What the hell is it? What has been thought about it? How has it been theorized? In which disciplines has it been used as a concept? Do we even need it as a theoretical concept? Might we be better of without it?
It seems that I have acquired another area of deep interest. Perhaps some of you could have predicted it—based on much of what I have been reading lately—before I even admitted it to myself. Once you see this week’s upcoming “Some things read…” post—and it is only Monday—it will be fairly evident.
Sure. I meant to “go in deep” and do a bit of reading in this area as I saw fit…
“…you’ll be the keeper of your Holy Grail…”
Pavlov’s Dog. Episode. Pampered Menial.
Sorry, minor musical interlude.
…but I hadn’t quite intended to head so far down the path. Honestly, I think pretty much everyone in our field ought to be seriously concerned with information as a concept. Reading an article or two (Buckland, probably) is simply not enough; as canonical (and good) as they may be.
I forced my way through Raber’s The Problem of Information and tracked down and read many of his very productive sources. If only his book read as well as some of the sources.
While reading Raber I serendipitously stumbled across (that is, I picked the print journal up off the shelf to leaf through) an article by Birger Hjørland in JASIST 58 (10) 2007. I commented on this article, which is a critique of a concept of information put forth recently by Marcia Bates, in my “Some things read this week, 5 – 11 August 2007” post.
Imagine my utter surprise and absolute delight when cleaning out the spam caught by Akismet a few days ago (1 Sep) to find a comment from Dr. Hjørland. He suggested that I send a letter to the editor of JASIST outlining my critique of his view to which he might offer a rejoinder. Wow!
Note: A proper theory of information needs to account for why a comment full of links about licking … ,well, you get the idea, gets through to moderation but a comment from one of our leading researchers with no links gets caught by the spam filter. [Although, perhaps not a theory of information for LIS.]
Lesson to the less “important” among us to check our spam filters and not just automatically trash everything.
As it is, my critique is only of one very small part of his paper. It is also an idea that I have read in many places, and has direct corollaries in other views within theories of information.
That is, that information is that which answers a question (his use) or it is that which reduces uncertainty. I maintain that information can just as often and easily cause an increase in uncertainty and/or generate more questions than it answers, if it even answers any.
In fact, if information did not cause uncertainty or generate questions, would we not quickly satisfy all of our information needs? Whoa! Sorry, just finally verbalized that. Is this so patently obvious that it is rarely acknowledged in our theories?
Anyway, I may well end up doing my bibliography on the concept of information in LIS. So much for doing something that I already have a lot of work done in. Oh well, I’m well on my way as it is.