What is Information science?


I’m asked this regularly. Working in a data environment, as I do, colleagues are often quick to lug Information science in with Data science, or assume these terms are interchangeable. Though often complementary to Data science, Information science is a specialism entirely of itself. Once a discipline primarily concerned with Archiving, Records Management and Libraries, Information science is furthermore a legal, ethical and social study of information, and covers any industry or discipline where information is being stored and/or used, including the technologies, systems and processes surrounding said information.

As the societal development of information changes, Information science tries to explore the: creation, recording, analysis, storage, retrieval, distribution, protection, exploitation and measurement of information. It is concerned with the social and economic impact, legal and regulatory context, and the influence of information on people, business and society.

Information science is both a broad and interdisciplinary field, incorporating aspects of: Mathematics, Public Policy, Cognitive science, Informatics, Communications, Social science, Computer science, Linguistics, Engineering and Museology…to name a mere few.

One of the best early definitions of Information science comes from the mid-1960s. Prominent Scientist, Harold Borko said: “Information science is that discipline that investigates the properties and behaviour of information, the forces governing the flow of information, and the means of processing information for optimum accessibility and usability. It is concerned with the body of knowledge relating to the origination, collection, organization, storage, retrieval, interpretation, transmission, and utilization of information.”

Sources: Borko, H. (1968). Information science: What is it? American Documentation, 19, 3. (http://cdigital.uv.mx/bitstream/123456789/6699/2/Borko.pdf) | Image (https://stephanthieringer.wordpress.com/tag/library-and-information-science/)