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Mingers, John (2014) WHAT IS INFORMATION SUCH THAT THERE CAN BE INFORMATION SYSTEMS? Working paper. Kent Business School (KAR id:43294)


Information systems, as a discipline, is concerned with the generation, storage and transmission of

information, generally by technological means. As such, it would seem to be fundamental that it has

a clear and agreed conceptualization of its core subject matter – namely “information”. Yet, we

would claim, this is clearly not the case. As McKinney and Yoos point out, in a recent survey of the

term information within information systems: “This is the IS predicament – using information as a

ubiquitous label whose meaning is almost never specified. Virtually all the extant IS literature fails to

explicitly specify meaning for the very label that identifies it.” We live in an information age and the

vast majority of information (whatever it may be) is made available through a wide range of

computer systems and one would expect therefore that information systems would in fact be one of

the leading disciplines of the times rather than one that appears to hide itself in the shadows.

Governments nowadays routinely utilize many academic experts to advise them in a whole range of

areas but how many IS professors ever get asked? So, the primary purpose of this paper is to

stimulate a debate within IS to discuss, and try to establish, a secure foundation for the discipline in

terms of its fundamental concept – information. The structure of the paper is that we will firstly

review the theories of information used (generally implicitly) within IS. Then we will widen the

picture to consider the range of theories available more broadly within other disciplines. We will

then suggest a particular approach that we consider most fruitful and discuss some of the major

contentious issues. We will illustrate the theories with examples from IS.

Item Type: Reports and Papers (Working paper)
Uncontrolled keywords: semiotics, information theory, semantics
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Kent Business School - Division > Department of Analytics, Operations and Systems
Depositing User: John Mingers
Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2014 13:56 UTC
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2022 03:05 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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