The modern contemporary society provides a social system of which knowledge and technology play critical and influential roles. The modern cognitive revolution (information technology revolution) has resulted in a knowledge society which is based on a set of values, laws, attitudes and behaviors that human societies have not witnessed before. Accordingly, this study sought to examine the dialectical and reciprocal relationship between knowledge and social structure, along with the impact of information technology on the structure of society, especially the economically and culturally. The study also examines the impact of information technology on the structure of the Arab society, and then establishes a set of practical approaches to the development of the Arab information society.
The information society is an economic and social system where knowledge and information constitute an essential source therein. This prompted some to divide the world on the basis of knowledge, a society for knowledge and its innovators, and a consumer society for this knowledge. Although interest in information is not a new phenomenon, it mounted more attention as humans progressed in various fields of life-;- scientific, industrial and urban. The need for information has increased dramatically after the Industrial Revolution-;- due to the massive developments in various areas and fields. Since the nineties of the last century, the world has been experiencing a comprehensive a serious discussion about the best way to deal with the information and communication technological revolution. Especially since the current developments herald a new future on the level of achievements in technology, electronic research centers, and implementation programs in managerial work areas. The result of these developments has led to the use of new terms such as ‘consumer society’, ‘information society’, ‘post-modern’ and ‘post-industrial society’. On these bases, information has the greatest impact on the contemporary life.
The result of these developments that led to the cognitive revolution, which has become a knowledge society, depends, mainly, on basic knowledge as an asset. That the experience of human resources, efficiency, knowledge and skills are the basis for the comprehensive human development. That any of these knowledge resources can create gain and exploitation of production capacities in a way that is better than before.
From this standpoint, the twenty first century has laid new concepts for the information society and the knowledge economy. Both being the new foundation of the global economic structure, and ICT becoming the ideal model in management and processing data in the industrial and agricultural activities as well as overcoming technical obstacles to the application on the ground. The tremendous development in information and communication technology forces itself today on the work stage. We are yet to see the impact of these developments on the social and political platforms (see, Landau: 75).
The Arab world in particular and the developing world generally will be the most affected by the negative consequences of these technologies and developments. These countries use only 15% of the world’s telephone lines, consume 20% of the world’s energy and amount to 80% of the world’s population. On the other hand, the more developed countries consume about 80% of the world’s energy while only accounting for 20% of the world’s population. There is obviously a large and strenuous gap between both the developed world and the developing world that we must work to reduce (see Mohieddin: 23)
The information revolution has become the main feature of the twenty first century. It has both influenced and interfered with another revolution, the modern communications revolution. All this has led to an explosion of new information, so big in fact, that is has become difficult for humans to absorb all the new available information and exploit it as it should. This difficulty made it imperative for individuals and communities to develop techniques and methods to enable themselves to interact with these developments at an optimal level.
The knowledge society should not be-limit-ed to the production and circulation of information, but it needs to establish a culture that respects the making and exploitation of the information in the right way. This requires the creation of a social and political cultural environment which plays a role in the daily life of the community.
The subject of the study and its Epistemological problematics:
The last decade of the twentieth century and the twenty first century have witnessed tremendous progress in the field of information technology. This era has produced many mechanisms for producing knowledge as well as modern technological means. This transformed the world into a small global village, where the west interacts with the east (Abbas: 100).
This era was also characterized with an unprecedented information technology revolution. A cognitive revolution that penetrates cultures, one with high-fidelity in telecommunications and technology knows no bounds. It’s the era of words and images capable of capturing the minds of its viewers in order to achieve the internationalism of capital. Scientific knowledge has grown spectacularly and unexpectedly. It has been able to break down the fundamentals of thought, the same fundamentals that are entrenched in the human mind. Some have even described this revolution as representing a physical revolution that has been unable to keep up with the contemporary moral, religious and spiritual revolution capable of equating with it (Hegazy: 55).
An explosion of information took place with the end of the twentieth century and led to the emergence of various applications of the internet and the information revolution. The concept of production has subsequently changed to the ability to produce both knowledge and technology. It is also measured in the ease of access to information and knowledge, the development of traditional industries and increasing their efficiency, and scientific research output and its applications in various areas of life.
Since the eighties, most developing countries have begun to develop a strategy for development based on the exploitation of information and communication technology at different levels depending on the nature of each country and the level of economic resources plans. These countries’ Strategic plans are generally focused on two major issues:
(1) Use of Information Technology for the development important sectors such as education, health and government system.
(2) The use of information technology in the development of new domestic industries in the field of information technology to meet the needs of the local market and reduce dependence on foreign countries and expertise.
In this era, knowledge has become the one true power that controls the fate of the world. Thus, schemes and development programs depend on the extent of control of information, in terms of production and acquisition, selection and processing, storage and use in accordance with efficient policies in order to reach specific and achievable targets and goals.
In this way, the Arab countries face a number of factors that affect the informational structure of society, especially with the increasing role and the growing number of variables in the global arena. Of these variables:
• The world is heading towards a knowledge economy.
• Technologies are the basic knowledge in this economy.
• Technological development is concentrated within a few countries, and even more with a few companies in the private sector.
• Global knowledge systems are becoming more enclosed and secretive.
• The value of knowledge is maximized in goods and services. Hence, it is relatively decreasing the value of raw materials and labor, and this gradually leads to a decrease in the comparative advantages of developing countries.
• The Information Society is an environment that allows the dissemination of information and knowledge as to allow all sectors of society to exploit it in economic, social, cultural and political development.
• The Information Society represents a new and higher form of the social organization stages.
• Information technology has played an important role in providing knowledge and turning it into information-;- making it a tool for economic, cultural and security development.
In this context, the Arab states, struggling with these variables and changes, are invited to improve their cognitive abilities, and to seek to establish a knowledge-based society in the strict meaning of the term. This should be done not only on the formal level, but on a realistic level. That is in order to accelerate the process of comprehensive development, which will allow the Arab countries to generate their technology locally, while following specific and viable policies.
In light of these variables that reflect the realities and challenges of the information society, the subject of this study is determined in the presentation and analysis of the reality of the information and knowledge society in the Arab world. This is done through the use of a number of indicators and statistics derived from international and local reports, in addition to examining previous studies as well.
This paper is structured on two main points:
The first idea: that there is a reciprocal dialectical relationship between knowledge and social structure: If knowledge affects the community where it exists, this community also plays an active role in shaping the quality and development of this knowledge.
The second idea: technology brought about a number of effects on the structure of society, affecting the economic structure, and changed its features, and also affecting the cultural structure, and changed its components and elements.
Conceptualizing ICTs for Development
In the following section, I examine the main concepts which used in this study, with their definitions. Pelgrum and Law (2003) state that near the end of the 1980s, the term ‘computers’ was replaced by ‘IT’ (information technology) signifying a shift of focus from computing technology to the capacity to store and retrieve information. This was followed by the introduction of the term ‘ICT’ (information and communication technology) around 1992, when e-mail started to become available to the general public (Pelgrum, W.J.-;- Law, N., 2003).
