The Phenomenon of Information: A Conceptual Approach to Information Flow

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Such questions usually arise in some magazine or TV show, and the questioners are generally surprised if I do not know the answer! Geographic research could only be characterized by this descriptive feature for a long time 1. These events in the history of mankind can characteristically be linked to colonization or the great geographic discoveries.

The exploitation of the natural resources of the area required a thorough knowledge of physical geography, while the conquest of the population of the conquered areas as well as the maintenance of domination mainly demanded knowledge of social and economic geography. However, the three-part question what, where and why? True enough that the content of the answer depends on the number of the members of each social group, the size of the geographical area they occupy and the technique of conveying information its quantitative and qualitative features , but the question can be answered.

In the primitive communal system, a group of the size of a horde had some ten members. This is the lowest level of the levels of needs 4.

Since man is basically a social being, the individual questioning and answering can only be interpreted in the initial phase if somebody from the group finds out the solution. A short time after this, he or she conveys the information gained to the other members of the group.

The appearance of a new phenomenon in geographic thinking: the influence of ICT

Otherwise it is not only the geographical pieces of information gained that get isolated from each other but answering the third question also becomes uncertain due to the disintegration of social cohesion — essentially the collective information-database 5. The greater a community is, the more difficult it becomes to maintain homeostasis. Nowadays it is provided by global ICT networks — and the organizations related to these.

Some consider this as a kind of technological determinism which mankind must go through Hoyer, In accordance with most researchers, however, I would rather argue for the neutrality of technological devices 6. The advancement of society and the ethos accepted about the geographical environment surrounding society are naturally determined not only by the size of populations, but by the cultural standard or the technological development itself.

The situation is more complex than this. We should imagine such a cyclical process in which cultural and educational development determines technological development, which determines economic development, which determines social development, which then determines cultural and educational development, etc Z. Karvalics, ; Castells, For instance, phenomena such as the plains fertilized as a result of flooding rivers, a volcanic eruption or the changes in the water-level of the sea can be described with a sequence of measurable and mathematically calculable physical processes.

The answers provided from a religious point of view — determined by one divinity or another —, however, significantly simplify the explanations of certain phenomena. It can also be stated that geographical thinking results in answers much simpler, easier and more schematized within a religious-mythological frame, since the answers are assigned to one or more than one divinity, who simply arrange them using their divine power 7.


The developed world educated by the European culture, however, prefers answers that fit in the rational-logical frame. The roots of this can primarily be found in the flourishing Greek culture 8. This type of traditional geographical thinking existed mainly in the 19th, partly until the middle of the 20th century. The primary reason for this is that geography was not an independent science until the 19th century 9.

New branches of science emerged from geography, which had been considered as associate science until that time, and geography preserved its descriptive character. The answers to the whys and explanations with scientific demand were given by the new branch of geography, quantitative geography From the s on, the view of systems related to this becomes stronger and stronger. This is what becomes dominant in geographical researches, too: the study of spatial systems Within geography, in fact, an unlimited number of systems may be created, although it becomes unworkable.

In order to solve this insolvable problem — according to which quantitative geography should explain and describe our chaotic world with the help of the theory of systems — model-creation so-called model-geography was born. In the quantitative models based on strict mathematical and mainly economic laws it is space that shapes man, and man obeys the laws of the geographical environment. In the rationally designed space man is also shapable, which was in perfect harmony with the ideology of the era after World War II.

The reason why this direction could not stay dominant was that geography did not free itself only from extreme verbalism — due to the quantitative revolution —, but it also ignored the main character of spatial processes: man. Quantitative geographical ideology was replaced by human-centred geographical ideology. The scientific studies of geography have been based on this for the past two thousand years.

As opposed to this, the papers published after the s present a subjective interpretation of space, its unique mental mapping The behaviourist revolution, the modern revival of geography has not yet been completed. From the second half of the 20th century, human-centred geographical directions have been born as the spatial behaviour, space-forming activity and space-forming role of man have been placed in the foreground The direction which is the same age as the behaviourist revolution, but which flourished at the turn of the 20th and the 21st centuries, is the geography of the information society.

