Understanding Information Science as an Interdisciplinary Field of Study

Information science is an interdisciplinary field primarily concerned with the collection, curation, storage and dissemination of information. To understand it better, it deals with analysis, collection, classification, manipulation, storage, retrieval, movement, dissemination, and protection of information (Wikipedia). Information Science deals with capturing, generating, storing, disseminating, transforming, presentation of information in multiple possible forms and ways and deals with all aspects of processes of the information life cycle. Information Science is at the intersection of people, information and technology that is concerned with the body of information (knowledge) relating to knowledge creation, curation, organization, storage, transformation, and utilization of information needed to understand problems and aims at understanding problems and then applying information and other related technologies to systematically tackle problems from both perspectives of the individuals and the organizations.

After the invention of printing, information became available in huge quantities, and scientifically managing this information became a challenge. The early days of passing information from one generation to another orally using poems and stories were insufficient and limited the dissemination of information. During the 20th century, people felt a strong desire to make information services scientifically available (Michael Buckland, 2012). Establishing professional organizations like the American Library Association (ALA) assisted in the professionalization of the information field. With the invention of computers came a big shift in how information was stored, classified and distributed. Computer programmers began to develop programs that would help librarians to store, classify, and retrieve books and information (Vannevar Bush, 1945).

The 21st century is dominated by computers and algorithms which have democratised information. Information is now available to the general public on their computers and mobile phones at a fraction of the cost. Devices like Amazon Kindle can now store hundreds of books in the pocket. Services like Audible, and Spotify have made dissemination and utilization (consumption) of information very easy. Now, one can listen to books instead of reading. These services are powered by Artificial Intelligence which provides content consumers with recommendations. These services help a person identify and retrieve pieces of information based on interest and demography.

Though for an end user, this access to information is easy, available 24×7 irrespective of their location; behind the scene, it is powered by very complex, agile, energy-hungry systems. The cloud-based services are powered by ultra-modern, cloud-based computer systems. These systems will continue to evolve, making access to information more and more democratized.

References:

Bush, Vannevar (1945). “As We May Think,” Atlantic Monthly 176 (July 1945)

Buckland,, Michael (2012). What Kind of Science Can Information Science Be? “JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR INFORMATION SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY” (July, 2012)

Information Science, from the Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_science

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