Information Science – How it Informs About the Present and Shapes the Future

Robert V. Williams, Univ. of South Carolin, has documented the Chronology of Information Science, and it dates back to the 17th Century when The Royal Society (London) published the first issue of Philosophical Transactions, which is generally considered the first scientific journal. From the 17th century to the 21st century, the work done in the IS has changed and has leapt. In 1997 CAS registry database contained over 23 million names. The emergence of studies about information-related disciplines was inevitable and was a matter of time. With time, these disciplines evolved.

What is information? This question has been discussed for centuries. The earlier human civilization used paintings and differently shaped rocks to communicate and transfer information from one generation to another. After the invention of printing, knowledge sharing exploded and reached to masses.

In 1959, the Moore School of Electrical Engineering used the term Information Science for the first time. It referred to a computer program, not a theory about information. Various discussions published related to Information Science provides us with key insights and directions for the future. Technologies which we use on a day-to-day basis once were conceived as an idea and concepts. Later on, these ideas took the shape of products widely adopted by the masses. For example, In May 1971, OCLC first demonstrates its online search system (Bourne & Hahn). Today, online search system dominates the world wide web, and it is difficult for us to imagine our life without using a search system, be it an online search engine, searching through social sites, or searching through university libraries. This indicates how Information Science can inform the present and shape the future.

In 1996, ACS creates ChemCenter, a web service to access a wide variety of chemical information. Includes full text of 26 ACS journals. During 2020’s Covid pandemic, humans saw millions of vaccine shots manufactured and distributed worldwide in record time. The vaccines were developed in a few years instead of decades. This was possible because online records of different chemical substances, DNA and RNA structures and their properties were available for computers to work on. Instead of doing lab experiments which would fail to see how the RNA strands would react to different chemicals, computer models were used to see these reactions. Thousands of combinations were rejected based on the computer models, and simulations and only those with the highest probabilities were selected and used in experimentation. This saved years and reduced the time to conceive for vaccines. This is the power of information science and how it informs the present and shapes the future.


Robert V. Williams. (1997). Chronology of Information Science and Technology. Univ. of South Carolina, College of Library and Information Science

Taşkın, Z. Forecasting the future of library and information science and its sub-fields. Scientometrics 126, 1527–1551 (2021).

Yan, Xueshan. (2011). Information Science: Its Past, Present and Future. Information. 2. 510-527. 10.3390/info2030510.

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