Information is all-pervading!
• For the purposes of science,
information had to mean
something special. . . . A rite
of purification became
• And then, when it was made
simple, distilled, counted in bits,
information was found to be
everywhere. [Claude] Shannon’s [information] theory
 made a bridge between information and
uncertainty; between information and entropy; and
between information and chaos. It led to compact discs
and fax machines, computers and cyberspace, Moore’s
law and all the world’s Silicon Alleys. Information
processing was born, along with information storage and
information retrieval. People began to name a successor
to the Iron Age and the Steam Age.
• Gleick, James (2011). The Information: A History, a Theory, a
Flood (Kindle Locations 134-138). Pantheon. Kindle Edition.
• We can see now that
information is what our world
runs on: the blood and the fuel,
the vital principle. It pervades
the sciences from top to bottom,
transforming every branch of
Information theory began as a
bridge from mathematics to
electrical engineering and from
there to computing.
• Gleick, James (2011). The Information: A History, a
Theory, a Flood (Kindle Locations 141-143). Pantheon.
Information, more precisely
• Data presented in readily comprehensible form to
which meaning has been attributed within the
context of its use. In a more dynamic sense, the
message conveyed by the use of a medium of
communication or expression.
• Whether a specific message is informative or not
depends in part on the subjective perception of
the person receiving it. . . . Compare with
• ODLIS: Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science
Another view of “information”
Comment from a former faculty member at
the College of Library and Information in Oslo,
“. . . you know, there’s
nothing as fluid as the
information concept; it’s
like . . . an amoeba!”
From a group interview for Dr.
Johan Koren’s dissertation
research, Fall 1989
Do you know what information is?
What is it?
According to the International Encyclopedia of Information
and Library Science, information is “best seen as holding
the place in the spectrum between raw data and
knowledge. Seen in this way, information is an assemblage
of data in a comprehensible form capable of
communication and use: facts to which meaning has been
In this sense, almost everything could be information -
facts (events, concepts, objects, etc.) that carry meaning
and can be communicated.
LIB 120 - What is Information?
University Libraries » LibGuides @ URI » LIB 120 - What is
Characteristics of information
Information comes in all shapes and sizes. Knowing
some of its characteristics will help you better
identify your information need and evaluate what
you are receiving.
• Factual vs Analytical
• Subjective vs Objective
• Current vs Historical
• Scholarly vs Popular
Understanding the information
FLCC Library » LibGuides » Library Research
Tutorial: Information Formats
That is, what the information looks (or sounds) like
• After “information theory” came to be, so did
“information overload,” “information glut,”
“information anxiety,” and “information
fatigue,” the last recognized by the OED in
2009 as a timely syndrome: “Apathy,
indifference, or mental exhaustion arising
from exposure to too much information, esp.
(in later use) stress induced by the attempt to
assimilate excessive amounts of information
from the media, the Internet, or at work.”
• Gleick, James (2011). The Information: A
History, a Theory, a Flood (Kindle Locations
7201-7205). Pantheon. Kindle Edition.
Gleick has none but hard work:
• No deus ex machina waits in the wings; no man behind
• As ever, it is the choice that informs us (in the original
sense of that word). Selecting the genuine takes work;
then forgetting takes even more work. This is the curse of
omniscience: the answer to any question may arrive at the
fingertips—via Google or Wikipedia or IMDb or YouTube
or Epicurious or the National DNA Database or any of
their natural heirs and successors—and still we wonder
what we know.
• Gleick, James (2011). The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood
(Kindle Locations 7587-7588; 7592-7595). Pantheon. Kindle Edition.
Is there help to be found from librarians?
• If so, how should it work?
Can we help?