The ICTs have widespread all over the world, and have affected every corner in the globe (see Daniels 2002). This term generally refers to “Technologies and tools that people use to share, distribute, gather information, and to communicate with one another...through the use of computers and interconnected computer networks” (Association for Progressive Communication, 2000). Alrasheedi use this term to refer to the combination of computer-based and communication-based technologies used for teaching and learning, data processing, information gathering, sharing, and disseminating purposes.” (Alrasheedi 2009: 24). According to a United Nations report (1999) ICTs cover Internet service provision, telecommunications equipment and services, information technology equipment and services, media and broadcasting, libraries and documentation centers, commercial information providers, network-based information services, and other related information and communication activities.
Connected with the ICTs, e-government is considered a new concept which refers to the computerization of government. However, e-government s most enthusiastic advocates hope that e-government can do much more: they hope it will contribute to efficiency, transparency, accountability, and improved service delivery in government. Other potential benefits arguably include increased interaction between government and citizens, and spillover effects to the private sector, as government becomes more efficient (Bowman 2009: 18).
According to Gunkel (2003), the term ‘digital divide’ became popular after being used by the then US vice-president Al Gore in 1996 to explain the problems in the US education sector resulting from an unequal distribution of information technologies. It was also used to refer to the uneven access to ICTs such as the Internet… The digital divide can be defined as a lack of technological access´-or-ownership. It is the difference between the haves and have-nots of today’s information age (Munster 2005). A definition provided by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) (2001) extends this notion by acknowledging the fact that the divide can exist between individuals, households, companies and regions. Likewise, Rao (2005) argues that the digital divide can have multiple dimensions: it can exist between countries and between two communities within a country. Different factors such as gender difference (Coopers, 2006), historical, socio-economic and environmental issues (Ç-;-ilan et al., 2009-;- Cullen, 2003-;- Henten et al., 2004-;- Kraemer, 2005-;- Law, 2004-;- Mutula, 2005-;- Pick and Azari, 2010-;- Rhodes, 2005) have been identified as the reasons for the digital divide. (Bidit Dey and Faizan Ali In Dey et.al. 2016: 4).
Informatics and the movement of postmodernism: Theoretical Approach
There is a link between the knowledge of the different forms and levels of social frameworks in which they exist. Any person who is familiar with philosophers and thinkers soon discovers a discrepancy and even contradiction in these philosophers and thinkers’ positions when they define the nature of the relationship between social factors and frameworks effectively in knowledge.
There is a group that sees knowledge as something everlasting´-or-an independent variable which leads to the development of subsequent changes in the social structure. This same group finds links between the rule of certain types of knowledge "religious - metaphysical - status etc...”, and the emergence of certain forms of social systems. This group is considered the supporters of ideal -dir-ection. The other group sees knowledge as the dependent variable,´-or-consequential phenomenon. Existence and development of knowledge is linked to the existence of certain situations and its change. This group is called the supporters of the physical -dir-ection, those who believe that the issue of existentialism is more important than consciousness. Each team presents their analytical model in which they believe is more efficient in dealing with the relationship between knowledge and social construction.
Many concepts have been used during the age of globalization and the information revolution such as cyber, and genetic technology, automation "automatic generalization" and, "Robot Solutions (Android).” Associated trends have impacted heavily on the structure and culture of the global community in general and in particular the Arab community. It is noted that these concepts and trends, are -dir-ectly related to information technology, and linked to more clearly present our time, which is often described as post-modernism.
There is no doubt that an enormous cognitive revolution, inspiring in the field of information and communication technology, has led to the transfer of the thought of modernity "Age of Enlightenment" to the post-modern "humanism", where it now transitions from the physical form to the moral form. This means, as some researchers believe, that the modernity project has come to an end, and we need to move on to a new stage and a new thought-;- the post-modern stage.
The postmodern group of thinkers has contributed to instrumental concepts in various fields including literary, art, architecture, philosophy, politics, economics, anthropology and sociology. In spite of the diversity of trends of postmodernism, the researchers split between those who support and those who oppose of the culture of postmodernism. However, this movement generally refers to how researchers feel that there are clear discrepancies between the apparent cultural discourse and the underlying process. That between the culture of globalization, "the call for a new world order to emphasizes the unity between the poles of the world and its different countries," and the increasing religious and national revival movement, which has spread in some societies, "adheres to the heritage and cultural identity and privacy."
If we agree that modernity has become associated with the comprehensive social movement to move to a new capitalistic pattern characterized by rationality and cultural diversity, then postmodern, in part, has been associated with trends in capital and the rebellious movement against the failures of what some may call the upper stage of modernity´-or-late capitalism. Indeed, the social movement of postmodernism came promising, transitioning into a completely new style of which some have described as a consumer society´-or-the information society´-or-the world of informatics.
Despite the obvious ambiguity and overlap in the concept of post-modernism, as seen in the literature of social critical thought, the following can be drawn:
1- Postmodernism represents the general humanitarian movement which based on the moral axis in the interpretation of issues and problems of human. In other words, the post-modern movement represents a cultural movement with social and moral implications. It is generally calling for the understanding of reality from an ethical perspective, not from the physical perspective, moving away from universities and giving a greater role to national cultures and human relations.
2- It is a public intellectual movement-;- it emerged in response to the importance of the word and image on the human minds. That controls which involves mechanisms of evolution in communications and information technology, and the spread of a dominant culture in the world,´-or-rather constitutes the dominance of this system’s mechanisms.
3- It is an expression of the contradictions between the global discourse "culture of globalization", and the actual practices at the community level.
As for the post-modern characteristics, the most important manifestations, as reflected the works of the thinkers of the era, are:
a. The replacement of production of goods with scientific knowledge, meaning that there should be an interest in culture rather than focusing on the material.
b. Technological innovation in the art of the production of information and communication management institutions is more than the ability to organize the work process.
c. The focus on the importance of technical specialization and the emergence of technological services.
Daniel Bill asserts the importance of the enormous development in the field of communication and information, and believes that a cultural revolution as a model for modern information represents a framework for practical work in the community. Amongst the most important characteristics of this stage in the disintegration of social systems. Harvey, through his analysis of the phenomenon of post-modernism, reaches to a link between culture and power. Scott Lash comes to confirm that postmodernism represents a cultural phenomenon. Michel Foucault concluded that the source of power is no longer of material resources, but from less tangible resources such as the media, education, values and ideas. It should be noted that the power of the intangible, in terms of the ability given by verbal expressions, and where it maintains readability and persuasion, incites the adoption of a vision of the world´-or-to change it, and then the ability to influence in the world, and thereby change the world itself. In the words of Bourdieu, it is almost semi-magical allowing it to reach the equivalent of its economic power thanks to its ability to fulfill.
