Like so many of us, I have a personal library. One book that I felt a consequential boost and desire to once again light upon was Peter F. Drucker’s The New Realities—In Government and Politics/In Economics and Business/ In Society and World View. After all it is the beginning of a new year. The book was a great read when I bought it in the early ’90’s and it has been an even more intriguing read now.
The book has a plethora of great information. Information. That is it, information. It is the conclusion of the book that is most appealing, it is about the information age. It is nearly twenty years since Drucker wrote his book, and it amazing how accurate and profound his thoughts on information truly reveal.
When Thomas Newcomen put to use the first steam engine in an English coal mine, the model of technology was mechanical. Mechanical technology came to an end with the first computer in 1946, the ENIAC. Information became the organizing principle for work, all brought about by the computer. What is important to note is that information is a basic principle of a biological process instead of a mechanical process.
Information itself is both analytical and conceptual. What is especially interesting to me is that information is the organizing principle of biology. Modern biology teaches us that genetic code is in DNA, deoxyribonucleic acid. That is programmed information, where the mystery of life is contained. Biological process is not mechanical. It is in a mechanical process where the whole is equal to the sum of its parts and is therefore understood by way of analysis. Biological processes are a collection of “wholes,” and are thus different from the sum of their parts. So here is the key: information is indeed conceptual, but meaning is not…it is perception.
Since the early years of the twentieth century emphasis has been on the conceptual. With the advent of the computer, we began and currently will be increasingly juggling the conceptual and the perceptual. Virtually all fields of endeavor; healthcare, ecology, economics, business, sociology, and engineering will require us to conceptualize and to use perception.