People can list countless reasons for the importance of computers.
- For someone with a disability, for example, a computer may offer freedom to communicate, learn, or work without leaving home. (see Fig. 1)
- For a sales professional, a PC may mean the ability to communicate whenever necessary, to track
leads, and to manage an ever-changing schedule.
- For a researcher, a computer
may be the workhorse that docs painstaking and time-consuming calculations. (see Fig. 2)
Fig. 1: Disabled Person uses a computer.
Fig. 2: Computer use for research purpose.
But if you took all the benefits that people derive from computers, mixed them
together, and distilled them down into a single element, what would you have?
The answer is simple: information.
Computers are important because information is so essential to our lives. And
information is more than the stuff you see and hear on television. Facts in a textbook or an encyclopedia are information, bur only one kind. Mathematical formulas and their results are information, too, as are the plans for a building or the recipe for a cake. Pictures, songs, addresses, games, menus, shopping lists, resumes—the list goes on and on. All these things and many others can be thought of as information, and they can all be stored and processed by computers.
Actually, computers store these things as data, not as information, but you’ll learn the difference between the two later in the chapters. So, when you consider the importance
of computers in our society, think instead about the importance of information. As
tools for working with information, and for creating new information, computers
may be one of humanity's most important creations.