What is information?

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From Borgman's new book:
Buckland (1991) distinguished between information as process, as knowledge, or as thing. Donald Case (2002, 2012) collected dozens of definitions of information, grouping them by how they dealt with uncertainty, physicality, structure/process, intentionality, and truth. Jonathan Furner (2004) applied three criteria to selecting definitions of information: coherence, parsimony, and utility. Later, he identified three families of conceptions of information that are broadly useful: semiotic, socio-cognitive, and epistemic (Furner, 2010).


From Rice Ch 3:
Buckland’s extensive discussion of the components and dimensions of information: three major conceptualizations of information: (1) process (change of what someone knows, an intangible process), (2) knowledge (an imparted intangible or its representation; change in beliefs, level of uncertainty; an intangible entity), and (3) thing (objects with the attribute of being informative; an expression, description, or representation; a tangible entity). Buckland does not present these as opposing definitions of information; rather, they are three forms, states, or elements.

A measure of the degree of disorganization in a system — reflecting a tendency for any state of affairs to lose order and become more random. A concept from physics employed by Claude Shannon to define his measure of information (see Chapter 3; Morowitz, 1991; and Ritchie, 1991).



A research tradition having its roots in sociology (e.g., Schutz, 1967; Berger & Luckmann, 1967; and Garfinkel, 1984) and in educational psychology (e.g., Dewey, 1933; Kelly, 1963; and Vygotsky, 1978). This mix of theories and methodologies emphasizes the ways in which individuals construct an understanding of their world. Within information behavior research, constructivism has been influential in the works of Brenda Dervin and Carol Kuhlthau (see also “Constructionism” in this Glossary; Chapter 7; Bates, 2005a; and Talja,Tuominen, & Savolainen, 2005).

Rice Chs 1 & 3
They say the “unintentional” limiting of access illustrates hegemonic power a la Hall.
MT: I don’t think info control has been particularly unintentional!
But their point i that there is great power in the ability to “set and follow the terms of the debate, to define the parameters for form and content, to establish the framework for the very notion of what info can mean.” 16

1. What are the underlying conceptualizations of information?
Buckland:  identifies three major conceptualizations of information: (1) process (change of what someone knows, an intangible process), (2) knowledge (an imparted intangible or its representation; change in beliefs, level of uncertainty; an intangible entity), and (3) thing (objects with the attribute of being informative; an expression, description, or representation; a tangible entity).

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Case:  significant differences in definitions of information are derived from different assumptions about (1) intentionality of the user or communicator, (2) utility of the information, (3) physicality of the information (material, conceptual, observable), and (4) truth or accuracy.

Case p. 4: defining information: any difference you perceive (4)

MT: If one conceives of an internal information network, information gaps are structural holes. The value of bridges to traverse these holes is one way of looking at network theory and information economics in relation to ISB (8)