Information: Definition, Types, Nature, Properties And Scope

1) Enumerate the disciplines that have information as their core area of study, indicating the information aspect that is studied

  • The disciplines that claim to be dealing with the phenomena of information as their centra core are: Electrica Engineering e.g. signa transmission over noisy channels as propounded in the Information Theory of Shannon;
  • Computer Technology e.g. information processing, storage and retrieva as bits;
  • Physica Sciences e.g. information considered as an abstraction similar to matter and energy; also analogous to the phenomena of movement and diffusion, structure, communication and entropy;  
  • Biologica Sciences e.g. information processing in living beings;
  • Behavioura Sciences e.g. cognitive process of information;
  • Socia Sciences e.g. sociology and economics of information and knowledge; here information is viewed as a resource and an economic commodity;
  • Philosophica Studies e.g. conventiona and modern studies on epistemology;
  • Linguistic Studies e.g. expressing, structuring, coding and communicating ideas and information;
  • Library and Information Studies e.g. application of Information Technology for conventiona practices of librarianship and the new dimension that are evolving, including the newly emerging information systems and services;
  • Information Science and Technology e.g. studies involving the intersection of disciplines mentioned above.

2) Explain the simplified model of information transfer derived from Shannon-Weaver Theory.
The Information Theory of Shannon-Weaver pertains more accurately to the communication process of signal transmission and has an extremely sophisticated mathematical base for examining the effects of transmission of messages. The word ‘information’, here is not concerned with contents but the messages that the sender, by signals, conveys to the receiver to select a particular message from the ensemble of possible messages. Therefore, in this narrow technical sense of the term, information is the statistical probability of a sign or signal being selected from a given set of signs or signals.
The mode has been simplified into a flow mode viz.
Source--> Message-->Channel-->Receiver

3) State the difference between concept and definition as exemplified by Belkin.
 A definition defines the phenomenon; but a concept interprets the phenomenon. Instead of trying to define the phenomenon for which there is no one single definition acceptable to all; it is more useful to interpret the concept of information in all its ramifications in different contexts. It leads to explain the transfer process of information. Belkin postulates three approaches to the determination of the requirement of an information concept:

  • Methodological … having to do with utility of the concept;
  • Behavioural … having to do with the phenomena which the concept must account for;
  • Definitional … having to do with the context of the concept.

4) Give the salient points on the nature and definition of information propounded by  Brookes.
According to Brookes, knowledge is a summation of many bits of information, which have been organized into some sort of coherent entity. This relationship is expressed in a simple equation, which he calls the fundamental equation of Information Science.
K (S) + D1 = K (S + D S)
Where K is knowledge structure and (S + D S) is the modified knowledge structure caused by the absorption of the increment of information DI to K(S). He believes that the fundamental problem of Information Science is to interpret this equation and thereby to explain the information process.
D= Delta

5) What are the premises on which Bell bases his arguments on the transformation of the Industrial Society into Information Society?
Daniel Bell places emphasis on the centrality of theoretical knowledge as the source of innovation and policy formation in a information Society. The social transformation of a society from industrial to a post-industrial Society (information society) is based on the creation of a new intellectual knowledge. He asserts that this is a key tool for system analysis and decision theory based on the new theoretical knowledge, computerization, formal rules and procedures; it involves new methods which seek to substitute an algorithm i.e. decision rules for intuitive judgments.

6) Sum up Machlup’s approach to information science as a cluster of many disciplines wherein the central core is information.
Machlup says that the bond among the Information Sciences is their focus on information as the object of study, though it is important to bear in mind that the word ‘information’ is interpreted very differently by various groups of researchers.  Like the Natural Sciences and Social Sciences, Information Sciences need no single paradigm, no overarching scientific research programs, no common fundamental postulates and axioms, no united conceptual framework. It is, therefore, possible for several disciplines (wherein the central theme of study is information) to keep their own identity and yet be together as a cluster of independent disciplines. He, however, urges that the word ‘information’ should not be used where only observation and analysis are involved.

7) Explain briefly the relevance of the discussion of the different authors
who have been examining the nature and definition to the study of Library
and Information Science.
The discussions on the nature and definition of information provide us a sharper focus on the common and quality of information service to users either for reducing uncertainty to their prior information or perceptions or help in taking right decisions in different contexts or aiding their studies or research or adding to or enriching their already existing knowledge. The main concern of library and information scientists, being involved in a communication transfer process, is to the intellectual and semantic contents of information and the provision of offering high quality service.
This approach coalesces well with the general philosophy of library and information science.

8) Summarise the classification of information
The three broad properties of information with examples are:
General: Information is not consumed in its use. It can be shared by many and can be used simultaneously without any loss to anyone.
Scientific Information: Universal, particularly in the physical, chemical and biological sciences. Open and available to all who seek them, through a well organized communication system.
Technological and Economic Information: Restricted because of time and geographical space bound. Competitive because of business interests, sometimes for reasons of security of nation.

9) Give briefly the scope of information studies as viewed by Vickery and Ranganathan
Information and knowledge are basic inputs for human growth and development. It is reflected in many ways in actual life of every human being or institutional organisation. Vickery and Ranganathan have examined information and knowledge in the context of Library and Information Science as the study of the behaviour of people as generators, sources, etc. bibliometric measurements, semantic organization of information, storage, analysis and retrieval; sociology, politics and economics of information. Ranganathan incorporates most of these ideas in his Five Laws restated with information as focus instead of books.  This mode recurs implicitly or explicitly in many of the information Transfer Systems that have been evolved dealing with contents of information as well. Information transfer Process in scientific communication is explained usually as a flow mode corresponding to the mode of information theory stated above. It has been found useful to deal with information transfer in this way in different situations in Library and Information Service.

Channel : Established carriers that disseminate information of knowledge or any type of their surrogates.
Information : (No single definition is possible) Information is the building block of knowledge is generally relevant in library and information studies.
Information Transfer Chain : The movement of information from generation to use with a series of intermediate links that connect each other to form a chain.
Knowledge : Knowledge is an organised set of statements of ideas, presenting a reasoned judgment or an experimental result which is transmitted to others through some communication medium in a systematic form.
Media : The physical media that carry messages or contents of information.
Recipient : The ultimate receiver of information who may also generate or create information.
Source : The mode of communicating messages through signs, symbols, texts or graphics.
Spectrum : A broad range of varied but related ideas, the individual features of which tend to develop so as to form a continuous series of sequence.

Source: IGNOU Study Material

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