Dominique Nora, an IT scientist, provided exhaustive analysis in her book titled "Invaders world of information," a book that referred to the informatics implications for the overall socio-economic life and the future of man. The researcher believes that halting at the social repercussions resulting from the information revolution creates a paradox of contradictory opposites. We then find tremendous progress´-or-worrying decline, and the promoting of democratic ideals for the better,´-or-marginalizing the awareness of the citizen. This is done through a strong media that controls the general flow of information well enough, that they can tilt society to one side´-or-the other. Dominique calls this stage post-modernity.
The attributes of post-modernism are highlighted in the field of knowledge, where boundaries between different cognitive research disappear, and highlights the new social interfaces and new mixed knowledge such as: women s studies, youth, ethnic studies, urban and cultural, as well as the fading boundaries between science, literature, ideology, and between literature and criticism, philosophy and cultural criticism.
Hence the meaning of knowledge has changed as a result of three factors:
1- The demise of the boundaries between what is science and what is not science.
2- Loss of credibility for comprehensive knowledge.
3- Looking at knowledge as it is tangled with the language and with power.
A switch to postmodern offers ideas that challenge the enlightenment model of social knowledge. It aims to look at everything that is trying to rethink the humanities. This postmodern knowledge defies any separation between the branches of knowledge, and any separation between science and literature, and ideology.
Then the nature of knowledge has changed as societies enter the postmodern era. Computerized Knowledge is becoming´-or-is on its way to becoming a core strength in production, which in turn affects the structure of the work force in the developed countries. Multinational corporations, which are an important tool for capital turnover and investment decisions, have become outside the scope of control of many countries. Strength and knowledge are simply two aspects of the same issue for those who make the decisions and those who know.
Postmodernism is can be viewed as a presentation and at the same time a strong cultural image of the future for the formulation of new global cultural concepts. These concepts are not from the perspective of the alleged homogeneity operations, (much like the theories representing cultural imperialism and the Americanization of consumer culture as a major global culture rode on the back of the economic and political domination of the west) but of diversity, pluralism, rich perspective in the languages of the speech, customs of local people and practices that are resistant to the system and regularity.
ICTs have been diffused through increased Internet and mobile cellular phone sub-script-ions. According to UNESCO (2002) information and communication technology (ICT) may be regarded as the combination of ‘Informatics technology’ with other related technology, specifically communication technology. This means that ICTs included both information and communication in new modern formula of using technology.
There is an agreement among many studies about the wide meanings, -function-s, and agents of ICTs (see, Baron et al. 2006-;- Davis 1989-;- Venkatesh et al. 2003-;- Ricciardi and Harfouche 2016). Bowman sees the (ICTs) as new technologies that include, but are not-limit-ed to, computers and other devices that can be used to do the following with information: Communicate, Search for, Create, Edit, Store, Share. (Bowman 2009: 9). Bowman asserts the -function-al multiplicity of new technologies which help us in many trends such as communication, searching, and sharing.
In addition, the ICTs policy process has engaged many agents such as governments, domestic civil society, multilateral organizations, donors, indigenous private sector organizations and multinationals. Bowman mentioned that “governments, businesses, donors and civil society activists make decisions daily about the manner in which this technology will potentially change the social, political and economic orders of their nations and regions” (Bowman 2009: 4-5).
Despite the conventional belief that ICT investment affects output positively, the role of ICT in enhancing economic growth is not clear in the literature. Researchers have used different estimation strategies and different countries to examine this relationship. Unavailability of sufficient time series data has always been a problem for researchers to conduct country-specific studies. This is particularly true for developing countries since the earliest data on ICT is only from the late 1980s. Hence, researchers have had to wait until recently to have an acceptable sample size in order to undertake time series estimations. Using a Granger causality framework for six ICT leading countries from Europe (Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, and Switzerland), Khalili et al. (2014) found uni-dir-ectional causality running from ICT to economic growth in the long run over the period 1990 to 2011. Shahiduzzaman and Alam (2014) found that ICT investment had a significantly positive impact on output, labor productivity, and technical progress in Australia, although the contribution of ICT capital has slowed down in recent years. (Das et. al. in Dey et.al. 2016: 144-;- and see also many studies about the role of ICTs in development in different countries such as: Mukerji 2013 in rural India-;- Barue 2013 in Estonia-;- Adera et. al. 2014 in East and Southern Africa).
ICTs is part of new and modern technology which many such as governments, businesses, donors and civil society activists have seen it as an important factor in changing social, political and economic reality in their countries. The role of ICTs in the development has been examined and analyzed in many studies. This role has appeared in many forms such as governmental policies, economic growth, and improving specific fields such as education and e-governance (see, Jordan 2012-;- Anastasiades and Zaranis 2016).
With regard to the relationship between information and communication many scholars refer to the role of ICTs in education through many forms such as teleconferencing, email, television lessons, e-learning, digital library etc. (see, Sharma, 2003-;- Sanyal, 2001-;- Bhattacharya and Sharma, 2007-;- Jhurree 2005). Das, Khan and Chowdhury noticed that the role of ICTs in affecting economic growth came in three different ways. “First, it can assist economy-wide technology diffusion and innovation. Second, it can improve the quality of decision making by economic agents. And finally, it can raise the output level by creating demand for goods and services and by lowering costs of production” (Das et. al. in Dey et.al. 2016:141, see also Sassi & Goaied, 2013-;- Khayyat et al., 2014-;- Shahiduzzaman & Alam, 2014-;- Lee 2016).
The scientific and technological revolution has clearly affected the different sectors and segments of society. It has opened important horizons in creating new jobs, hence, boosting demand for qualified and highly skilled labor. The level of technological development is determined by the cultural level of the society that produces ideas and instruments such as the production of primary electronics computers, accurate information, biochemistry and genetic engineering. All of this is a product of human thought through scientific research and technological applications, as well as the development of communities and its level of technological development to be able to improve the members and meet their needs (see Lee 2015).
In addition ICTs have played very effective roles in the emergence and spread of E-commerce that have affected the business environment at the local and global levels. E-Trade has the potential for radical change of economic activities and the social environment. It is expected that the developed countries will undergo rapid changes that will occur in the economic and social environment. These changes will be through the reformulation of its structures and institutional laws and legislation. There are five main channels through which e-commerce can exert influence on the local economy and the global economic framework-;- most notably that e-commerce will change the nature of the market, where traditional methods are changing the practice of business activity. New services and companies will begin to appear that specialize in data banks, company information and marketing information (see, Dennis et. al. 3015-;- Dyche 2015-;- Assar and Boughzala 2010).
