chapter  1
17 Pages



Who can doubt that new technologies, especially information and communication technologies (ICTs), are now an integral part of a society profoundly different from that which has gone before? Computers are a universal tool in all leading economic nations and increasingly so in the poorer countries. The Internet is a tool of daily life for hundreds of millions, while thirdgeneration mobile phones will soon be the norm. New, less hierarchical networks of communication are being developed and new goods and services are proliferating. Services and information can be acquired virtually instantly. For some time it has been asserted that we are, or soon will be, in a period of revolutionary social and economic change as fundamental as the Industrial Revolution (Drucker, 1969; Bell, 1973; Dutton et al., 1999; Castells, 2000).