The information and communication technology revolution can be easily recognized as the latest revolution in the history of mankind, impacting every facet of business, society, and life worldwide with a speed beyond imagination. The last centuries have seen a continuous evolution process which started with the industrial revolution at the end of eighteenth century. This revolution has its roots in the invention of the first electronic computers in the 1940s, continued with the development of information technology during the following decades and exploded in the early ’90s. In the 1960s and ’70s, computer technology was mainly utilized in business data processing and scientific applications of a mostly number crunching nature. As a result, the use of this technology was limited to those who had a good command of these systems and computer programming languages. With the invention of microprocessors a new idea of distributed information established itself and computers became available on a personal basis. The contemporary development of networking both on a local and a wide area (LAN and WAN) merged computer and information technology with telecommunication. In the 1980s the matching of the two technologies led to the information communication technology, with a strong focus on the management and dissemination of information by both providers and users.
The most noticeable explosion in the information and communication technology revolution was the creation of the World Wide Web (WWW) and its potential in the early 1990s. During the past two decades, WWW technologies have become the driving force in allowing people worldwide to communicate and exchange information in ways that have created a totally new dimension for mankind, at such a point that “global village” are the words today better describing our planet. In recent years, through the use of web-enabled technologies, organizations of all types and sizes around the world have managed to utilize these technologies to conduct both information processing and dissemination with their prospective customers, suppliers, students, and governments. These technologies, now allowing readily available information for everyone regardless of their geographic location, bring the true meaning of the information age to its full realization and prepare a new era for mankind: the knowledge society.
In recent years, the science of understanding the nature of information processing and management combined with computer and telecommunication technologies to process, disseminate, and manage information has become known as “Information and Communication Science and Technology.” It has many resources and components and originated many new disciplines but, what’s more, it intervened in changing the mankind’s habits and lifestyle.
As information and communication science and technology have profoundly impacted science, business, society, and every other aspect of life on our planet, numerous researchers around the world have focused on accumulating knowledge on this discipline and its effects and influences. The volume and intensity of research in the field of information and communication science and technology and the study of its implications on human and social behavior has by far exceeded many other fields of science, and the sheer impact of research discoveries in this area has become the driving force of many emerging studies, technologies and applications. No longer is this discipline limited to a few technology-related areas, but, as for many other modern fields of knowledge, information and communication science and technology are today a collection of a great variety of specific disciplines. This collection process has been accomplished by producing research results to understand the potentials, problems, and challenges of each individual discipline, analyzing the cross-fertilization on neighboring fields of knowledge and trying to expand the body of literature related to the topics of that discipline. As a result we can today use the words of D. de Kerchkove (1995) who stated that a technology enters human culture when it disappears or, to be more precise, when it becomes transparent.
To access the latest research related to the many disciplines of the information and communication science and technology field, we decided to launch an encyclopedia project where researchers from all over the world would assist us in providing the necessary coverage of each respective discipline in information and communication science and technology and in the fields affected from its influence and application. The primary objective of this project was to assemble research coverage related to the disciplines selected for this encyclopedia by defining the technologies, terms, and acronyms related to each discipline, and providing the most comprehensive list of research references related to each discipline.
To provide the most comprehensive, in-depth, and recent coverage of the developments of information and communication science and technology and its application and influence, three different areas of interest were selected:
- product ICT, focusing on materials, instruments for ICT, i.e. hardware and software for information communication, including studies, hypotheses, case studies etc.
- process ICT, focusing on processes including ICT use or presence, i.e. the organization and management of processes in different environments by means of ICT (where it is used), and the planning and carrying out of experiences and projects for information and communication management and/or involving ICT use
- context ICT, focusing on the most pervasive presence of ICT, i.e. experiences, studies and researches on information and communication technologies in informal and/or not well structured contexts, otherwise said the influence of ICT on human and social phenomena (when there is no planned and structured ICT intervention but the changes inducted by ICT clearly emerge).
In order to provide the best balanced coverage of concepts and issues related to the selected topics of this encyclopedia, researchers from around the world were asked to submit proposals describing their experiences and the contribution of their work to the encyclopedia. All proposals were carefully reviewed by the editors-in-chief in light of their suitability, the authors’ records of similar work in the area of the proposed topics, and the excellence of their proposals. The goal was to assemble the best minds in the information and communication science and technology field and their use and application from all over the world to contribute entries to the encyclopedia. Each text was forwarded to at least three expert external reviewers on a double-blind, peer review basis. Only submissions with strong and favorable reviews were chosen as entries for this encyclopedia.
As a result, this encyclopedia includes more than 100 entries highlighting current concepts, issues and emerging technologies, studies and applications. All entries are written by distinguished scholars from many prominent research institutions all over the world. Thousand technical and managerial terms enhance these entries. Each of these terms has a description that allows the readers of this extensive research source to learn the language and terminology of the field. In addition, this encyclopedia offers a thorough reference section with sources of additional information for scholars, students, and researchers in the field of information science and technology.
To assist readers in navigating and identifying needed information, this encyclopedia has been organized by listing all entries in an introductive chapter to each section.
In addition, a comprehensive glossary of all terms directs readers to a short definition of the subject. A keyword index is also available, listing the most important concepts.
To keep up with emerging technologies and research discoveries, regular entry additions will be made to the online version of the encyclopedia. We are pleased to add that complimentary online access to this encyclopedia for the life of the edition will be provided to any library with the purchase of the print copy. This complimentary online availability will allow students, researchers, and corporate managers to access the latest contents of this comprehensive and in-depth encyclopedia regardless of their location. This particular feature will prove to be an extremely valuable resource for distance learning educational programs worldwide.
The diverse and comprehensive coverage of multiple disciplines in the field of information and communication of science and technology in this authoritative encyclopedia will contribute to a better understanding of all topics, researches, and discoveries in this evolving, significant field of study. Furthermore, the contributions included in this encyclopedia will be instrumental in the expansion of the body of knowledge in this vast field. The coverage of this encyclopedia provides strength to this reference resource for both information and communication science and technology researchers and also decision makers in obtaining a greater understanding of the concepts, issues, problems, trends, challenges and opportunities related to this field of study. It is our sincere hope that this publication and its vast amount of information and research will assist our colleagues, their students, and our organizational decision makers in enhancing their understanding of this discipline and its application. Perhaps this publication will even inspire its readers to contribute to the current discoveries in this immense field, which can assist the mankind in making the world a better place to live in.