ameerah


In Megatrends, his popular book on the direction of western society, John Nesbitt discusses the many trends that currently affect our lives. One important concept that he presents is the information society—that is, a society in which the majority of the workers are involved in the transmittal, or sending of information. Naisbitt notes that we have undergone a transition from an agrarian society to an industrial society to the current information society.

The tools for such a society have existed for some time. These tools include the adding machine, the typewriter, the file cabinet, the television, and the telephone. The adding machine helps us work with numbers, the typewriter facilitates Cartier Replica our work with characters, the file cabinet stores information in an easily retrievable fashion, the television portrays our ideas in pictures, and the telephone allows us to communicate with others instantaneously.

However, the key element in the transition from an industrial society to an information society is a" wonder" called a computer. The agrarian society depended on the metal plow and wheel, and the industrial society depended on the steam engine. The information society depends on the computer. Because the computer facilitates the work of the mind rather than manual labor, we refer to it as a mind tool—that is, a tool that extends, but does not replace, the human mind.
The key idea behind the computer as a mind tool is that it performs all of the operations performed by the adding machine, typewriter, file cabinet, television, and telephone. On a computer, we can manipulate numbers as we do on a calculator (add, subtract, divide, multiply, and so on) ,we can manipulate letters of the alphabet as we do on a typewriter, and we can have the computer draw pictures based on these manipulations. Any of these symbols may be stored within the computer. Finally, we can communicate with other computer users over a telephone line. If a computer can do all of these things Just exactly how would it be described? Briefly, a computer is a machine that stores and manipulates symbols based on a series of user instructions called a program. This ability to execute a list of instructions differentiates the computer from a calculator or other office machines.

In addition to the computer's ability to perform all these tasks, two important characteristics of the computer make it the catalyst that generated the information society. These characteristics are speed and accuracy. The speed of a computer's operations is measured in nanoseconds—billionths of a second—and the computer does exactly Cartier Roadster Replica what it is instructed to do these two characteristics can also lead to problems when the computer is given the wrong instructions. In this case, the computer quickly performs incorrect operations. 1. What does the word "facilitate" probably mean.

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