New products such as containers of electronic information as CD-ROMs, Multimedia, Super´-or-Hypermedia vessels will appear. New markets related to the information industry will be formed to publish and market the product knowledge across the World Wide Web. It will also generate new close relations between the producer and the consumer. With the emergence of many services to transfer information such as e-mail, teletext services, video calls, the consumer sector was able to take advantage of this e-commerce techniques to get the best goods at the lowest prices.
The impact of information technology on the global structure of society
The importance of role of information in the community has been increasing more than ever, rechecking unprecedented levels. This prompted some to call this era the Information Age, and naming what is happening, the Information Revolution. This change is also called the third wave, after the two initial waves, the agricultural revolution and the industrial revolution.
Information in all its forms has become digitized allowing it to become used on the computer network, and more importantly, the internet. This has led to the development of a basic methodology in the new economy named the Internet Economy, where finance, banking, commercial and service businesses can be conducted through E-commerce and E-Shopping. We can examine the most important effects of information technology on the society structure using the following elements:
●-;- The transition to the Information Economy: knowledge-based economy
With the coming of the third millennium, there is no doubt that the precursors expectations of the spread of the informational economy have become a reality experienced by the world. This new reality is no longer solely practiced by the developed world, but has extended and imposed presence in the rest of the developing world, which in turn, are trying to catch up and prove their presence on the world economic map.
The community of the informational economy in which we live today is the result of a shift from an industrial economy, a society in which capital is a strategic resource, to the economy of knowledge, where information constitutes the primary strategic resource. Some analysts believe that the current civilization was transformed from an industrial economy to an information economy. This shift began in the United States since 1956, as the information industry ranked first, where a large proportion of the workforce effort was spent on the production of services and informational goods.
The knowledge economy is an economy in which knowledge achieves the bulk of the value added. This means that the knowledge in the economy is an essential component in the production process as in marketing, meaning that growth also increases with this component. The meaning of it for the third time is that this type of economy rises on the shoulders of information and communication technology, since it was the core platform that it started at. We can distinguish between two types of economies. The first type is the Knowledge Economy, which is based on information from the ground up, meaning that information is the only element in the production process, as well as being the only product of the economy. This type of economy is also called several names such as the "information economy"´-or-"symbolic economy"´-or-"post-industrial economy. The second type is a Knowledge Based Economy-;- an economy of which knowledge places a big role in the creation of wealth. The information economy is a monopolistic economy, where the size of the information industry in the world amounted to exceed -$- 3 trillion. This figure represents 50 to 60% of the gross national product of industrialized countries. This is reflected in the vast knowledge output gap between developing and developed countries-;- each party has its own knowledge, but also has different rates of consumption of digital technology.
●-;- Widespread E-commerce
The emergence and spread of E-commerce is one of the most important developments that have affected still affect the business environment at the local and global levels. E-Trade has the potential for radical change of economic activities and the social environment. It is expected that the developed countries will undergo rapid changes that will occur in the economic and social environment. These changes will be through the reformulation of its structures and institutional laws and legislation.
There are five main channels through which e-commerce can exert influence on the local economy and the global economic framework, most notably that e-commerce will change the nature of the market, where traditional methods are changing the practice of business activity. New services and companies will begin to appear that specialize in data banks, company information and marketing information.
New products such as containers of electronic information as CD-ROMs, Multimedia, Super´-or-Hypermedia vessels will appear. New markets related to the information industry will be formed to publish and market the product knowledge across the World Wide Web. It will also generate new close relations between the producer and the consumer. With the emergence of many services to transfer information such as e-mail, teletext services, video calls, the consumer sector was able to take advantage of this e-commerce techniques to get the best goods at the lowest prices.
Thus, the method of organizing labor and the environment will change. Also new channels of transmission of knowledge will open, and new ways of online human interaction will develop, and there will be a need for more flexibility and speed to adapt to this changing society. Previously, the storage and display methods only allowed the use of photographs, films, radio and television, currently-;- it is heavily dependent on computers of different kinds in the storing and processing of information. According to these changes, employees and their skills will be revaluated, where traditional skills are no longer needed in the work of the information society. The structure of the society in the information age will be completely different.
●-;- Growth of the IT culture
The scientific and technological revolution has clearly affected the different sectors and segments of society. It has opened important horizons in creating new jobs, hence, boosting demand for qualified and highly skilled labor. The level of technological development is determined by the cultural level of the society that produces ideas and instruments such as the production of primary electronics computers, accurate information, biochemistry and genetic engineering. All of this is a product of human thought through scientific research and technological applications, as well as the development of communities and its level of technological development to be able to improve the members and meet their needs.
Information and culture is a set of science and knowledge that has been created´-or-developed by a student in his field of knowledge in terms of its nature, sources, characteristics, and types, which gives him the ability to employ skills and reinvest it, to contribute to the development of the society. Informatics is the main weapon used by the human in the face of the challenges thought out the ages. Human’s ability to invest information in the society is what distinguishes us from other creatures, so the moral is not just about the existence of the information, but the availability of the elements needed to invest it back.
Culture is the most important product of the information society, and we must have access to the sources of culture available to all citizens. “Culture For All” principle can t be neglected in the information society, for it forms a core of creativity and innovation. It is important to facilitate the exchange and distribution of cultural materials -print-ed´-or-digital, and encourage clubs, cultural associations, forums, and support for intellectual activities, including libraries, periodicals, books and the Internet, as well as attention to cultural and artistic activities, including theater, cinema, art galleries, and the pursuit of interest in foreign languages in the various stages of education.
●-;- Monetary exchange
Structural changes go beyond the mere appearance of contemporary information as a new source of wealth and power. The exchange of cash today itself is nothing more than only numbers and symbols recorded on the computers of international networks. Paper currency today seems to be going steadily towards become a secondary currency alongside the old forms of currency: gold, silver. E-cash is not just a mere sequence of zeros and ones careful moving from one computer to another across the international network.
E-commerce has entered into the global economy from is widest doors, and soon will control the bulk of the global markets. The worlds electronic trade volume per year amounts to more than 2.5 trillion dollars. The global monetary exchange exceeds this figure, ranging from 70 to 100 trillion dollars. Thus, we can say that today s e-commerce volume exceeded 5% of world trade. Electronic trade depends on the different modes ranging from exchanges across the international network of computers, the customer, the bank and the producing company. It also depends on the VISA cards used by more than 200 million people today to buy services at over seven restaurants, hotels and shopping malls that accepted VISA payment cards, and other bank credit cards. This as well as e-currency specific cards, such as: phone cards, rail system cars, meal cards in restaurants, schools and institutions.
●-;- Information consumption
This change is concentrated in the contemporary culture industry, the most important being communications, entertainment, computer technology and information industry. It is an industry promoted by the multi-national global capitalistic companies, for the purpose of cultural invasion and the formation of awareness. Thus, it is called Consciousness Industries.
