Principles of Information Science
“Information is power”, sounds like an overused phrase, yet it is an accurate description of the process by which information is created, collected, processed and used. In a broader sense, information is structured, processed and organised data in a meaningful form. It gives context to other data and helps human decision making. For instance, a single consumer’s sale in a restaurant is multiple data this becomes information when an entity able to gather and sort this data is able to make informed decisions about its purchase.
Much information is non-public, stored internally or held by companies that are not publicly traded. This is the case in financial records at banks or insurance companies. It also applies to intellectual property such as books, inventions and copyright. The creation and access to information is governed by several different principles and there is considerable effort underway to standardise the collection, storage and use of information.
Information systems are being developed to manage information. Information technology is also being developed to manage information systems. Information systems are software applications that allow users to store, manipulate, search and transmit information. Examples of information systems include email systems, web applications and file servers.
A key principle of information science is that information can be made to be relevant. Information is best served by being linked to reality. So the first rule is to make information understandable. The second rule is to make information meaningful. The third rule is to make information accessible. This may entail developing interfaces that are simple, clear, consistent and logical.
The fourth rule is to make sure that information is available when it is needed. This is not always as simple as it sounds. Complex information needs to be processed in order to be useful. Processing speed depends not only on the processor speed of the computer but also on the speed of the network attached to the computer and its ability to cope with large volumes of information.
Data management is another important principle of information science. The principle states that if information systems are not used appropriately, they can slow down the overall processing speed. Data can be stored in various ways but the final product is rarely the same in all cases. Data management therefore focuses on making information accessible and usable in different situations.
Information systems are normally designed to satisfy one or more particular users. Some people may need information instantaneously while others will want it to be stored in their database for future use. Others will need access to information at a later date while some will simply need data in a form that is easy to retrieve. Principles of information science allow information systems to satisfy these various requirements while providing a higher level of efficiency.
Information science is a dynamic field and there are many concepts and ideas in it. A well-established information science is one that can adapt to changing needs and situations. The best information science principles therefore are those that help information to be able to take on multiple roles. With the application of modern technology and a greater focus on usability, information will continue to improve and will become an integral part of society.