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1 About “information” Vrije Universiteit Brussel Informatie- en Bibliotheekwetenschap, Universitaire Instelling Antwerpen.

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Presentation on theme: "1 About “information” Vrije Universiteit Brussel Informatie- en Bibliotheekwetenschap, Universitaire Instelling Antwerpen."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 About “information” Vrije Universiteit Brussel Informatie- en Bibliotheekwetenschap, Universitaire Instelling Antwerpen België For UNESCO-ODINAFRICA-MIM May 2002

2 2 About “information” Introductory concepts about information ****

3 3 Our world: future trends Future trends in our world Complexity  Dynamics and evolution  Speed and acceleration  Internationalization  Globalization  Economic products less based on natural resources and more on “knowledge” Answers / Requirements / Solutions / Reactions Knowledge and skills  Adaptability  Flexibility  Global co-operation  Mobility  Education, research, exploitation of knowledge is important ***-

4 !? Question !? Task !? Problem !? Compare “information” for instance with “bananas”. ***- 4

5 5 i Information: some strange properties (Part 1) Information is never consumed and does not deteriorate. However, nevertheless information becomes obsolete; speed of delivery can be crucial. The context is important. There is no agreed measure of a unit of information. The price of an information item is not well linked to its value in a particular situation. Moreover, one cannot well quantify the benefit/value of information. ***-

6 6 i Information: some strange properties (Part 2) One information item can be available to different persons at the same time. Information can be well reproduced, which makes it cheap for wide consumption. However, copyright can keep the price high. ***-

7 7 i Information sources: people and documents Information sources come essentially in two formats: »less formal: people communicating by —telephone —electronic mail,… »more formal: documents such as —hard copy documents —electronic, digital documents; computer-based files Here we focus mainly on information that is stored in documents.

8 8 The flow of documentary information through many channels Reader/ User / Receiver Many media / channels **** Author / Creator / Sender Author / Creator / Sender

9 9 The flow of documentary information with primary and secondary sources Reader/ User / Receiver Secondary sources / systems: mainly Reference works (printed, CD-ROM, online) Library catalogues, including OPACs... Secondary sources / systems: mainly Reference works (printed, CD-ROM, online) Library catalogues, including OPACs... **** Author / Creator / Sender Author / Creator / Sender Primary sources / systems: mainly Journal articles / Books / Electronic mail / Online sources /... Primary sources / systems: mainly Journal articles / Books / Electronic mail / Online sources /...

10 !? Question !? Task !? Problem !? Why is secondary information created? **** 10

11 11 i The role of secondary information sources The secondary information flow is generated on the basis of the primary flow, mainly because the great amounts of primary information lower the chance to retrieve and use the appropriate information item. Secondary information tries to bring some order in the great chaos. ****

12 12 Various categorisations of documentary information sources Information sources can be categorised in various ways. For instance: **** Primary Secondary Hard copy / not digital Digital Offline Online Text Image Sound Software Data Interactive Books Serials

13 !? Question !? Task !? Problem !? Explain that the distinction between books and serials is not sharp. **-- 13

14 14 i ***- Documentary information sources: books versus serials Two types of documents are usually distinguished, irrespective of the subject of their contents: »Books, monographs, in most cases with their International Standard Book Number (ISBN) »Serials, serial publications, periodicals, journals, newsletters, in most cases with an International Standard Serials Number (ISSN) (However, the distinction is not sharp: some books belong to a series and in some cases they carry an ISBN as well as an ISSN.)