There is no doubt that this type of development has led to the emergence of a new pattern of consumption, it is the consumption of knowledge, information and electronics. Consumption of those cultural goods also occupies a high ranking in the hierarchy of consumer sequence, where the consumption of ICT goods requires a higher level of income and the ability to use information and distribute it. It is therefore the the consumption of this type of goods is a social status symbol.
From this standpoint, communications and computing companies are grappling to develop new devices and new materials. Everything agree however, that the computing, communications and media technology in the future will be different from what we know today. We can say that the form of contemporary consumption, has differed from the first forms of consumption, where it transitioned from a focus on all that is material to focus on the cultural aspect of symbolic consumption.
●-;- Labor force and unemployment
Change to the perceptions of industry, agriculture, services and unemployment, and therefore the objective of planning to determine the future development trends in developing countries can ignore the upcoming changes in the basic concepts of the global economy. It must be remembered that the industrial revolution brought with it new methods and concepts, agriculture having comprised of more than half the population, it dropped to third, then a fifth. In the United States, farmers do not make up more than 2% of the population-;- this small group yet produces the largest amount of food commodities in the world.
The world witnessed as it entered the twenty first century a similar development in the field of industry. Developed countries have ended industrial occupations deemed too dangerous and difficult and replaced them with machines programmed to work and a few workers watching over them. Therefore, we note a trend towards a steady and continuous increase in the number of employees in the information sector and in return the shrinking number of workers in agriculture and industry. Over three quarters of the US work force is in some way related to information systems.
●-;- The digital divide: the disparity between information and technology
The digital divide between the developing world and the developed world has widened. This is mainly due to how the information and communications technology sector is by nature more prone to monopolies and merges. It could also be attributed to the high cost of the infrastructure for high-speed channels of information, to the increasing migration of creative minds in the developing world to the outside, and finally to the severe imbalance in the distribution of communication range waves in between developed and developing countries. Cyberspace has become a place where the developed world’s powers prevail, most of its regions and corners.
At the Arab level, there is still a digital divide between the Arab information society and the global counterpart. The Arab world stands today in front of challenges unprecedented in size, and the goals they are meant to achieve. These challenges force the question of the presence of the Arabs, their future and their location on the map of the world in the third millennium.
If we look, for example, to Arab world, we will discover the extent of just how large the gap of the digital divide between the Arab world and the rest of the world. Through monitoring the use of the Internet, we will notice that, despite the large increase in the number of Internet users in the world, the share of the Arab countries is still below average, both in terms of daily frequency´-or-size of e-commerce conducted through this medium.
One study suggests that the United States tops the list of the most widely used personal computers in the world at a rate of 459 computers for every one thousand people, compared to 35 computers per one thousand in Europe, and not more than 10 computers per thousand people in the rest of the world. As for the use of computers and the Internet in the Arab region. According to the latest statistics, there are 1.4 computers per one hundred citizen in the Arab region on average,´-or-about one fifth the global average of 7.7. The Internet usage rate is associated with phone numbers and computers, note that there are seven fixed telephone lines per one hundred people in the Arab region as compared to global average of 15.2. There is a discrepancy between the Arab countries in the use of the Internet. In some countries, the Internet service is still in its infancy, but in the Arab region as a whole it is 7.5 per thousand people and in the Gulf states, 32, while the global average 55 per thousand people. In contrast, in Europe there is about 100 million users of the World Wide Web.
●-;- The Penetration of information and the threat to the cultural security of the community
Scientific studies indicate the seriousness of the flow of information through the internet. Despite the pros of the internet and the flow and trading information across the network, but the seriousness of the situation can be seen as highly destructive. Some have even called it an informatics bomb comparing its seriousness to that of a nuclear´-or-hydrogen bomb. Since it has negative effects in the form of ideas, ethics and values, it establishes a building of knowledge based on a fragile surface and alienation.
The "IT dealers" who seek to profit and benefit, seeking to produce violence, corruption and pornography in its most powerful form. These greedy channels manipulate human instincts and motivations them only in order to increase their profits. The biggest drives for the production of information depends on the deployment of pleasure, fun, pornography, violence, and sex, which leads to the decay and abandonment of moral and humanitarian values.
We live in a real crisis that has hit in the depths of the intellectual and social infrastructure. It undoubtedly threatens our cultural security, which is an integral part of national security. There is a e need to fortify and self-protect against this breakthrough informational.
The Information Society: Reading the Arab reality
It is not a secret that the issue of building the information society comes in the top of the priorities of the communities and governments all over the world in the twenty first century. The biggest proof of that are the two world summits held to discuss the information societies, in two stages: the first was held in Geneva in 2003 and the second was held in Tunis in 2005. The question of building the information society for Arabs is of importance, it is natural to wonder where the Arab countries will be with their information society?
Despite the recent alertness of some Arab countries for the need to enter the world of informational economy and beginning to develop policies to achieve this goal, we find that many of the Arab countries lack the existence of policies and strategies in the field of communication and information exchange. This is due to the absence of national institutions responsible for new technologies in this area, and not enough attention to some Arab countries to establish and develop the technologies. It can also be linked to the presence of other development priorities for economic reasons.
Although the Arab countries make up 5% of the world s space and come in fourth in terms of area and with a population that constitutes 3.5% of the world s population, but most of the Arab countries was surprised like the rest of the developing countries with data on the new global arena. This led many of them to accelerate the adoption of global market trends without the creating of comprehensive policies in the field of communication and information, and without having a methodological and legal plan. At a time when the world is shifting from a manufacturing economy to a economical information society, developing countries, including the Arab world are still seeking access to the industrial economy of a society.
However, we find on the other hand that there are developments that reflect the positive aspects of the possibility of achievements that could contribute to the transfer of the Arab world to the era of the Information Economy. For example, we find that the number of users of the internet, which entered the Arab world in the last decade of the last century, increased to over two million users. The number of Internet users in Arab countries varies for many considerations such as the economic situation and the number of legal residents and facilities. The number of users in early 2000 in Egypt was about 440 thousand users, followed by the United Arab Emirates where it reached 400 thousand users and 300 thousand users in Saudi Arabia, and in Lebanon, it was 230 thousand users.
Some of the Arab countries have made positive steps in order to catch up with the information age. We find that countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, have placed well thought out plans to achieve this goal. In the UAE, specifically the Emirate of Dubai, a Dubai Free Zone was set up for technological companies. It will help new companies doing e-business. The project includes the University of the Internet and E-Business, and a center for software development and the city of science and technology. In Egypt, the construction of a Smart Village in 6th of October City has begun. Include activities to develop programs and training in the field of information technology and communications.
