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A Common Vision of the Information Society?

A universal definition of the information society does not really exist. Proposed definitions are often partial, and take into account only specific problems or effects. However, the information society is a phenomenon which permeates every aspect of our lives, affecting every cell of society and every sector of activity.  


Three elements can nevertheless be considered as constituting the basis of the information society, namely:

  • Information and knowledge;

  • Proliferation of information and communication technologies (ICT);

  • Access to and use of ICTs.  


Information and knowledge have always been of paramount importance in human society, and a vehicle of power and wealth. Today, with the advent of ICTs, knowledge is free to circulate seamlessly, irrespective of distance, and the transmission of a great amount of information from one side of the world to the other can take place in a matter of seconds.  


ICTs are today what industrial machines were during the industrial revolution; they have revolutionized the ways of working, transformed the economy, had an irreversible impact on the way people live, and have shaped a new society, the "information society".

Information and communication technologies are seen by the international community as being, inter alia:

Through ICTs, those living in today’s information society may be better able to fulfill their potential and realize their projects and ideas. But ICTs also demand a re-organization of the traditional social, economic and political structures, to become more flexible, participatory and decentralized [G-7 Brussels 1995].   


To maximize the benefits of the information society, and to bring these benefits to the entire world’s population, a common environment needs to be created that enables the access to and the use of ICTs, by establishing the principles that will guide the growth of the information society. These principles have begun to be discussed during regional and global forums on the information society and on ICTs, giving rise to several declarations, action plans and other related documents.   

Your views on the global information society: Results of the WSIS Opinion Survey will be published shortly.

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Updated : 2011-04-04