Knowledge Society

What is the knowledge society

The knowledge society is one that develops and transforms itself, mainly, through the use of information and human knowledge.

Or, put in more detail, it is a society whose economic, political and cultural structure is based on the management of information. And that it does so with the purpose of creating useful resources, especially through the great information and communication technologies, ICT.

Characteristics of the knowledge society

Access to information: Many authors affirm that the Internet is a great library of Alexandria, where data and its use are the real engine of the 21st century. In fact, Google has been compared to the famous lighthouse of the ancient world, but also to the legendary Tower of Babel, where everything blended together but not everyone was able to communicate.

In this sense, understood as an objective to be achieved, the more universal access to information is, the closer we get to a true knowledge society.

Information management: Information handling and management are key in the knowledge society. And this last word, management, is essential to understand the concept, because as we said, to speak of a knowledge society, information must be directed towards an end.

Therefore, without proper information management, there cannot be a true knowledge society.

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big data: Data grows exponentially. In 2025 there will be 175 times more data on the Internet than there was in 2011. To get an idea, every minute more than 40 million messages are sent via WhatsApp or more than 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube alone. The knowledge stored on the Internet increases by the second and ranges from the different ways to tie a tie, to detailed explanations on aeronautical engineering.

The data we store in the cloud is like the universe in full expansion. like a large oil stain that does not stop growing and that does so at such a speed that we are not able to measure its size. Because there are no longer any physical barriers. So much so, that only 0.007% of the knowledge accumulated by human beings is on paper. The rest are already ones and zeros, in infinite combinations.

ICT: It is precisely because of the need to manage Big Data that the knowledge society cannot be understood without the great information technologies. These allow the storage and, above all, the interpretation and use of this enormous amount of data.

society of Information

Differences between knowledge society and information society

Information society is understood as one whose economic, social and cultural processes are profoundly affected by the new information and communication technologies, known as ICT.

However, a knowledge society is understood as one that, being affected by these same processes, has as its objective the progress of all social sectors. That is, the one that seeks a positive impact of knowledge and information in all orders.

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In this sense, the knowledge society goes beyond the famous information society, by including an end. Not only is the collection of information sought, the indiscriminate collection of data, but the information is stored and organized with the aim of contributing to social development.

Current debate on the knowledge society

There is currently a debate about whether we already live in a knowledge society or if it is a utopia to walk towards.

For authors such as Manuel Castells and others, knowledge is already the new technological paradigm.

However, for a good number of current sociologists and thinkers, such as the philosopher André Gorz, we really live in the information society, although we should move more and more towards the knowledge society. This has also been understood by supranational organizations such as the European Union or the United Nations.

In fact, UNESCO, the UN body for Education, Science and Culture, works with the term “knowledge society”. And it does so by supporting the idea of ​​a society whose transformations are based on knowledge and are, at the same time, universal and sustainable. Universal, because access to information is increasingly equitable. And sustainable, because it leads to the development of a business, technological and industrial fabric that is not harmful to the planet.

Seen in this way, the knowledge society would be more of a utopia, a horizon to walk towards, than a description of today’s society.

Although there are also those who affirm that there are many developed countries that already live in the knowledge society, but that due to the famous “digital divide” the less developed countries have not yet reached it. Hence the attempt to universalize its main characteristics.

Criticism of the knowledge society

Among the criticisms of the knowledge society and its dangers, those who warn of the control of large corporations over Big Data stand out. This is because the analysis and interpretation of large amounts of data depend almost exclusively on them.

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First the European Union, but now also the US, have already taken some steps to try to regulate and control the power of the big technology companies.

On the other hand, psychologists and neuroscientists have also warned of a reduced ability to retain information and memorize due to the constant bombardment of information to which we are subjected through social networks.

Origin of the term “knowledge society”

The term was first used by Peter Drucker, father of the management business, back in the 60s of the last century. Although it has been in the last two decades when it has become universal.

In fact, the concept was born linked to business development and driven by new technologies.

The post-industrial and post-modern society, which broke with the totalizing discourses of the 20th century, places concrete, useful, measurable and attainable knowledge as the central axis of its operation. And it does so by affecting all walks of life, according to authors such as Yves Courrier.

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