Information is provisional

Chapman, David (2014). Information is provisional. Kybernetes, 43(6) pp. 895–910.



Purpose - This paper aims to contribute to a transdisciplinary understanding of the nature of information.

Design/methodology/approach - The work draws from previous work done on information in several disciplines and contexts, and proposes a new framework for describing and understanding information. It applies the framework to several different situations involving information, explores the insights revealed by the use of the framework and discusses some of the implications.

Findings - Information is usefully described as a situated event that extracts or generates meaning, with the distinction between extracting or generating meaning corresponding to the distinction between semantic and environmental information. A diagrammatic convention based on communications theory and making use of hierarchies of levels is found to provide a powerful means of conveying many of the aspects of the nature of information, and of understanding the role of information in a wide range of applications. An additional specific finding of the work is that information is inherently provisional.

Originality/value - The diagrammatic framework is a new way of presenting, describing and understanding information, and the suggestion that information is inherently provisional is believed to be new.

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