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Publishing, Culture and Society G045 Information Science, Information Society and Information Economics. Andy Dawson Department of Information Studies, UCL. What we’re going to be looking at (in brief!) . Far too much  What is Information Science? What is Information?

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Publishing, Culture and Society G045Information Science, Information Society and Information Economics

Andy Dawson

Department of Information Studies, UCL

Andy Dawson


What we re going to be looking at in brief
What we’re going to be looking at (in brief!)

  • Far too much 

  • What is Information Science?

  • What is Information?

  • What is Information Society?

  • What is Information Economy?

  • … and what does that mean for us?


What is information science
What is Information Science?

  • Views differ 

  • About the use of knowledge in practice

  • About interactions between people/ organisations and information systems

  • About a systemic view

  • About the relation between people and technology


A working definition
A working definition

  • “The study of information and the manner in which it is communicated between humans within the context of the information phenomenon” (Wikiversity)

  • A multidisciplinary science studying all aspects of information processing systems (both natural and artificial)

  • Understanding people and technology to make them work better together!


Where did information science come from
Where did Information Science come from?

  • Roots arguably in “institutionalisation of science” in 18thC

  • Influenced by development of scientific literature and documentalism in 19thC

  • 20thC real development of “modern” IS

  • Stemming from documentalist roots & organisation of scholarly literature


Paul otlet henri la fontaine the true grandfathers of is
Paul Otlet & Henri La Fontaine – The true Grandfathers of IS?


Otlet la fontaine s contributions
Otlet & La Fontaine’s contributions

  • The Institute Internationale de Bibliographie

  • Universal Decimal Classification

  • The Repertoire Bibliographique Universel and the Mundaneum – the true precursor to the WWW?


Transition to today s is
Transition to today’s IS

  • Early 20thC institutes and awareness

    • LA, Aslib, ADI/ASIST, Farradane

  • The arrival of computing

  • Development of the IIS

  • Information retrieval and information seeking

  • Brookes and the cognitive approach


But what is information
But what is “Information”?

  • An everyday thing, yet hard to define!

  • First need to think about it a little in terms of philosophy –

    • Nature of knowledge

    • Representation

  • Need for a philosophical worldview (context)

  • …hopefully without becoming too philosophical!


Is the cow there what is a cow how do we know it s real
Is the cow there, what is a cow, how do we know it’s real….

  • Metaphysical concerns - Nature and structure of existence and being, specifically, questions of what kind of things exist

  • Ontological concerns - how the contents of the conceptualised world are defined, ordered and classified

  • Epistemological concerns - The “study of knowledge” (“Justified, true belief”), how we get our beliefs and how we “know” they are true

    • Realist metaphysics vs Idealism/ideology


Formal models of information
Formal models of Information real….

  • Information Theory (Shannon & Weaver)

  • Eliot’s Pyramid (Eliot: Checkland & Howell, Orna)

  • Three Worlds (Popper)

  • Cognitive model (after Brookes)


Information theory
Information Theory real….

  • Introduced by electrical engineers Shannon and Weaver in 1949

  • Concerned with properties of communication systems

  • Addressing concepts of message generation and transmission




Information theory3
Information Theory real….

  • Intended for telecomms…and superficially process oriented

  • BUT far wider implications.

  • Application of method has introduced information concepts into core science

    • Stonier’s arguments that “Information is a basic property of the universe” – Genomics?


Eliot s pyramid
Eliot’s Pyramid real….

  • Named after T.S.Eliot’s lines from “Choruses from the rock”:

    Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge

    Where is the knowledge we have lost in information

  • Further developed by Checkland and Holwell, inter alia



Eliot s pyramid2
Eliot’s Pyramid real….

  • “It’s raining!”

    • Simple observation or fact = data

  • The barometer reading fell and it started raining

    • Simple relationship between two facts, adding context = information

  • If humidity is high and both temperature and air pressure drop then the atmosphere is unable to hold moisture and it rains

    • Complex relationships, cause and effect, prediction = knowledge


Eliot s pyramid3
Eliot’s Pyramid real….

More human judgement, more effort, greater expense

Less context, less meaning



Eliot s pyramid orna s view
Eliot’s Pyramid – Orna’s view real….

  • Knowledge as a form of Information which can “exist” only with an individual’s mind

  • To be communicable it must be made objective and recordable

  • This “Objectivised” form is termed information


Orna s view
Orna’s view real….

  • “Knowledge and information are separate but interacting entities; we transform one into another constantly ... the transformation of information into knowledge and knowledge into information, forms the basis for all human learning and communication”


Popper s three worlds
Popper’s Three Worlds real….

