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WEEK 2 – KM 630. Introduction to the Nature of Information/Knowledge; Information and Knowledge Users/Organizations and their Information Seeking Behaviors. Instructor Lynn Lampert – CSUN KM Program. Students Learning Outcomes for Week 2. Students will:

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WEEK 2 – KM 630

Introduction to the Nature of Information/Knowledge; Information and Knowledge Users/Organizations andtheir Information Seeking Behaviors

Instructor Lynn Lampert – CSUN KM Program

students learning outcomes for week 2
Students Learning Outcomes for Week 2

Students will:

1) Analyze the nature and definitions of information and knowledge.2) Discuss the literature of user education and the information seeking process in order to learn about the information seeking behavior of users and its relationship to KM.3) Identify terms frequently used in information seeking behavior research.4) Acquire an understanding about the importance of user education programs in various information settings: corporations, education, libraries, museums etc.5) Students will discuss what instruction and training means in a knowledge management context.

schedule outline for class
Schedule/Outline for Class
  • 6:00-6:30 – Discussion of Information as Thing/ vs. Knowlegde – Buckland article -/ Lecture
  • In-class exercise (Handout)6:30 – 7:15 Problem Solving and Information Usage
schedule outline for class1
Schedule/Outline for Class
  • 7:15-7:35 Break #1
  • 7:35-8:20 – What can information seeking behavior tell us about KM practices? – Looking at Morrison'“Newcomer Information Seeking: Exploring Types, Modes, Sources and Outcomes”
schedule outline for class2
Schedule/Outline for Class
  • 8:20-8:40 – Break #2 –
  • 8:40- 9:20 – Information Seeking Behavior and Kuhlthau’s TheoriesKuhlthau, C. (1991). Inside the search process: Information seeking from the user's perspective. Journal of the American Society for Information Science 42, 361-371.

Kuhlthau, C. (1999).“The Role of Experience in the Information Search Process of an Early Career Information Worker: Perceptions of Uncertainty, Complexity, Construction and Sources” Journal of the American Society for Information Science 50(5), 399-412.

9:20-9:40 – Discussion to reactions to:Mueller, B., Sorini,G., & Grossman, E. “Information Seeking Behavior of Engineers in the Corporate Environment: Implications for Information Delivery
  • 9:40 – 10:00pm Wrap-up/ Look to Week 3
definitions theories
Definitions & Theories

What is information?

• Information as thing(Buckland)

• The social life of information(Brown and Duguid) • Information and sensemaking(Devin)

some of the definitions out there
Some of the Definitions Out There

So then, where to start?

  • Information is derived from Latin informare which means “give form to”
  • It connotes an imposition of structure upon some indeterminate mass
  • During the transition to modernity, the term changed into information with new meaning

To receive sense impressions from the world (in-forming) ~then~

To communicate something to someone

  • Capurro, R. and Hjorland B. (2004). The concept of information.

So what is information?




The portion of the environment perceived or generated and used as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or calculation

A pattern of organization of matter and energy with no inherent meaning that can be given meaning by us

Information given meaning and integrated with other contents of understanding

Bates, M.J. (2005). Information and knowledge: an evolutionary framework for information science. Information Research, 10(4).


Information as thing

Buckland is thinking about the fundamental nature of information and claims that it has been ambiguous

He attempts to clarify the concept, arguing that it can be seen as “process,”“knowledge,” and “thing”

The three meanings can then be used to describe the domain of Information Science & KM

~In what sense can we consider information a thing?

Why is this a useful approach for information scientists? Is it useful for Knowledge Managers?

~What is the role of the “situation” in the definition of information?


Assumes that information includes becoming informed, with the reduction of ignorance and of uncertainty

Buckland looks at the ways in which the term is used in the field

As process:

As knowledge

When we are informed what we know is changed

It is the act of informing...; communication of the knowledge or “news” of some fact or occurrence

That which is perceived in “information-as-process;” the “knowledge communicated concerning some fact, subject or event”


As thing

This has been controversial

Information has no materiality or energy

It is all contained in the context of communication

How does Buckland respond to these criticisms?

Is also used attributively for objects, such as data and documents, referred to as “information” because they are regarded as being informative; as “having the quality of imparting knowledge or communicating information”


Information as knowledge vs. as thing

This is a distinction between intangible and tangible

The thing is a tangible representation of the intangible

Sign, data, signal, text, film

Information as thing is a representation of knowledge

It can be touched and measured

It is the basic stuff of information science

Therefore there can be no such thing as a “knowledge-based” expert system or a “knowledge access” system, only systems based on physical representations of knowledge


What is informative?

Information as evidence

It denotes something related to understanding

If found and correctly understood, it could change one’s knowledge or beliefs concerning some matter

It is passive awaiting our action



Info-things that have been stored and processed


Documents and other text bearing objects


Types of info-things


Collections of objects can be informative


Represented by objects (as evidence) associated with the event

Representations of the event itself

Creations and recreations of the event

What is not information?

What is not informative?


Info-things as representations:

Every representation can be expected to be more or less incomplete in some regard

Something of the original is always lost

There is always some distortion, even if only through incompleteness

Representations are made for convenience, which means easier to store, to understand, and/or to search.

Because of the quest for convenience, representations are normally a shift from event or object to text, from one text to another text, or from objects and texts to data


Info-things as representations

Additional details related to the object but not evident from it might be added to the representation, either to inform or to misinform

Representation can continue indefinitely

There can be representations of representations of representations

For practical reasons representations are commonly briefer or smaller than whatever is being represented

They concentrate on the features expected to be most significant

A summary is an incomplete description


The social life of information

Brown and Duguid discuss the importance of understanding information in its contexts

Not to do so lead to tunnel vision and narrow conceptions of design which in turn leads to technologies that are not as useful or usable as they should be

~What does it mean to say that information has a “social life?”

What components (resources) of this social life make a difference for information flow?


How can information have a social life?

Warnings against “Tunnel design”

This is a consequence of ignoring these factors surrounding information

It leads to technologies and strategies that “bite back”

These are the unintended consequences of tunnel design

Information is always embedded in a context

It has a history, background, involves resources, people’s values and interests

The social life of information is what provides it with its meaning, value, and utility


Information as sensemaking

Dervin is discussing the meaning of the concept of “information design” as it is used to describe an emerging discipline

She questions the basic metaphor used to anchor the concept of information and provides a version of the changes in the meanings of the concept over time

She offers the sensemaking metaphor as a foundation for information design


An alternative view

Information has never been natural

It has always been designed

It is not a thing found in nature

It has no necessary correspondence to the external world

It can be data, knowledge or fact, song, image, story, or metaphor

It must be communicated to exist

It exists in the communication and the codification

definitions from donald o case 2002
Definitions from Donald O.Case (2002)
  • Information – can be any difference you perceive, in your environment or within yourself. It is any aspect that you notice in the pattern of reality.
  • Information need - is a recognition that your knowledge is inadequate to satisfy a goal that you have.
  • Information seeking – is a conscious effort to acquire information in response to a need or a gap in your knowledge.
  • Information behavior - encompasses information seeking as well as the totality of other unintentional or passive behaviors (such as glimpsing or encountering information), as well as purposive behaviors that do not involve seeking, such as actively avoiding information.

Case, D. O. (2002). Looking for information: A survey of research on information seeking, needs, and behavior. San Diego: Academic Press.