Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/105705
Title:
THE CONCEPT OF INFORMATION
Author:
Capurro, Rafael; Hjørland, Birger
Editors:
Cronin, Blaise
Citation:
THE CONCEPT OF INFORMATION 2003, 37(Chapter 8):343-411 Annual Review of Information Science and Technology
Publisher:
Information Today
Journal:
Annual Review of Information Science and Technology
Issue Date:
2003
URI:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/105705
Submitted date:
2008-02-22
Abstract:
The concept of information as we use it in everyday English in the sense knowledge communicated plays a central role in today's society. The concept became particularly predominant since end of World War II with the widespread use of computer networks. The rise of information science in the middle fifties is a testimony of this. For a science like information science (IS) it is of course important how its fundamental terms are defined, and in IS as in other fields the problem of how to define information is often raised. This review is an attempt to overview the present status of the information concept in IS with a view also to interdisciplinary trends. In scientific discourses theoretical concepts are not true or false elements or pictures of some part of reality, but are constructions designed to do a job the best possible way. Different conceptions of fundamental terms like information are thus more or less fruitful depending on what theories (and in the end what practical actions) they are expected to support. In Chapter 1, we discuss the problems of defining terms in the light of the philosophy of science. The history of a word tells us mostly only anecdotes that are peripheral to the concept itself. But in our case the use of the word information points to a specific perspective under which the concept of knowledge communication was defined and designated. We explore this history in Chapter 2 and we believe that our results may help to better understand the complexity of this concept also with regard to its scientific definitions. The discussions about the information concept in other disciplines are also very important for Information Science because many theories and approaches in Information Science have their origins in other disciplines. This is surveyed in Chapter 3. The epistemological concept of information has lead also to a new perspective of non-human information processes particularly in physics and biology. And vice versa: processes of selection and interpretation may be considered when related to psychic and social phenomena with regard to objective parameters, leaving aside the semantic dimension or, more precisely, considering objective or situational parameters of interpretation. This can be illustrated also in physical terms with regard to release mechanisms as we suggest at the end of Chapter 3. Our overview of the concept of information in the natural sciences as well as in the humanities and social sciences does not aim at exploring different theories in depth. In most cases we can only refer to fragments of theories that the user may interpret within her own background or follow the hints of the bibliography. Readers mostly interested in information science may get more satisfied with Chapter 4 where we bring a more detailed explanation of diverse views and theories of information within our field, supplementing the ARIST article by Cornelius (2001). We show that the introduction of the concept of information about 1950 to what was formerly special librarianship and documentation in itself has had serious consequences for the kind of knowledge and theories developed in our field. The important question is not only what meaning we give to the term in Information Science, but also how it relates to other basic terms such as documents, texts and knowledge.
Type:
Journal (Paginated)
Language:
en
Keywords:
Information Science

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.contributor.authorCapurro, Rafaelen_US
dc.contributor.authorHjørland, Birgeren_US
dc.contributor.editorCronin, Blaiseen_US
dc.date.accessioned2008-02-22T00:00:01Z-
dc.date.available2010-06-18T23:32:42Z-
dc.date.issued2003en_US
dc.date.submitted2008-02-22en_US
dc.identifier.citationTHE CONCEPT OF INFORMATION 2003, 37(Chapter 8):343-411 Annual Review of Information Science and Technologyen_US
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10150/105705-
dc.description.abstractThe concept of information as we use it in everyday English in the sense knowledge communicated plays a central role in today's society. The concept became particularly predominant since end of World War II with the widespread use of computer networks. The rise of information science in the middle fifties is a testimony of this. For a science like information science (IS) it is of course important how its fundamental terms are defined, and in IS as in other fields the problem of how to define information is often raised. This review is an attempt to overview the present status of the information concept in IS with a view also to interdisciplinary trends. In scientific discourses theoretical concepts are not true or false elements or pictures of some part of reality, but are constructions designed to do a job the best possible way. Different conceptions of fundamental terms like information are thus more or less fruitful depending on what theories (and in the end what practical actions) they are expected to support. In Chapter 1, we discuss the problems of defining terms in the light of the philosophy of science. The history of a word tells us mostly only anecdotes that are peripheral to the concept itself. But in our case the use of the word information points to a specific perspective under which the concept of knowledge communication was defined and designated. We explore this history in Chapter 2 and we believe that our results may help to better understand the complexity of this concept also with regard to its scientific definitions. The discussions about the information concept in other disciplines are also very important for Information Science because many theories and approaches in Information Science have their origins in other disciplines. This is surveyed in Chapter 3. The epistemological concept of information has lead also to a new perspective of non-human information processes particularly in physics and biology. And vice versa: processes of selection and interpretation may be considered when related to psychic and social phenomena with regard to objective parameters, leaving aside the semantic dimension or, more precisely, considering objective or situational parameters of interpretation. This can be illustrated also in physical terms with regard to release mechanisms as we suggest at the end of Chapter 3. Our overview of the concept of information in the natural sciences as well as in the humanities and social sciences does not aim at exploring different theories in depth. In most cases we can only refer to fragments of theories that the user may interpret within her own background or follow the hints of the bibliography. Readers mostly interested in information science may get more satisfied with Chapter 4 where we bring a more detailed explanation of diverse views and theories of information within our field, supplementing the ARIST article by Cornelius (2001). We show that the introduction of the concept of information about 1950 to what was formerly special librarianship and documentation in itself has had serious consequences for the kind of knowledge and theories developed in our field. The important question is not only what meaning we give to the term in Information Science, but also how it relates to other basic terms such as documents, texts and knowledge.en_US
dc.format.mimetypetext/htmlen_US
dc.language.isoenen_US
dc.publisherInformation Todayen_US
dc.subjectInformation Scienceen_US
dc.titleTHE CONCEPT OF INFORMATIONen_US
dc.typeJournal (Paginated)en_US
dc.identifier.journalAnnual Review of Information Science and Technologyen_US
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