  • Karl Popper – famous philosopher of science

  • theory of growth of scientific knowledge based on falsification of hypotheses and theories, and hence development of better versions, rather than on any means of justifying knowledge

  • developed an epistemology based on the idea of three 'worlds'.


Popper s three worlds1
Popper’s Three Worlds real….

  • World 1 is the material world of physical objects: people, books, computers and so on

  • World 2 is the interior mental world of thinking beings, the subjective realm of thoughts, emotions and individual personality.

  • World 3 is the world of objective, communicable knowledge; the contents, rather than the physical instantiation of books, databases, letters, libraries and other information packages.


Popper s three worlds example
Popper’s Three Worlds example real….

  • Imagine an “Information package” – e.g. a journal article.

  • The World 1 object, the physical journal issue, is read by someone.

  • Its information content, World 3, is available to them, but only through a series of World 2 events - the internal understanding of the content, and its integration with the existing knowledge of the reader


Popper s three worlds example1
Popper’s Three Worlds example real….

  • Two different readers taking it in turn to read the same article, and hence the same World 1 and World 3 entities, will have quite different - and subjective and private - World 2 experiences.

  • If the article is read in the form of an e-journal on a screen, the World 1 objects will be quite different, but the World 3 content will remain the same.

  • The Worlds interact with one another, with World 2 central to the interactions.


Popper s three worlds2
Popper’s Three Worlds real….

  • This is an intuitively appealing model

  • World 3 should be seen not just as shorthand for “the content of information packages” but as “objective, communicable knowledge” which may exist without a 'knowing subject‘ – it is autonomous

  • Interestingly Popper also liked the idea of “Evolutionary Epistemology”, in which human evolution proceeds “exosomatically”.


Cognitive model
Cognitive model real….

  • Brookes proposed that these ideas could serve as a philosophical basis for Information Science

  • His writings are generally regarded as the foundation of the “Cognitive” approach to Information Science.


Cognitive model1
Cognitive model real….

  • Knowledge is something intrinsic to, and only existing within, the human mind and cognition

  • Knowledge, being subjective, cannot be directly transferred or communicated from one person to another

  • Knowledge must thus be converted into information to be transferred or communicated.


Cognitive model2
Cognitive model real….

  • Information is regarded as the objective - and therefore communicable and recordable - form of knowledge.

  • Information is thus the bridge between the subjective knowledge in people's heads.


In conclusion
In conclusion real….

  • Information models are important, and varied, ways of looking at the world

  • They are of more than just academic interest - the way we understand information problems in the workplace (our `worldview’) will influence what we do to address those problems.


What then is information society
What then is Information Society ? real….

  • A post-industrial development for a post--modern view?

    • economic models

    • technological models

    • sociological models

      • fordism and social dislocation

    • historical models

      • information has history

        • epistemology?


Technological determinism v utopianism
Technological Determinism v Utopianism real….

  • Technological Determinism - social change driven by tech development

  • Utopianism - progress and improvement towards ultimate goal of ideal society

  • Change is happening

    • but is it for the better? exploitation, exclusion, authoritarianism


Information society issues
Information Society issues real….

  • Social capital

    • Range of "Information Workers"

    • Skills for the information society

  • "Coherent" information

    • Trust, Retrievability

  • Connectivity

    • Distributed services, E-commerce

      • Disconnection of product/service from place


Information society issues1
Information Society issues real….

  • Social exclusion

  • Information literacy

  • Virtual communities and simulation

  • Information overload

    • not new - just relative


Information society issues2
Information Society issues real….

  • Control and intervention

    • Of government into society

    • of the individual into the information world

      • "Privatisation" - free vs paid

      • Cloud computing issues

  • Quality of content to fulfil lives/needs


Information economy
Information Economy real….

  • Machlup

  • Porat

  • Information as a commodity

  • Information property, capital, labour

  • Intellectual property, rights and exploitation

  • Trad publishing vs open access

  • cost, price and value


Knowledge based economy replaces capitalism
Knowledge-based economy replaces capitalism? real….

  • Neo-marxists say no

    • Key market features have intensified, - private ownership of information

    • Enclosures: common methods of farming superseded by "agriculture of the market"

  • Global comms, global markets

  • Significance of information and knowledge work

    • Illusory?


Information policy
Information Policy real….

  • Regulation vs market forces

  • Freedom of information vs control

  • Surveillance society and authoritarianism

    • reduces us to "simulations" - one-dimensional types (consumers, insurance risks, junk mail targets)

  • Lifelong learning

  • Utopian progression -> "Culture" (Banks) ?


That s it for today
That’s it for today! real….

  • Questions?


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