15 !? Question !? Task !? Problem !? Which criteria do you know for the evaluation of the quality of a documentary information source? **** 15

16 16 i Documentary information sources: criteria to evaluate their quality (1) In view of the widely varying degrees of quality of information sources on the one hand, and of the costs associated with using information on the other hand, we should always be critical. Some evaluation criteria: »Is the information valid, reliable, trustworthy, genuine, authentic? Is the author honest? »Is the information accurate, correct? ****

17 17 i Documentary information sources: criteria to evaluate their quality (2) »Has the source an author with a high expertise and a good reputation? »Is the information source unique? Does it offer a great amount of primary information, which is not obtainable from other sources? »Is the information complete? Is the work available in its entirety? »Does the source offer a wide coverage? Is the source comprehensive, substantive? ****

18 18 i Documentary information sources: criteria to evaluate their quality (3) »Is the source objective, without bias? »Is the information current, up to date? »Good clear format and lay-out of the information / User-friendly information system / Easy for users to orientate themselves within the resource and to find their way around it? »Good user support / Good customer support? »Appropriate type of distribution medium? (print, , online,...) ****

19 19 i Why do researchers want to communicate and publish? **-- To share their data and ideas with other members of their research community To advance their own careers

20 20 i Which publication media are preferred by authors? **-- Good publication media reach a large fraction of the relevant community possess a high prestige within that community

21 21 Past Now Future i Retrospective searching versus current awareness: scheme **** Retrospective searching Current awareness

22 22 i Retrospective searching versus current awareness: the basics ***- Searching for suitable information takes the form of retrospective searching mainly when we enter a new, unknown field or subject domain where we need supporting information. Once that we have found enough information, we need to keep aware of new information because we are always challenged »by the continuous flow of newly generated information and »by the changing environment in which we work and live.

23 23 i What is a current awareness service? ***- A service which provides the recipient with information on the latest developments within the subject areas in which he/she has a specific interest or need to know. Aims: »Saving time »Covering many information sources »...

24 !? Question !? Task !? Problem !? Give examples of current awareness services. **-- 24

25 !? Question !? Task !? Problem !? Give evaluation criteria for current awareness services. **-- 25

26 26 i Current awareness services: considerations / evaluation criteria ***- Same criteria as for information sources in general + Frequency / timeliness / currency of the service Mechanism for creating user interest profiles + user interface In the case of bibliographic services: associated full document / full text delivery service

27 27 i Information retrieval: evolution of storage and distribution media **** 1450printing with reusable characters/fonts online access databases from the 1970sgrowing Internet CD-ROM World-Wide Web (based on the Internet)

28 28 Information retrieval: end user or information intermediaries End-user Information intermediary (Broker or library or...) Information ****

29 29 i End user versus information intermediary People can retrieve information themselves, directly as so- called “end-users”. However, »the information landscape is complex, »it may cost a lot of the time to find the right information, »it may be costly to search for information Therefore it may be wise to obtain the assistance of an expert information intermediary, such a a reference librarian or an information broker. ****

30 30 i Information retrieval: presentation of the results The presentation to the user of information retrieved should ideally be eye-catching easy to read laid out in a standard format fully referenced... ***-

31 31 About “information” Computer- and network-based information ****

32 32 Information: from bits to meaningful information Digital computer data = bits or 01 Program code, meaningful for and to be interpreted / executed by a suitable / compatible computer Information = “documents”, meaningful for and to be interpreted by human beings ****

33 33 Information: digitally stored and managed information Categories of digital, computer readable information / data, forming electronic “documents”, understandable by human beings. 01 text numbers images video sounds multimedia + ****

34 34 01 Digital information Multimedia / Hypermedia Information: types of digital information Linear text Hypertext Static images Video Sound Programs for computers ****

35 35 **** Online / Networked CD-ROM Update speed Volume Some publication media compared Printed

36 !? Question !? Task !? Problem !? What can you conclude from the comparison of the publication media print, CD-ROM and online? **-- 36

37 37 Electronic publishing: some meanings of the term Author / producer Reader / User Computerized database Published database: CD-ROM floppy disk magnetic tape online access ftp archives Printed documents Desktop publishing Computerized typesetting Distribution Access Reading Using Transfer Reproduction Sorting Formatting / Lay-out Distribution Storage Buying Lending Reading Creation of input Selecting Downloading Sorting Formatting **--

38 38 Electronic publishing: evolutionary stages ***- To produce print on paper, using computers Dual mode: on paper and as database Simulation of print on computer display Repackaging of data for computer display (e.g. text to hypermedia) Creation by author directly for the computer (hypermedia) and no printed version

39 39 !? Question !? Task !? Problem !? Which problems and advantages do you see in electronic publishing? **--

40 40  Electronic publishing: technological problems (Part 1) **-- Lack of access to technological infrastructure (computers, peripherals, and networks) by potential readers/users. Computer or network downtime can hinder access to information. Some information technology expertise and skills are required.

