Information science is an interdisciplinary field primarily concerned with the analysis, collection, classification, manipulation, storage, retrieval, movement, dissemination, and protection of information. Practitioners within the field study the application and usage of knowledge in organizations, along with the interaction between people, organizations , and any existing information systems, with the aim of creating, replacing, improving, or understanding information systems.
Information science is often (mistakenly) considered a branch of Library science; however, it predates computer science and is actually a broad, interdisciplinary field, incorporating not only aspects of computer science but often diverse fields such as archival science, cognitive science, commerce, communications, law, library science, museology, management, mathematics, philosophy, public policy, and the social sciences. Information science should not be confused with information theory or library science.
Information theory is the study of a particular mathematical concept of information. Information science as an academic discipline is often taught in combination with Library science as Library and Information Science. Library science, as such, is a field related to the dissemination of information through libraries making use of the principles of information science. Information science deals with all the processes and techniques pertaining to the information life cycle, including capture, generation, packaging, dissemination, transformation, refining, repackaging, usage, storage, communication, protection, presentation, etc., in any possible manner.
Information Science and Anthropology
Information science and anthropology intersect in various ways, creating a fruitful area for collaboration and study. Here’s how the two fields can relate:
- Study of Knowledge Systems: Both information scientists and anthropologists are concerned with how knowledge is categorized, stored, and disseminated. Anthropologists can apply information science techniques to understand how different cultures organize and access knowledge, while information scientists can benefit from anthropological insights into the human factors influencing information usage.
- Human-Computer Interaction (HCI): Information science often involves the design of systems that are user-friendly and culturally appropriate. Anthropological research on human behavior and cultural norms can provide essential insights to guide this design process.
- Ethnographic Methods: Anthropologists often use ethnographic methods to understand the context and the cultural aspects of human life. These methods can be applied in information science to understand how people interact with information systems in real-life settings.
- Digital Humanities: In the field of digital humanities, information science techniques are used to digitize and analyze cultural artifacts, texts, and historical records. Anthropologists can utilize these methods to preserve and study cultural heritage, while also contributing their understanding of social contexts.
- Cross-Cultural Studies: Information systems must often be designed for use across various cultural contexts. Anthropologists, with their nuanced understanding of cultural differences, can help information scientists ensure that systems are adaptable and sensitive to varying cultural norms and practices.
- Ethical Considerations: Both fields are concerned with ethical considerations, such as privacy, accessibility, and the potential cultural impact of information dissemination. Collaborative efforts can lead to more holistic approaches to ethical issues in information handling and technology design.
Yhe relationship between information science and anthropology is multifaceted and synergetic. While information science provides tools and techniques for handling information, anthropology offers context and insights into the human condition. Together, they can lead to more effective, ethical, and culturally sensitive information systems and policies.