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  • Writer's pictureNoni Harrison

Reflection: Information Theory

What is information?

I have not ever considered this question to be so complex. To me, information had always been messages, facts, data, words, symbols and insight needed to develop understanding about a particular thing or to inform and make a decision or draw a conclusion. I generally see this definition as still relevant but I can also see there are other aspects to information that can add to my understanding of this term. Case examines Bateson’s definition of information and concludes that “information is whatever appears significant to a human being” (2006, p.40). So, information exists or has the potential to exist in everything but, crucially, someone must be engage with it for it to be information. It is not information until someone engages with it. Case’s example, “if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to see it, then it conveys no information”, is an effective way of describing information as a broader concept rather than a stagnant definition. As it is so broad, it is difficult to pinpoint one true definition. I agree that information as a concept is a more suitable explanation, as information is different for a variety of professions and people. Much like language and the meaning of messages, I agree with Cornelius in that information is also a social construct, which adds to a person’s understanding and interpretation of a situation or their world (2004). The values and lived experiences that people bring to interpret information and develop understanding effect the existence and meaning of information.

I can clearly see how Buckland’s three categories of information, information-as-process, information-as-knowledge and information-as-thing, relate to the role of a TL and how a TL can use and address these senses of information (Case, 2006, p.44). I think information in these forms exists within school libraries. I feel that students often take in information passively (so, is it information in this instance? Maybe just to teacher or instructor who sees the purpose). As TLs, we need to use strategies to develop the skills of our students and other staff members, to actively engage with information in a critical and useful way.


Case, D. O. (2006). Looking for Information: A Survey of Research on Information Seeking, Needs, and Behavior. Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Retrieved from

Cornelius, I. (2004). Information and its philosophy. Library Trends, 52(3), 377-386.

#case #cornelius #information #reflection

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