Among the major challenges facing these projects is the investment of time, effort and resources to make the changes, cooperation and coordination on a large scale. This is especially important in government environments and between the government and the private sector. To achieve this shift, commitment is required to implement the changes and coordination between different departments and institutions leadership. The UAE and Egypt have announced their commitment to this transition and placed strategies to achieve this, and both have plans to establish a large base of workers in the field of informatics through programs and specialized colleges.
In spite of the hopes and aspirations and dreams carried by workers in the Arab information technology sector to improve the current situation, the facts seem disappointing, in some cases serious, these models include:
1- First attributes of the information society are high level communication. The growing number of global internet users exceeded all expectations and even numbered 729.2 million. The number of Arabs linked to the Internet is 10.5 million, representing 1.3% of the total users. This percentage is almost four times less than the proportion of Arabs to world s population.
2- The second feature for the information society is how effective it is in enriching the digital content, and one of the important indicators of digital content, is without doubt the number of Arabic websites on the Internet. The approved number of local Arabic sites as of 2001 was nearly 9216 locations, representing 0.026% of the total number of global and local websites of 36 million site, and this percentage is less by 192 times the proportion of Arabs to the world s population. Statistics show there are more than 320 billion unpublished information pages on the Internet, and the share of the Arabs of these pages are almost neglected, to the extent not mention any percentage belong to the Arabs. The content industry has reached -$-255 billion in the United States while in Europe it was -$-186 billion. The size of "distribution of information" in the United States is -$-160 billion while Europe is -$- 165 billion, and information processing is -$-151 billion in the United States and -$-193 billion in Europe, so the sum total of these industries is -$-1005 billion. The share of the Arabs of this size is so small to point out.
3- The third attributes for the information society is the dissemination of knowledge. It is impossible to imagine that this attribute is available in Arab countries, especially as the proportion of illiterate adults are still about 45%. The Arab countries entered the twenty first century burdened by seventy million illiterates, most of them women, and if we calculate the percentage of the number of illiterates to total population, we find that the number is up to 25%, which is higher than the global average rate, even than the average for developing countries. As for the level of -print-ing and publishing, Arabic publications amount less than 0.5% of the global publications, and thus, ten times less than the proportion of Arabs to the world s population. scientific publishing is an important pillar of the dissemination of knowledge, but the share of the Arab scientific publishing is no more than 0.7% of global production.
4- The fourth attribute for the information society is to support the development and scientific research, and here also note that the number of scientists working in research and development in the Arab countries if by percentage to population in the Arab countries, it is 0.4 per thousand of the population, which is less than the world half the average "0.8 thousandths of a population. The equivalent of the Arab countries spend on research and development accounted for 0.1 - 0.2% of GDP, which is seven times less than the global average of 1.4%.
5- The fifth feature of the information society is based on high-tech economic growth, which is the so-called knowledge economy. We will find that the gross national product of all Arab countries is 324.2 billion dollars in 1997, including oil, but if we exclude oil, this output is reduced to about -$- 230 billion, bringing the total output of the total Arab countries, including the oil countries less than the output of a small country such as the Netherlands with a population of 15.6 million people,´-or-a fifth the output of Italy. So the myth of the rich Arabs benefiting from the oil wealth, is just a myth. The reality is that Arabs are generally poor even if we calculated with oil-producing countries and the reason is that today s global economy gives the highest value-added output of advanced technology and undervalues the price of raw material.
Therefore, the Arabs should not rely on natural resources in their country, but to develop their economy, education system, science, innovation and discovery in their country. To create an information society and engage in knowledge-based economy which is something the Arab world will have to do sooner´-or-later, because of the depletion of oil. Knowledge is always growing wealth. As one of the Elders of Japan said, "the source of our wealth is not under our feet, but is above our shoulders.”
Approaches to the development of the Arab information society
In the light of the discussions and proposals presented by the paper, we can show a number of approaches, which can be useful in the development of the information society in the Arab world:
●-;- The need to establish an Arab system of scientific information. The need to stimulate creativity, which represents one of the important pillars of the information society. This would provide the basic requirement for technology transfer and resettlement and supporting the Arab creativity in scientific fields.
●-;- It is necessary to strengthen the information infrastructure to determine its impact on development, and hence the need for libraries and textbooks and other media to support the education sector.
●-;- Arab countries are still deadlocked in the field of information and communication technology manufacturing, so it is essential for governments to encourage technology transfer and investment promotion. This will not be achieved without the establishment of national and regional facilities capable of producing information and communications technology.
●-;- Enabling people to benefit from information and communication technology, through the involvement of individuals in identifying their needs and in programs that meet those needs. Technological development requires that the learning process continues, and that the training is constant for all.
●-;- The need for human capacity to development enough, so they can take full advantage of the benefits offered by information and communication technology. To increase public awareness of its ability to improve people s lives by enabling them to overcome the traditional obstacles like distance and time started.
●-;- The need to develop the Arab community to be able to participate effectively in the global information society, in which all members have equal opportunities for access to information and communication technology.
●-;- It is important to look at the information and communication technology as a tool and not an end in itself. If we take into account the strong relationship between the growth of the information sector, communication sector, economics, socially, culturally and politically then the development and implementation of this plan will target a number of priorities at the national level, including the Arab economic and social development.
●-;- To promote scientific research and development linked to trends by establishing a point of responsibility and supervision for coordination between universities, centers, institutes and scientific research points all from one committee that also links up the public and private institutions as recipients of the other.
●-;- The need to expedite the formation of the rules of the Arab information in all fields and put them within the reach of Arab citizens, which is reflected in the spread of information and investment, which is one of the pillars of the knowledge economy.
●-;- The need to create a knowledge-based observatory, in order to have aggressive monitoring of the state of knowledge and the information of the society in the Arab world.
On the other hand, I see the need to adopt a strategic vision presented by the Second Human Development Report (2003) for the establishment of a knowledge society in the Arab countries, which are organized around five pillars:
1- The freedom of opinion and expression and regulation, and ensure good governance.
2- The full development of a high quality education, with special attention to students and continuous learning for life.
3- Localization of science and building indigenous capability in research and technological development in all community activities.
4- Relentless shift towards a knowledge production pattern in the Arab social and economic infrastructure.
5- The establishment of a knowledge model in Arabic, authentic, open, and informed aims to enrich the cultural diversity and support, and to celebrate openness to other human cultures.
