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The nature of information in the 21st century: conundrums for the informatics community?

Macgregor, G. (2005) The nature of information in the 21st century: conundrums for the informatics community? Library Review, 54 (1). pp. 10-23. ISSN 0024-2535

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Purpose - With the proliferation of electronic information via the web a further distension of the unique characteristics of information has been witnessed. With seismic developments occurring in such a short period of time, it seems prudent to consider the very nature of information and to assess whether this accelerated growth has implications for the work of the informatics community and the information society. Design/methodology/approach - The paper begins by revisiting and refreshing the unique characteristics of information via a reappraisal of the relevant literature. These characteristics are then contextualised within the new economy and traditional economic theory. Once these unique characteristics have been examined, the author discusses how the nature of information in the twenty-first century presents the informatics community with new and difficult challenges. Findings - The challenges posed by the unique nature of information demand a definite response on the part of the informatics community, including the creation of innovative new models to accommodate information's inherent characteristics. Additionally, as the nature of information evolves yet further and ICT innovations accelerate, ever more adaptable skills will be required by the end user in order that value be derived from information. Practical implications - Outcomes and conclusions addressed in the paper may inform the informatics community generally, but will specifically inform the practice of information managers and librarians, and offer ways of assisting them in arriving at holistic decisions with respect to service provision. Originality/value - The paper is a contribution to the debate on the precise nature of information and offers new perspectives on how the informatics community should view information in the twenty-first century.