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The Information Professions: Knowledge, memory, heritage

Last updated Oct 21, 2021 Edit Source

Source: The information professions: knowledge, memory, heritage by Marcia Bates

The traditional view of disciplines is that they lie on a spectrum where the study of arts and humanities (disciplines of the cultural record) lie on one end and mathematics and physical sciences on the other (the sciences of information). I’m not sure I fully agree with this, I think the pursuit of knowledge and truth in physical sciences ties very well with the pursuit of documentation within the cultural record and humanities. It would be more of a circle than a spectrum.

Bates proposes meta-disciplines which study the entire spectrum and how they fit together.

Examples of these include information disciplines, communication/journalism, and education.

The fundamental engine of development of this field of information professions is need. 

Human beings want to retain informational resources, and, after a very short time, these resources collect at such a rate that some principles of selection, organization, etc., need to be brought to bear, in order for the resources to continue to be available for effective use.

3 information flow lineages through the history of life on Earth

  1. Genetic, information about the history of life on Earth is literally encoded in your DNA
  2. Neural-cultural, information is passed down between generations through language, storytelling, and sharing
  3. Exosomatic, information is embedded into the world around us through writing, digital systems, desire paths, etc.
  4. Residue, trace/abandoned information degrading back into nature

The storage and management of exosomatic information was one of the major contributors to the exponential growth of human knowledge and power over nature.

Related, information transfer between and within generations


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