Re: Information -- a working definition?

Subject: Re: Information -- a working definition?
From: Damien Braniff <Damien -dot- Braniff -at- asg -dot- com>
To: "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 2010 09:44:00 +0100

This is from a presentation (several years ago) on information design, based on article(s) by Saul Carliner - may or may not help! :-)

The word information derives from the Latin "informare" which means "to put into form". Informing therefore carries the sense of "imparting learning" or, more generally, "to tell (one) of something". Information therefore refers to the action of informing or to that which is told. Information has been defined as being "meaningful, it has a subject, it is intelligence or instruction about something or someone".

But why information? Why not knowledge, after all we now have "knowledge managers"?

Generally speaking, knowledge and information are split in three ways:

1. Multiplicity - information is seen as fragmented, piecemeal while knowledge is structured and coherent.
2. Temporal - information is timely, transitory, even ephemeral while knowledge is seen as enduring.
3. Spatial - information is a "flow" while knowledge is a stock, specifically located.

In essence, information, as it is used today, is conceived as a process whereas knowledge is a state. At the most basic level information can be equated to raw data and, as such, has 2 main functions:

1. As an input into a process (manufacturing, economic etc).
2. As an output that is sold as a commodity in its own right (info sold on customers to other retailers etc).

Damien Braniff
Sr. Technical Writer
damienb -at- asg -dot- com
Waterfront PLaza
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Tel: +44 (0) 28.9072.3124
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