41 41  Electronic publishing: technological problems (Part 2) **-- Low quality of the computer interface most computer displays are less attractive than printed papers and cause eyestrain Long times required to download information in particular when slow or saturated or unreliable networks are used

42 42  Electronic publishing: social problems (Part 1) **-- The reward system for the author is traditionally based on printed publications. = Electronic publications are not (yet) accepted as credible by many in academic circles. chicken-and-egg situation Lack of a good, cheap, universal indexing system to index electronic publications. Reluctance of many users to pay for electronic information.

43 43  Electronic publishing: social problems (Part 2) **-- The ease of copying creates opportunity for plagiarism. Mutability of the publication / Difficulty in establishing authenticity and authorship / Version control /... Technologies such as digital signatures exist, but acceptance and implementation is slow; changes in contents should be avoided to ensure that a particular archived publication can be referred to.

44 44 Publications on CD-ROM or online: advantages compared with hard copy ***- Can be cheaper to produce, to transport and to store. Can offer better search features. Can offer various output formats. Can offer fast and efficient “copy and paste” by the reader/user of information to other documents. Taken together, these features allow more efficient access to large, high volume documents or databases.

45 45 Publications on CD-ROM or online: advantages compared with hard copy **-- Can offer multimedia and hypermedia contents, such as animation, video, static and dynamic virtual reality (instead of only formatted text and numbers plus graphics). Can offer “active contents” = accompanying / embedded programs to view / manipulate / manage / order / select the data / information / contents.

46 46 Publications online: advantages compared with hard copy **-- Allows publishers faster, more up-to-date publication = allows readers access to more current information. Allows access from any place connected to the network. Allows permanent access, 24 hours/day. Avoids loss and theft of information stored in hard copy material. continued….

47 47 Publications online: advantages compared with hard copy **-- Allows access to the same information by many users at the same time. Allows faster access. Allows the collection of usage statistics. In the case of journals: allows payment for articles (items) that you read/use only, instead of payment of a flat subscription fee....

48 48 Publications online in WWW: advantages compared with hard copy **-- Allows documents with hyperlinks to other WWW documents on the network, even on other server computers. Allows inclusion of the documents by any WWW- indexing system in a searchable full-text index. Allows efficient application of meta-information related to the documents, embedded in the documents or stored on other server computers.

49 49 Publications online in WWW: advantages compared with hard copy **-- Allows a good integration with other network services like and Usenet. Allows better communication: »comments can be added to an electronic publication at any time after it is put into the system and these comments can be read together, by subsequent readers »allows easy and fast contact with author(s) by , if needed

50 50 Publications online in WWW: advantages compared with hard copy **-- Allows extending “documents” to hybrid online services + documents + databases, »which can execute programs —on the server (using CGI, for instance), or —on the client computer (using viewer programs, or plug-in programs or Java programs or ActiveX programs), and »which can use information stored in the network, even on other server computers.

51 51 Convergence of media to computer-based communication Already based on computers and networks: »CD-ROM / DVD / Hypermedia / Remote login into a computer / File transfer from a computer / Electronic mail / Usenet / the World-Wide Web... Evolving towards a computer- and network-based technology: »Telephone / Radio / Television / Video / Fax / Journals / Books /... ***-

52 52 Scientific publishing in Utopia: an ideal scheme Many authors Many readers / users Many editors / publishers Online remote access multimedia database server Many database search clients and user interfaces Many database search clients and user interfaces one global, international computer data communication network author = reader in science ****

53 53 !? Question !? Task !? Problem !? Indicate the differences between reality and that simplified, ideal scheme of the information flow. ****

54 54 !? Question !? Task !? Problem !? Which basic problems/difficulties hinder people to find / access / use information? ****

55 55 i Information retrieval: basic difficulties (Part 1) **** In many cases it is not completely clear to the user of an information retrieval system which information is in fact needed, required. In many cases the need for information cannot be expressed completely in the form of a query. One of the reasons is that the complete context of the information need should ideally be expressed, including the knowledge and background of the searcher.