ICTs in the UAE and Kuwait
According to the International Telecommunication -union- (ITU) UAE is now ranked first among Arab countries for the quality of its infrastructure and connectivity, according to the Network Readiness Index 2009–2010. The ICT Development Index (IDI), developed by ITU, also profiled UAE as the highest ranked country in the Arab States region, and ranked it 29 globally. Behind it Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait ranked in 33, 45, 52, 65, respectively. The IDI, contained in the report “Measuring the Information Society 2010”, combines 11 indicators related to ICT access, use and skills into a single composite index. The IDI includes 159 countries which enables -benchmark-ing both on a global and a regional level. The report categorizes each of the 159 countries into one of four groups used to describe the level of ICT within the economy: higher, upper, medium and low” “ICT in the United Arab Emirates, May 2011, Retrieved on 25/09/2016
The UAE (WSIS) National Report, World Summit on the Information Society the country is now ranked fourth in the world after Japan, the Republic of Korea and Hong Kong (China) in terms of fibre-optic penetration, with 30.8 per cent of households and businesses connected to fibre-optic networks. Etisalat plans to spend USD 1.36 billion to build a nationwide network by the end of 2011. “ICT in the United Arab Emirates, May 2011, Retrieved on 25/09/2016
Promoting competition in the telecommunication sector has also benefited the development of ICT infrastructure. Liberalization began in 2007 with the licensing of a second mobile operator Du, and under TRA supervision, there are ambitious plans for network sharing to benefit consumers. Sharing networks between Etisalat and Du means consumers can choose their service provider for voice, Internet and television. Such competition not only encourages development of the ICT industry, but also acts as a stimulus for overall economic development of the country” “ICT in the United Arab Emirates, May 2011, Retrieved on 25/09/2016
In February 2010, TRA licensed satellite services to Yahsat to install, operate and manage satellite and ground networks in the country. And in July 2010, TRA granted Star Satellite Communications Company (Star) a ten-year satellite and broadcasting service licence. These developments were aimed at establishing UAE as a premier telecommunications hub by offering worldclass satellite services. To further benefit consumers and improve infrastructure, a switchover to digital-only television is planned for December 2013. TRA has made UAE one of the first countries in the Middle East to plan a switchover, which will give citizens better picture and sound quality, as well as access to multimedia transmissions.
“ICT in the United Arab Emirates, May 2011, Retrieved on 25/09/2016
A key element in the UAE government strategy has been to get the legal framework right. The UAE telecommunication market has grown from USD 8.2 billion in 2005 to USD 13.6 billion in 2011, achieving a 20 per cent rate of annual growth. Much of this has been due to the new legal framework with TRA issuing several regulations to foster advancements in the ICT sector. An e-commerce law was introduced in 2006 (Federal Law No. 1 pertaining to Electronic Commerce and Transactions) under which TRA can license and oversee the activities of e-commerce providers. Etisalat, the national telecommunication provider, has been licensed as a Certification Service Provider under the law. To further drive e-commerce, TRA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Dubai eGovernment to act as partners on the Trustee Initiative. The award of the Trustee Seal to a company trading online protects citizens’ rights and encourages a better quality of service by guaranteeing that online businesses with such a mark will follow a strict code of conduct in their e-commerce dealings.
As well as creating the legal framework for ICT development to prosper, UAE has set up funding programmes to stimulate industry growth. The ICT Fund is the first of its kind in the Middle East and is designed to support innovative research and development projects and to provide education and training in the field. In terms of research and development, the fund will support start-ups and nurture business incubators as well as supporting the creation of high-quality research and development institutions. For education, the fund will make available scholarships for those keen to work in the ICT sector and it will also provide support to the establishment of institutions offering ICT-related courses.
There is also the Sheikh Khalifa Fund that has the specific goal of supporting small and medium-sized businesses. The fund focuses on the training of UAE nationals so that they can manage projects independently as part of a drive to transform Abu Dhabi into an international investment hub. “ICT in the United Arab Emirates, May 2011, Retrieved on 25/09/2016
Connecting with citizens
Perhaps most notable in reviewing the UAE’s progress on WSIS Action Line 1, are the innovations to enhance interaction with citizens through ICT services. The My Government Initiative, launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice- President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, is an integrated portal connecting people -dir-ectly with five federal entities.
The initiative aims to develop services that would ensure improvement in the federal government’s operational and service efficiency — one of the main pillars of the UAE Government Strategy 2011–2013. It also intends to improve the quality of life for UAE nationals, as well as for expatriates, in line with the country’s Vision 2021. Sheikh Mohammed launched the portal by sending an e-mail message of his appreciation to five federal entities for taking the lead in the development of government services.
In the first phase, citizens can interact with the Ministry of Labour, the Electricity and Water Authority, the Sheikh Zayed Housing Program, the National Transport Authority and the Ministry of the Interior. The aim is to improve the services being delivered by these authorities allowing citizens to give feedback to the service providers and thereby enhancing their own quality of life.
Public employees are also benefitting from the government’s push to use ICT for development. The Sheikh Kalifa Government Program, which was introduced in 2006, encourages government authorities to promote a culture of creativity, loyalty and excellence among public employees. The Excellence Program completed its first phase in October 2010 by recognizing and awarding those models which had demonstrated how to achieve a sustainable information society within the federal government.
A further example of connecting citizens has been an e-books store and e-library scheme, which was launched in December 2010 by Etisalat and China’s Huawei Technologies. The pilot project has been launched at the Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research and allows students and faculty members to access hundreds of written and audio books online free-of-charge. In addition, through their smartphones and personal computers, students can access lecture notes and laboratory notes. Etisalat plans to extend the scheme to other universities in UAE, and eventually to publishing houses within and outside the country, so that students and consumers can access a wide spectrum of online content.
“Our initiatives along WSIS Action Lines have seen considerable progress highlighting our commitment. Industry leaders have been encouraged to work with the government to create an effective public-private partnership with the ultimate goal of achieving sustainable development. This encourages innovation among small and medium businesses and advances research and development activities,” comments Mr Nasser Al Ghanim. “ICT in the United Arab Emirates, May 2011, Retrieved on 25/09/2016
"In analyzing the interaction between independent variables (gender and ICT training) on dependent variables (teachers’ attitudes and ICT use), the findings suggested that training played an important role in affecting the male teachers’ attitudes toward ICT, but had even a greater effect on female teachers’ ICT use” (Alrasheedi 2009: pp.3-4).
“The computer and Internet have become an integral part of the educational systems not only in developed countries such as the United State (Lockard, Abrams, & Many, 1997), where government and community support for expenditures on ICT in schools has been great compared to other expenditures in education (Lemke, 1999), butalso in developing countries such as
Kuwait (Almahboub, 2000)” (Alrasheedi 2009: p.11).
- “In this technology-oriented information age, there is a growing need to reform the educational system to accommodate the new technological tools (Pelgrum, 2001). Governments in developing countries, such as Kuwait, have responded to the challenge by initiating national programs to integrate ICT into education.” (Alrasheedi 2009: p.11).
“Since the mid-1990s the Kuwait government has launched a project to put information and communication technologies in all its secondary schools (Al-Furaih, Al-Sadoun, & Ebeid, 1997). Although computers and Internet access in schools have become a priority in Kuwait’s development plan, the existing technologies have been utilized mostly for administrative purposes” (Alrasheedi 2009: p.12).
