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The Question of information

The Question of information

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Published by Aldo Barreto
Information tunes in the world. Whether as a wave or particle it participates in human evolution and revolution as man pursues his destiny. As an organizing element,
information provides man with a point of reference to this destiny; even before he is born, through his genetic identity, and throughout his life by his ability to manipulate information in order to define his own personal odyssey in space and time.
Information tunes in the world. Whether as a wave or particle it participates in human evolution and revolution as man pursues his destiny. As an organizing element,
information provides man with a point of reference to this destiny; even before he is born, through his genetic identity, and throughout his life by his ability to manipulate information in order to define his own personal odyssey in space and time.

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Published by: Aldo Barreto on Sep 23, 2013
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08/11/2014

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The Question of Information*
 
Aldo de Albuquerque Barreto
Senior Research at CNPq, the Brazilian Research Council
Information tunes in the world. Whether as a wave or particle it participates inhuman evolution and revolution as man pursues his destiny. As an organizing element,information provides man with a point of reference to this destiny; even before he is born,through his genetic identity, and throughout his life by his ability to
 
manipulate informationin order to define his own personal odyssey in space and time.The importance of information in the post-industrial world brings up questionsabout its nature, its concept and the benefits it may bring to the individual in his or her relationship with the world around him. Linked as it is with the idea of order anddiminishing uncertainty, information identifies itself with the organization of systems of inanimate entities or of living rational beings. In this article, however, we shall limitourselves to the observations and discussion of characteristics and qualities referring to theinformation phenomenon among human beings, occupying a certain social, political andeconomic space wherein exists an information generating source or emitter, a
 
transferencechannel and a destination or recipient of a message with
 
semantic characteristics.The essence of the information phenomenon has been characterized as theoccurrence of a communication process that takes place between the sender and recipientof the message. Thus, the various concepts of information tend to concentrate on the originand end point of this communication process (Wersig and Neveling, 1975). When oneobserves from the generator side or when there are definitions, such
 
as the structural,indicating that information is the result of the static relation among material objects,
 
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independently of any human action,or when there is a definition relating only to themessage, in which the information is described as symbols produced by a generator to provoke a transference. In these definitions, the recipient of the information is either excluded from the process or is not necessary for 
 
its explanation.Definitions of information, when related to the recipient reinforce the semanticintention of transference, adding the idea of message to the concept, its effective use and theaction resulting from such use. Nevertheless, it is the definitions which relate information to the production of knowledge in the individual, that best explain the nature of the information phenomenon, in
finalistic terms, associating it with the individual’s development and liberty, his immediate
group and society as a whole. Here information is qualified as a modifying instrument of theconsciousness of the person and his or her group. It ceases to be a measure of organizationto become the organization itself; it is knowledge, which occurs if the information is perceived and accepted as such and places the individual in a better stage of living with himor herself and within the world where his or her individual history evolves.When information is adequately assimilated it produces knowledge, modifies the
individual’s mental store of information a
nd benefits his development and that of the societyin which he lives. Thus, as the mediating agent in the production of knowledge, theinformation qualifies itself, in form and substance, as significant structures able to generateknowledge for the individual and his group.The question that arises here is how to work with information as significantstructures in the sense of directing it to its proper end of producing knowledge for society.How is information to be organized, controlled and disseminated in a correct manner considering its intervention in the producing knowledge?
INFORMATION PRODUCTION
 The production of information, defined by us as significant structures, functions bymeans of well-defined practices and bases itself on a transformation process guided by a
 
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technical rationality that is specific to it; it represents activities that are related toinformation gathering, selection, coding, reduction, classification and storage. All theseactivities are aimed at the organization and control of 
information stores,
for immediate or future use. This repository of information represents a potential store of knowledge and isindispensable so that this occurs in the process of transfer of information. Nevertheless,since it is static, it does not, of itself, produce any knowledge. The meaningful structures thatare stored in data bases, libraries, archives or museums can produce knowledge, but becomeeffective only through an act of communication that is mutually agreed between the sourceand the receiver. Production of stores of information, however, does not have a direct andfinal commitment to production of knowledge, which fact allows development at differentlevels.The information production industry has developed alongside the industrial andexpansion revolutions and has absorbed some of their major features. The generation of information stores has adopted productivity and technical precepts as its own workingmethod. The growing production of information must be gathered and stored in an efficientway, according to productivity criteria in storage, or rather, the largest amount of informational structures must be placed in the smallest possible space within cost efficiencylimits. In this process, techniques are used that are appropriate for information structuralreduction. This condensation is a semiotic reduction of the content and of the competence of the information structures for generating knowledge. New languages codes are used in thisreduction process, languages that have been created by the transforming instruments of theinformation industry; the reduction process is further potentiated by the syntacticrequirements of the physical storage medium. Thus the universe of the natural humanlanguage is reduced, which references the meaningful competence of information with the production of knowledge. This technical attitude certainly represents a policy and economicdecision on the part of information producers.The information industry is organized and differentiated by the degree of its technicalorganization and control of its information stores, as well as by the political and economicmanipulation of these stores. Thus, institutional information stores, processed, managed andcontrolled for policy and economic use, constitute an
infocontext 
existing with
 
and

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