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What is Information Science?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 29 November 2016
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Information science is a term that refers to interdisciplinary research. This science involves the collection, analysis, and categorization of various types of information as well as the storage and retrieval of it. This type of science also involves the dispersing, use, and management of information. Sometimes people think of information science as a computer science category. Information science, however, actually includes some parts of computer science under its umbrella as well as a range of fields that span from archival science and law to library science and mathematics.

When a person studies information science, he attempts to gain more knowledge and a better understanding of problems people and companies face in collecting, storing, analyzing, retrieving, and using information. This field of science also involves using technology and developing systems to deal with such problems. For example, an information scientist may design and implement database systems for the collection, storage, and retrieval of information.

There is a range of topics that fall under the heading of information science. They include such things as information ethics and information architecture. Information ethics involves the investigation of ethics as they relate to information technologies. Some of the things that are involved in information ethics are privacy issues and those related to the life cycle of information. Information architecture, however, refers to information structuring; it involves the organization and categorization of information so it is easy to use.

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Human-computer interaction and groupware are also information science topics. Human-computer interaction is the study of the manner in which human beings interact with computers. Groupware, on the other hand, refers to software that helps people to work together to accomplish tasks. For example, calendaring and e-mail programs fall under this heading. Likewise, text chat software is referred to as groupware.

Often, those who decide to pursue careers in information science do so because they are interested in the relationship between technology and applied science as well as how these subjects have affected society. Those who commit to careers in this field are often prepared to spend the span of their careers working to increase their knowledge and understanding of these subjects. There are many information science careers a person may pursue. For example, a person may go into a technical services field and work to provide support services to people who seek to retrieve and use information from catalogs and indexes. Some people interested in this field may even work as information brokers, researching and retrieving information for others who need it in exchange for a fee.

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anon343043
Post 4

Actually, I have taken information sci as my main course in BE and needed to know what it actually deals with. This was really helpful.

pleonasm
Post 3

@pastanaga - I know, I've heard wonderful stories about librarians fighting censorship and protecting ancient manuscripts. But there are others who will burn books given the opportunity. Which is one of the reasons I think it's so fantastic that so much information is available to us online now.

When you think about the library and information science that goes into keeping up the websites that collate information, it's actually quite an astonishing achievement of humankind. I almost wish I could go back to school and study a Masters in Information Science just so that I could appreciate the glory and horror that is the internet even better.

pastanaga
Post 2

@Iluviaporos - I like that idea about people being information creatures. It's actually kind of interesting what it says in the article about needing to think about the ethics of this kind of research as well.

Most people tend to think that all information should be freely available, but there are so many places where boundaries should be put up. For example, letting adopted people know who their birth parents are. Whoever develops that system and the legislation surrounding it needs to be aware of the legality of controlling that kind of information.

Even library information science isn't as straightforward as picking books at random. Do you go for the most popular books and leave people who like niche topics without access? Do you stock controversial books like Mein Kampf?

I've actually always been impressed by the actions of librarians in the face of politics which threatened their collections. Library science isn't limited to only knowing how to shelve books.

lluviaporos
Post 1

Information science sounds stuffy, but it's actually a really interesting field to go into, no matter which aspect of it you choose to pursue. In some ways, it's one of the more important careers for humanity, particularly in this age when a person can get more information from a single web page than their ancestors might have ever had in their entire lives.

My father used to like to say that people are information creatures at their hearts. Figuring out ways for that information to be delivered in a timely and relevant way is crucial to so much of our lives.

I mean, when you think about it, Google is one of the most celebrated companies in the world and they are in the business of figuring out how to get information to people. People working at Google might have computer degrees but they are working on information science research.

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