By definition, the digital age, also known as the information age, computer age, or the new media age, is the current time period that started in the 1970s with the introduction of the personal computer, followed by the introduction of other technology that give people the ability to transfer and access information freely and quickly. The digital age was characterized by an evolution from the Industrial Revolution’s traditional industry, to an economy that relied on the Digital Revolution’s information and communication technology. Photos turned into bits, phonebooks turned into online directories, printed newspapers turned into websites, and physical encyclopedias turned into Wikipedia. Even regular daily-used objects like watches, trolleys, fridges, and toothbrushes turned into data-rich smart devices.
The digital age has not only digitized tangible products, but has also transformed the way people do business today. Retail, manufacturing, and distribution aren’t at the forefront anymore now that businesses have become digitized in the sense that they depend on technologies to improve and enable them to become more strategic and competitive in the marketplace. These technologies include digital tools, such as the internet, 5G, email, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and automation. More specifically, businesses depend on tools such as the Robotic Automation Process, which is used to speed up manual, repetitive actions, as well as eliminate human error.
Another digital tool is the Advanced Analytics, which is used to give real-time insights into internal and market predictions. All in all, businesses reshaped themselves to create, curate, sustain, and overall optimize digital experiences to stand-out in the market and to add value in the digital age. When it comes to normal members of societies, more often than not, they need to independently seek to be lifelong learners to gain the skills of using digital tools, in order to keep up with the ever-growing digital societies that they live in. In other words, digital has become accepted as the mainstream way of life, as it has fully immersed into most current societies.
Because of all these changes in the way that people produce and consume products, the digital age has also significantly reshaped architecture, as well as diversified architects’ roles and tasks. Architects are now pushed to adopt not only design skills, but also technical skills. They are expected to use and interpret digital technologies and tools better than anyone else, according to Theorist Mario Carpo, who works on writing the history of architecture’s recent past in the contemporary technological revolution. He speaks about how architects have usually been resistant and slow to change in previous eras, such as the industrial, but when the digital age came about, they were the first to create their industry’s digital turn, in which they quickly anticipated, pioneered, innovated, developed, experimented with, and adapted to new computer-aided design and fabrication techniques. They were the first to advance the ideas of digital mass customization, non-standard seriality, variability of market prices, and the production of non-standard items in the early 1990s. All of these historical developments are what led to many architectural structures, such as the FOA Yokohama terminal, to be considered some of the most meaningful architectural achievements of the digital age. Overall, Carpo also says that the digital turn and technologies are in a continuous process of change, but he believes that architects are still leading the way when it comes to the digital age, just as they did two decades ago.