Exploring the Notion of Information: A Proposal for a Multifaced Understanding
AbstractMan’s notion of ‘information’ is essential as it guides human thinking, planning, and consequent actions. Situations such as the Haiti earthquake in 2010, the financial crisis in Greece in 2010, and the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 are just a few instances of constant growing empirical dilemmas in our global society where information plays a central role. The meaning of what information is has clear implications for how we deal with it in our practical lives, which in turn may give rise to situations that we would prefer to be without. In this sense, the notion of information has evidently presented the need to question what it really means and how it dominates the functioning of our global society. To address this fundamental issue of information, two questions are explored and presented in this paper: What notions of information are dominating the scholarly literature? And what are the differences between these notions? To answer these questions, we have conducted a comprehensive literature survey of more than two hundred scholarly publications. Detailed analyses of the content of these publications identified four kinds of forms of information notions. The results show that these four forms present diverse and opposing views of the notion of information, labelled as the ‘quartet model of information’. These ad-dress different foci, contexts, and challenges. In addition, we propose an alternative and novel understanding of the notion of information, associated with how information functions in our global society. This understanding offers a new perspective intended to address significant needs of the information society.
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