The Nature of Information Science
In a broad sense, information is simply processed, arranged and organised information. It gives context to previously processed data and allows effective decision making about risk. For instance, a single consumer’s sale at a certain restaurant is information this becomes information in the form of a report when the company is able to identify which dish has the highest percentage of customers purchasing that particular dish over another.
The information that we collect about ourselves, our habits, our emotions and our tastes is information. We cannot avoid the fact that in many instances it is stored unprocessed within us. It may be in an emotional state that we are unable to express it in words and even recognize that it is there. We might keep quiet about it because of fear of being judged. There is also a hidden treasure of information that is waiting to be found by those who know how to find it, and it is sometimes referred to as the wealth of knowledge.
At its extreme, information is a lie. But then, all information is a lie, perhaps except the truth. In any case, it is a useful starting point for the process of making decisions about risk. When considering a purchase of insurance or a loan, for example, information about the potential costs and benefits is important. But it is ultimately the weighing of the information that determines the risk. The ultimate risk assessment would be one that takes into consideration the sum total of all the available information about a product or service and the likelihood of that product or service failing to meet a customer’s needs.
However, much of the information science literature is concerned with the more problematic forms of information. Information theory refers to the study of how information behaves, the distribution of information and its relationships and how those relationships themselves are constructed. Information theory has been divided into two fields: one refers to the scientific study of information and the other to the applications of information in science, industry and elsewhere. Much of the work done in information science deals with networks, including social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Those are characterized by their vast networks of shared information, their distributed nature and their ability to quickly propagate.
Another branch of information science is applied computer science. There are many areas of applying this technology. One of these areas focuses on the management of large amounts of information. Information is used in every area of business from retail sales to management to engineering. In any case, information management involves both providing information and its managing.
Applied information science also studies how organizations use information to mitigate risks. Large organizations have long used information to manage risk, but now many smaller organizations as well. Some small organizations have developed internal IT systems to deal with the risk of relying on external sources. This has been described as a form of information risk management, since information science can provide a tool for organizations to manage this risk.