The Various and Conflicting Notions of Information

Karl Knox
InSITE 2007  •  Volume 7  •  2007
There are identified within the discourse a number of notions regarding the term information. This paper sets out to explore these sometimes-conflicting notions of information. The reason why conflicting notions occur is the result of different perspectives and understanding of the term information. Within the discourse two camps are identified, firstly, those who identify information as a resource and those who identify information as a processual approach enacted by individuals. The former is not uncommon within the business environment given the relationship seen between information and technology; this view simplifies information as merely structured data. The latter approach requires the involvement of individuals or more succinctly human understanding and interpretation. By viewing information as a processual process enacted by humans one is identifying an alternative view of how information is created, managed, used and developed. The aim is to discuss both views to gain clarity and understanding in terms of why the various and conflicting notions of information impact on its use within organisations. What is highlighted within this paper is that information is a complex and ambiguous term. There is no easy ‘off-the shelf solution to managing information. One potentially successful approach is to view information from an epistemological perspective. This requires those having to deal with this complex and ambiguous term a starting point from which to build and gain both an individual and an organisational understanding in terms of the use of information. This allows individuals to set direction, decide where to focus their effort and ultimately how to gain some control over this vital and important issue of ‘information’.
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