Chapter 1: Information Sciences
2 Information Science Careers and Fields
Information Science Careers
An information scientist is an individual, usually with a relevant subject degree or high level of subject knowledge, providing focused information to scientific and technical research staff in industry, a role quite distinct from and complementary to that of a librarian. The title also applies to an individual carrying out research in information science.
An information professional is an individual who preserves, organizes, and disseminates information. Information professionals are skilled in the organization and retrieval of recorded knowledge. Traditionally, their work has been with print materials, but these skills are being increasingly used with electronic, visual, audio, and digital materials. Information professionals work in a variety of public, private, non-profit, and academic institutions. Information professionals can also be found within organizational and industrial contexts. Performing roles that include system design and development and system analysis.
Information access is an area of research at the intersection of Informatics, Information Science, Information Security, Language Technology, Computer Science, and Library Science. The objectives of information access research are to automate the processing of large and unwieldy amounts of information and to simplify users’ access to it. Applicable technologies include information retrieval, text mining, machine translation, and text categorisation. In discussion, information access is often defined as concerning the insurance of free and closed access to information and is brought up in discussions on copyright, patent law, and public domain.
Information architecture (IA) is the art and science of organizing and labelling websites, intranets, online communities and software to support usability. It is an emerging discipline and community of practice focused on bringing together principles of design and architecture to the digital landscape. Typically it involves a model or concept of information which is used and applied to activities that require explicit details of complex information systems. These activities include library systems and database development.
Information management (IM) is the collection and management of information from one or more sources and the distribution of that information to one or more audiences. This sometimes involves those who have a stake in, or a right to that information. Management means the organization of and control over the structure, processing and delivery of information. Throughout the 1970s this was largely limited to files, file maintenance, and the life cycle management of paper-based files, other media and records. With the proliferation of information technology starting in the 1970s, the job of information management took on a new light and also began to include the field of data maintenance.
Information retrieval (IR) is the area of study concerned with searching for documents, for information within documents, and for metadata about documents, as well as that of searching structured storage, relational databases, and the World Wide Web. Automated information retrieval systems are used to reduce what has been called “information overload“. Many universities and public libraries use IR systems to provide access to books, journals and other documents. Web search engines are the most visible IR applications.
An information retrieval process begins when a user enters a query into the system. Queries are formal statements of information needs, for example search strings in web search engines. In information retrieval a query does not uniquely identify a single object in the collection. Instead, several objects may match the query, perhaps with different degrees of relevancy.
An object is an entity that is represented by information in a database. User queries are matched against the database information. Depending on the application the data objects may be, for example, text documents, images, audio, mind maps or videos. Often the documents themselves are not kept or stored directly in the IR system, but are instead represented in the system by document surrogates or metadata.
Most IR systems compute a numeric score on how well each object in the database match the query, and rank the objects according to this value. The top ranking objects are then shown to the user. The process may then be iterated if the user wishes to refine the query.
Information seeking is the process or activity of attempting to obtain information in both human and technological contexts. Information seeking is related to, but different from, information retrieval (IR).
Much library and information science (LIS) research has focused on the information-seeking practices of practitioners within various fields of professional work. Studies have been carried out into the information-seeking behaviors of librarians, academics, medical professionals, engineers and lawyers (among others). Much of this research has drawn on the work done by Leckie, Pettigrew (now Fisher) and Sylvain, who in 1996 conducted an extensive review of the LIS literature (as well as the literature of other academic fields) on professionals’ information seeking. The authors proposed an analytic model of professionals’ information seeking behaviour, intended to be generalizable across the professions, thus providing a platform for future research in the area. The model was intended to “prompt new insights… and give rise to more refined and applicable theories of information seeking” (1996, p. 188). The model has been adapted by Wilkinson (2001) who proposes a model of the information seeking of lawyers.
An information society is a society where the creation, distribution, diffusion, uses, integration and manipulation of information is a significant economic, political, and cultural activity. The aim of an information society is to gain competitive advantage internationally, through using IT in a creative and productive way. The knowledge economy is its economic counterpart, whereby wealth is created through the economic exploitation of understanding. People who have the means to partake in this form of society are sometimes called digital citizens.
Basically, an information society is the means of getting information from one place to another (Wark, 1997, p. 22). As technology has become more advanced over time so too has the way we have adapted in sharing this information with each other.
Information society theory discusses the role of information and information technology in society, the question of which key concepts should be used for characterizing contemporary society, and how to define such concepts. It has become a specific branch of contemporary sociology.
Knowledge representation and reasoning
Knowledge representation (KR) is an area of artificial intelligence research aimed at representing knowledge in symbols to facilitate inferencing from those knowledge elements, creating new elements of knowledge. The KR can be made to be independent of the underlying knowledge model or knowledge base system (KBS) such as a semantic network.
Knowledge Representation (KR) research involves analysis of how to reason accurately and effectively and how best to use a set of symbols to represent a set of facts within a knowledge domain. A symbol vocabulary and a system of logic are combined to enable inferences about elements in the KR to create new KR sentences. Logic is used to supply formal semantics of how reasoning functions should be applied to the symbols in the KR system. Logic is also used to define how operators can process and reshape the knowledge. Examples of operators and operations include, negation, conjunction, adverbs, adjectives, quantifiers and modal operators. The logic is interpretation theory. These elements—symbols, operators, and interpretation theory—are what give sequences of symbols meaning within a KR.