The bases of one of the youngest research direction, which seems to permanently stay in the centre of attention, were undoubtedly laid down by quantitative analysts. At present in Hungary, the study of the information society by geographical ideology is not entirely neglected, but leastways it mirrors the field of interest of a restricted professional circle Nevertheless, the professional discourse has begun, and, although it is most frequently sociological, philosophical and technological approaches that are presented, the geography of the information society, as well as its new kind of methodology, terminology and typology are taking form.

Geographers are trying to define the processes-phenomena in both the physical and the virtual world, and to describe the relation of geography to the information society, as a research area. The marriage with psychology made the interdi sciplinary state of the science even stronger, the openness with which it is capable of incorporating and fertilizing new things.

The child has been named behaviourist geography Compared to quantitative ideology, the human-centred geography provided new answers. Naturally, it is not possible to approach and explain everything from the aspect of perception and sensation.

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After perception, the information perceived is handled — according to individual schemata —, which leads to a much more subjective mental image about our environment it is essentially a cognitive map We create a unique mental image about the world around us using the information gathered from our environment. This mental image of the world formed in us determines our decisions, i.

  1. Excerpts From The Alleys Of My Mind.
  2. (PDF) Information Flow | Julio Ostalé -
  3. Flow (psychology) - Wikipedia.
  4. Our activities change our environment, too. Therefore, the process is nothing other than a cycle that never returns to itself.


    The mental image created about our geographical environment is not only determined by perception itself, but also by the number of people who perceive a given space and by the kind of ethos that is formed for a given community about it. It is not the perception of the individual, but that of the group that becomes dominant. The mental image created about the environment is the product of a community. The information gathered and evaluated by the individuals are added by each group in the community, the whole society forms one information community Table 1: Eras, societies, kinds of ethos.

    Karvalics, ; Sinka, This also means that the population-groups organized in the relative space, and their distribution in the geographical environment determines the kind of ethos that is formed in the given group. The contrary may also be true. The ethos of a relatively small community organized in a developed society may significantly differ from the average, which is typically associated with spatial isolation The permanent or ad hoc relative spatial shapes of the population-groups are determined by the physical and virtual features of the information networks from physical aspect technological determinism.


    From the aspect of the community, these are determined by the number of the members of the population who possess a suitable interface human interface A new research area does not directly involve a change of paradigm, but it requires the extension of the existing terminology and typology.

    Geography has also created its own terminology during its development. Among these, the concepts probably most frequently used by researchers during their work are: place, location and space. These concepts are interesting because they are also part of the ordinary language.

    Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (JASIST)

    Their development and interpretation progressed simultaneously with the advancement of human thinking and human societies. Social changes do not leave spatial processes unaffected, either; in addition, professional- and scientific fields that had not even existed before are beginning to use newer and newer geographical terms the application of which would have at least been considered heresy earlier.

    The discourse of the geographical terms and terminology of the informational era started in the past few decades. Due to the almost 5-million-year development of geographical thinking and the more than two-thousand-year advancement of the science of geography, geography — it seems at least — slowly finds itself again. The central question is the spreading rate, role and weight, spatial orientation and dynamics of the new info-communication technology ICT — Information and Communication Technologies : ICT as the infrastructure of the global information society.

    These research findings only rarely affect the positive-negative effects of the spreading of this technology in the way as the society, individual, natural environment or economy. They do not mention the changes in quality and space, either. The most important set of questions is centred on the role ICT plays in production, its internal convergence, the weight of human resources using such technology, the appearance of new type of trades and knowledge related to it.

    The interdependency between the culture diffused by the economy and the media becomes stronger, the vapour of which precipitates as the determinant process of the society of the informational era. People change their habits, modify their social relations, take up new customs in the field of e.

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    It is no wonder, then, that in the literature, much confusion has appeared about the exact meaning of using information Bouazza , Dunn How should we understand this description, for example: ' information use is that seeking behavior that leads to the use of information in order to meet an individual's needs ' Bouazza : In it, the use of information is not only two separate stages of the same process, but the latter one is not even defined.

