Power lines by a Viking period runestone - representatives of two vital steps in human development.
One of the most common ways to measure human progress is to look at the amount of information that is produced, transmitted and consumed in our society. Other measurements include how much energy we can harness, or our economic development and the degree of specialization and division of labour.
According to the info-centric theory of development, our society has undergone a number of revolutions which all have drastically increased the amount of information, or data, that forms the basis of human communication and culture.
The first revolution can be considered to be the development of language some 100 000 years ago. This revolution permitted detailed descriptions, instructions and strategies to be communicated, which led to more effective cooperation in hunting and that Mankind made a giant leap up the food chain. It also allowed abstraction and storytelling, which form the basis of human culture of today.
The next revolution was the development of writing, and the transition from an oral to a text-based society. This happened around 5000 years ago and allowed for information to be stored and transmitted across vast distances (in time and space) in original form. It was a prerequisite for great states such as the Egyptian, Chinese or Mesopotamian ones to be able to form (one could by the way argue that the gradual development of art, culminating in magnificent cave paintings 30 000 years ago, constituted a step in-between these two revolutions) .
The next revolution was the invention of the printing press. This democratized and spread information and made political and scientific change possible.
Three recent steps in this ever-escalating increase in information usage come from the computer revolution, the construction of the Internet and the collection of mass data. These three have sped up the process significantly.
That the time between these steps and revolutions has decreased so drastically is considered to signify that the complexity and technology of our societies is increasing exponentially.