Information Science – Defining Information Sources and Information Behavior

Information, from a broad perspective, is basically processed, structured and organised data. It gives context to previously processed data and allows decision making on which course of action should be taken. For instance, a single customer’s sale in a particular restaurant is statistical data; this becomes information if the business is able to establish the average or most common dish served. Such a process of data processing is an important part of business and knowledge management. However, information processing itself is a difficult and often poorly understood concept.

This paper seeks to define the concept of information sources, information use and information behavior. A number of constraints are placed on a definition of information sources and the concepts of information use and information behavior are related to each other. In other words, the paper seeks to understand the difference between use and intention in order to highlight the difference between sources of information and the knowledge that they provide. The paper goes on to explain the difference between sources of knowledge that are intentional and systematic and sources of information that are not.

An individual may lack the ability to process and organise information effectively. As a result, that person may lack the knowledge to make informed decisions or even to determine what action should be taken. Such a person may lack the skills necessary to utilise information science to his or her advantage. Such people may lack the ability to use formal information systems and may even be reluctant to engage in information science activities because they believe that the process of information use is too difficult and boring. On the contrary, such people may benefit from engaging in formal information systems and may be able to utilise the benefits and advantages of information science on many different fronts.