    Dunn and Larsen imply that empirical attempts to measure the ambiguous and poorly understood phenomenon exactly have led to incomparable and conflicting research results. Thus, the research area has lacked unity Holzner and Fisher There is no single right definition for the use of information, but it can be understood in many different ways Kirk , Savolainen c.

    Earlier, such ideas have been treated of by at least Kari , Kirk , Machlup , Maybee , , Meyer , Savolainen , a , and Ward In all of these sources, the examination has remained more or less limited, however, probably due to a narrow focus or the material used. In the case of information use, terminological problems are also big, because kindred expressions such as knowledge use, information use, knowledge utilization, information utilization , and information processing are synonymously, and their meaning is often not clarified e.

    The widely varying language makes it difficult or impossible to compare the essential differences in the concepts, estimates Dunn However, we should not stay on the level of mere words in our examination, but should go beyond them and concentrate on the concept, in other words on what those words refer to. We must be careful in each case when choosing and defining the term.

    The article uses information use as a general term, but the next section will introduce more exact terms which reflect the different understandings of information use. Without this kind of a holistic language, the confusions and misunderstandings which afflict the study of information use would only continue Larsen Therefore, the task of this paper is to conceptualize the use of information: what does it really mean?

    The objective is to go through all the different notions of information use, and thereby lay bare their diversity. The analysis is mainly based on research literature in the field of information studies. The Library and Information Science Abstracts database was searched for publications by using certain keywords information use and knowledge use ' and quality peer-reviewed articles and books from scientific publishers as selection criteria.

    Someone might argue that the literature search was too narrow: what about other fields like reading research? While it is true that the search focused on the designated core area as outlined above , following up references in the literature led to the discovery of additional sources in neighbouring areas. Cook and Brown , for example, discuss information use in terms of epistemic work see below.

    Such instances enrich our understanding of information use.

    Diversity in the conceptions of information use

    The conceptions of information use covered in this article are categories which were inductively formed based on the written material. By appealing to holism, Hughes proposes that as a multifaceted experience, the use of information covers the user's behaviour, connecting to the information source , searching for information, information skills, utilizing information, information literacy, information needs, context, reactions and effects, as well as results of learning.

    Hughes does not justify in more detail why the concept should be defined so broadly. Of course, the use of information is an informational phenomenon, but so are many others, too. Let us embark on studying what more limited and thus more realistic meanings have been ascribed to information use, and what features each class of information use exhibits Larsen In this general class, the use of information can be characterized as intellectual activity which is manifested through various thoughts and deeds Limberg Correspondingly, by following ideas proposed by Cook and Brown, information use may be understood as epistemic knowledge work which is done as a natural part of action or practice, for example when estimating the relevance of work-related information that has been retrieved from the Web Savolainen a.

    In Maybee's interview study, four different ways to understand the use of information were found. From one of them, one can get a fairly good, general idea of what kinds of function can belong to information use. In it, the participants experienced the use of information as building a knowledge base which can then be used for different purposes. The information uses contained decision-making and problem-solving, forming a personal point of view, sharing the information to others, and creating new knowledge.

    The properties described in the knowlegde base category were directed at the need to understand the viewpoint of the information provider. However, the primary focus of the consciousness structure was on how the information is utilized, and building one's knowledge base was secondary.

    The Phenomenon of Information: A Conceptual Approach to Information Flow The Phenomenon of Information: A Conceptual Approach to Information Flow
    The Phenomenon of Information: A Conceptual Approach to Information Flow The Phenomenon of Information: A Conceptual Approach to Information Flow
    The Phenomenon of Information: A Conceptual Approach to Information Flow The Phenomenon of Information: A Conceptual Approach to Information Flow
    The Phenomenon of Information: A Conceptual Approach to Information Flow The Phenomenon of Information: A Conceptual Approach to Information Flow
    The Phenomenon of Information: A Conceptual Approach to Information Flow The Phenomenon of Information: A Conceptual Approach to Information Flow

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