56 56 i Information retrieval: basic difficulties (Part 2) **** Computer systems are artificial, but nevertheless most use human language in their interface with the human users, for instance in database search systems. This may cause difficulties related to language and vocabulary in particular. Some examples: People use different languages and different terms (vocabularies) to describe a similar concept. Concepts, vocabularies and meanings of words and terms may change over time. Meanings of words / terms may depend on their context.

57 57 i Information retrieval: basic difficulties (Part 3) **** Many different and imperfect retrieval systems should or must be used. »To retrieve and access the information that is in principle available, many different retrieval systems must be available and be mastered. »Furthermore, a perfect information retrieval software does not (yet) exist; scientific and technological evolution is fast in the domain of information retrieval software since about 1970.

58 58 i Information retrieval: basic difficulties (Part 4) **** Information overload Users are often overwhelmed by the amount of available information and by the large influx of new information.

59 59 i Information retrieval: basic difficulties (Part 5) **** The price (or inaccessibility) of particular information A lot of information cannot be obtained or at least not free of charge.

60 60 Information retrieval: browsing and searching as methods To make information available, the producer of an information system can offer to the user basically two different ways for retrieval of the right information from the system: »by browsing or »by searching. ***-

61 61 Browsing a logically ordered list of terms Logical order / Sorted by subject Table of contents Classification Hypertext-Hypermedia: jump from a page to a linked page Searching by submitting a search term to the system Alphabetical order / Not sorted by subject Alphabetical index Thesaurus Hypertext-Hypermedia: search built in a page Information retrieval: browsing versus searching ***-

62 62 Information retrieval: browsing systems support In browsing systems, the user can follow some of the paths offered by the system. The information is ordered, according to subject for instance. The user does not have to use his own words to indicate his needs. ***-

63 63 Information retrieval: browsing systems To support organising and browsing of information items, some type of classification is applied in many cases. ***-

64 64 Information retrieval: examples of browsing systems Examples of browsing systems are »a table of contents in the front part of a book, »a set of books placed on shelves according to some classification system, »a hypertext hierarchical directory on the WWW, or more generally all hypermedia systems. ***-

65 65 Information retrieval: search systems In search systems, the user has to express his need for information by formulating a query that is normally using a natural language or a more formal language. In this case the information is normally not ordered according to some logic, but in most cases in the form of a well structured compilation of items of a similar form, in the form of the records of a database when a computer system is applied. ***-

66 66 Information retrieval: search systems support To support searching by avoiding some of the difficulties caused by the use of natural language for retrieval purposes, a list of controlled keywords or a thesaurus or an ontology are applied in many cases. ***-

67 67 Information retrieval: examples of search systems Examples of search systems are »the index (the register) in the back part of a book, »a library or museum catalogue with a search interface, »a search form on a web page. ***-

68 68 !? Question !? Task !? Problem !? Give some examples of concrete information systems that use browsing or keyword searching respectively. ***-

69 69 !? Question !? Task !? Problem !? List and discuss the advantages and problems of browsing and keyword searching respectively. ***-

70 70 i Advantages: »Browsing is relatively easy for the user.  Difficulties for the user: »Allows the user to explore the information space by roads constructed based on the view of the world of the system designers, and not based on his own view.  Difficulties for the producer: »It is relatively costly to construct an information system based on browsing. Information retrieval: pro and contra of browse systems ***-

71 71 i Advantages: »Creation of keyword indexes for fast searching is relatively simple and cheap and can be automated.  Difficulties for the user: »Searching is hindered by vocabulary / language problems. »The users cannot always fully articulate their needs. Information retrieval: pro and contra of search systems ***-


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