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Exploring the Notion of Information: a Proposal for a Multifaced Understanding
Published: 04 July 2010 by MDPI in The 4th International Conference on the Foundations of Information Science session FIS 2010
Abstract: The notion of Information is one of the most essential that guides situations to flow in certain ways. Situations such as those of natural disasters, "the Haiti earthquake 2010"; the financial crisis, that of "Greece Crisis 2010"; or the environmental disasters, such as that of "oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico 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 on how we deal with it in our practical lives, which in turn may give rise to situations that we would prefer to be without. This way, the notion of information has evidently presented the need to question what it really means and how does it dominate the functioning of our global society. Thus, two questions emerge in this paper: what definitions of the notion of information are presented in the literature?; and, what are the differences between these definitions? To answer these questions, we have conducted a comprehensive literature survey of more than two hundred gathered publications. Detailed analyses of the content of these publications identified four forms of information notion definitions. The results show that these four forms present diverse and opposing views of the notion of information, labelled as the "quartet approach". These addressed different foci, contexts and challenges. In addition, we present an alternative, yet a novel understanding of the notion of information, associated with how information functions in our societies. This understanding is presented with a new perspective, intended to address significant needs of the information society.
Keywords: information notion; information definition; information society; literature survey