“In 2002, the Ministry of Education (MOE) initiated a large reform training project to apply the International Computer Driving License (ICDL) for all Kuwait in-service teachers expected to undertake the course by the end 2007/2008…ICDL focused on improving teachers’ word processing, database, spreadsheet, and Internet surfing skills.” (Alrasheedi 2009: pp.13-14).
As an important teaching and learning tool, classroom use of ICT has created both opportunities and challenges. Various studies have shown that technology improves teaching and learning (Maddux, Johnson, & Willis, 2001-;- Roblyer & Edwards, 2000-;- Sharp, 2005-;- Trucano, 2005) (Alrasheedi 2009: p.14).
“The rapid growth of ICT has had a profound impact on many levels of Kuwait society, such as business, news organizations, and government institutions. Online
banking and commercial transactions have become common practices. Reading online newspapers and magazines and, watching online TV programs, as well using the Internet for communication have started to become routine.” (Alrasheedi 2009: p.17).
“In its survey covering 18 countries in the Middle East and Africa—excluding Somalia, Mauritania, Djibouti and Comoros—Madar Reseach Group (2005) conducted a study on the Internet use broken down by countries. The study findings reported that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had the highest Internet penetration rate with 27.69 % of the population having access to the Internet. The second highest was Bahrain with 22.06 % penetration rate. The Internet penetration rate of both countries was expected to increase substantially in the coming years with the predicted of 38 % growth for the UAE and 32 % growth for Bahrain. Currently, the countries with the largest Internet community among all Arab countries include Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, and the United Arab Emirates (Madar Research Group, 2005). By the end of 2005, Egypt with 6.5 million Internet users became the country with the largest Internet community, followed by Saudi Arabia with 4.48 million users, Algeria with 2.4 million users, and the UAE with 900,000 users respectively.”(Alrasheedi 2009: p.35).
“The Internet proliferation in Kuwait, however, still lags behind that in developing countries and even that in the neighboring countries such as the U.A.E., Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. Some factors contributing to this unusual phenomenon included government control, cultural and religious values, and insufficient infrastructure” (Alrasheedi 2009: p.38).
ICT and Social Change
“As the world changes with the advance of information and communication technological innovation, this type of education is no longer adequate to keep up with the information revolution. Hence, countries around the globe in both developed and developing countries alike are compelled to adjust their educational systems to meet the demands of the information age. Kuwait is one of them: It has been actively reforming its educational system by making ICT a very important component in the country’s development plan (Wheeler, 1998-;- Kuwait Culture, 2006). (Alrasheedi 2009: p.41).
“In an ICT-rich classroom environment, teachers are required to adjust their method of teaching in ways that promote students’ learning. For ICT to have a strong effect, the structure of teaching needs to change from teacher-centered to student centered, from traditional chalk and board to multimedia engagement, in which students become active participants in the process of learning (Gura & Percy, 2005).” (Alrasheedi 2009: p.43).
“However, the difference in gender attitudes toward technology is not due to their biological construct but rather to their cultural and social construct. The attitude differences could be traced back to the placement and use of computers in education, where they were mainly used in research and administrative offices by white males (Linn,1999). The differences may also have resulted from the dominant culture of males in technological fields-;- males use computer equipment more than females. (Hill, Loch, Straub, & Elsheshai, 1998). In addition, the differences may be the -dir-ect impact of the technological environment at home. Many males and females perceived their homes as being more technological and rated both parents’ occupations as more technical (Bame etal., 1993)” (Alrasheedi 2009: p 61).
“Recent studies, however, show that gender attitudes toward computers are no longer significantly different. Female participants of a focus group conducted by the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation claimed that they like computers—they just use them differently than males (Bain & Rice, 2006). As gender has an effect on attitudes, perceptions, and use of technology, it is important to understand gender differences in this regard.” (Alrasheedi 2009: p 62).
“The increasing significance of ICT in educational programs partly results from the fact that the use of ICT for instruction is: (a) promoting more individualized learning, (b) giving learners with a flexible time (day, night, weekend) and place (home´-or-class) for their learning, (c) allowing interactivity-;- (d) facilitating understanding of abstract information by using multiple features such as graphics, voice, and video, (e) giving immediate feedback, and (f) giving an users opportunity for more learning and practice until they get correct answers (Richards, 2005).” (Alrasheedi 2009: p 69).
“Confirming the above statements, Waxman and Padró-;-n (2002), who studied the impact of instructional technology on students at risk of failure, found that it benefited them in the following ways: (a) it was motivational-;- (b) it was non-judgmental-;- (c) it could individualize learning and tailor the instructional sequence to meet students needs and rate of learning-;- (d) it allowed for more autonomy-;- (e) it could give prompt feedback-;-(f) it provided the students with a sense of personal responsibility and control-;- (g) it could be less intimidating to students-;- (h) it gave students a rich linguistic environment-;- (i) it diminished the authoritarian role of the teacher-;- and (j) it decreased situations where students could be embarrassed in class for not knowing answers.” (Alrasheedi 2009: pp. 69-70).
We conclude from the previous study, that there are radical changes taking place in the global structure of the society, its effects are reflected on the Arab social structure. These transformations are embodied in the formation of a global information society-;- the information in this community is a powerful tool to play a key role in pushing the overall wheel of development.
The paper was approached from basic two assumptions, both were realized by researcher. We can say that the Arab social structure has played a pivotal role in shaping the knowledge and information in the Arab community on one side, and that knowledge greatly influenced the social and cultural structure of Arab society. Which in turn, contributed to the creation new values. The researcher looked in depth at the widespread relationship with communication and information technology.
The paper has extensively stopped at the most prominent effects of the widespread use of information technology, in terms of the transition to the knowledge economy, and widespread e-commerce and how that was accompanied by the growth of cultural information and e-trade. The paper also changes a set of industry, agriculture, services and unemployment concepts, and a reflection of all these influences in deepening the unity of the digital divide between the Arab countries and the developed world. In addition to a thorough review of the features of the information society by reading data from the Arab reality, there was also the use of some of the statistics from some international and local reports, and some information from previous studies.
The aim of this review, is the accurate diagnosis of the situation and the current state of the knowledge of Arab society, and where the society as a whole stands right now. It was found through several quantitative indicators reviewed by the researcher that there is a knowledge gap between the Arab countries and themselves as well as a gap with the developed world. The paper has shown that Globalizing played a major role in deepening these gaps. The paper did not stop at this point, but I tried to provide practical approaches-;- aims to empower the Arab society in order to bridge these gaps in knowledge, and overcome the crises of informatics and technology.
To sum it up, increasing our ability to communicate and interact in the age of globalization and the information society and the ability to reap the benefits of the information revolution, requires us to participation in the production and dissemination of knowledge. When this goal is achieved, we will advance our Arab society through our own means.
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