During the past few centuries, great advances have been made in the human capability to record, store, and reproduce information, beginning with the invention of printing from movable type in 1450, followed by the development of photography and telephony, and culminating in the mass production of electronic digital computers in the latter half of the 20th century. New technologies for preserving and transmitting aural and visual information (e.g. digital audio tape, optical disc storage, and optical fibers) have further enhanced information processing.

The high-speed digital computer together with its peripherals provides an extremely efficient means of manipulating and modifying stored data. As a consequence, information systems based on such computers are able to carry out diverse tasks. They can perform scientific and engineering calculations, translate technical material from one natural language to another, conduct searches of bibliographic literature, provide tutorial instruction in various subjects, assist in design and manufacturing activities, make decisions for solving complex non-numerical problems (e.g. those related to medical diagnosis or mineral exploration) with expert software systems and so on. Moreover, the utility of computer systems is greatly enhanced by their ability to communicate with one another through computer networks, provided that proper communications connections have been established and the computer data files and programs have been modified to agree with a common communications protocol.

All these technological advances have made information a new basic resource, ranking along side material and energy resources in importance. There are, in fact, people who believe that control of information stores and processing facilities will become more important than natural resources as a source of social and economic power.

In today's scenario, there is no lack of data. Actually people are suffering from data-overload. Although we are indeed swamped by printout pollution, memo mania, mis-information and information overload; most of us still lack quality information. By quality information we mean information that is accurate, timely and relevant. Accuracy, timeliness and relevancy are the three key attributes of information.


Accuracy means more than 'one plus one equals two.' It means that the information is free from mistakes and errors. It means that information is clear and accurately reflects the meaning of data on which it is based. It conveys an accurate picture to the recipient and may require a graphical presentation rather than a table full of numbers. Accuracy means that information is free from bias. Manipulated or distorted information is worse than no information.


Timeliness means that getting the information to the recipients within the needed time frame. For example, yesterday's newspaper today or stock quotes a day or two after are normally of little value. Timeliness means that the recipients can get the information when they need it.


Relevancy means the use of a piece of information for a particular person. It is only on very rare occasions that information answers specifically for the recipient what, why, where, when, who and how? For example, the price of a computer can be quoted as follows: "Price of Model 7790 is Rs. 65990." This information may be accurate and timely, but it is irrelevant to a person who wants to know the specification of the computer that he/she is buying. A more appropriate answer for this particular customer may be "Price of Model 7790 whose specifications are Intel Pentium IV processor with 1.5 GHz clock speed, 40 GB Hard Disk, 128 MB SDRAM, 56 Kbps internal modem, 21" SVGA color monitor, etc. is Rs. 65990." Relevancy is a very subjective matter.Information that is relevant for one person might not be relevant for another.

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