Is Knowledge Organization = Information Organization?

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Nov 6, 2013 (3 years and 8 months ago)

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Is Knowledge
Organization =
Information Organization?


Paper
presented

at
the 12th International ISKO Conference
Mysore
,
India, 6
-
9
August
2012.

(
Tuesday
, 07th August
2012
10.00
-
10.30 AM, Track
A, Auditorium
)




Birger Hjørland

1

1. Introduction



We are participating in an ISKO conference (International
Society for Knowledge Organization). Here the term
Knowledge Organization
(KO) is being used.

Sometimes, however, the term
information organization
(IO) is being used. This is the case, for example, in
Svenonius
’ well known monograph (2000)
The intellectual
foundation of information organization
. Also, for example,
at the School of Information Studies at the University of
Wisconsin
-
Milwaukee the name of the subject has
recently changed from KO to IO.

2

1

1. Introduction

We may therefore ask:


Is
Knowledge Organization = Information Organization?


Are KO and IO synonyms?

In addressing this issue, my aim is twofold:

1) to argue which term should be preferred as label.

2) To provide a theoretical basis for answering the general
question:
When should two concepts be considered
synonyms
?



1

3

2. Etymology and conceptual analysis?

Intuitively one might perhaps respond: The word
”knowledge” and the word ”information” are two different
words with different meanings. For this reason KO and IO
cannot be synonyms.

We might look up the meanings of the words “knowledge”
and “information” in dictionaries, encyclopedias (or the hard
way: studying the theoretical literature on each concept).

There has been (and may still be somewhere) a belief that
the true meaning of terms may be found by studying their
original meaning (i.e., their etymology) or in their inherent
(a priori) meaning.



1

4

2. Etymology and conceptual analysis?

Today the etymological method of establishing the meaning
of terms is generally seen as problematic. Users of
language are not necessarily committed by the origin of a
word or how it has formerly been used. Scientific terms
change meaning with scientific theories. Basic physical
concepts, for example, do not have the same meaning in
the physics of Aristotle and Newton.

Conceptual analysis as
a
priori
definition of
concepts
(Hanna
,
1998) is a
philosophical approach
that came
under
heavy criticism, and
by the
end of the 1970s
was
widely
regarded as
defunct.

1

5

2. Etymology and conceptual analysis?

Conceptual analysis also seems to be an insufficient
method because the meaning of
terms changes
with
scientific
theories.

We cannot, therefore, expect to find the true meanings of
the words “knowledge” and “information” by etymological or
by a priory philosophical analysis. We have to consider
their meaning in relation to the scientific theories of which
they form parts.

What kind of theoretical role do the concepts of knowledge
and information play in library and information science and
in KO?

1

6

3. ”Information” and ”knowledge” in
LIS

I have been writing about the concept of information in LIS
for a long time and cannot go deep into this issue here. The
term came into LIS with the computer, but has in my
opinion never been theoretically well supported. I
agree
with
Furner
(2004
) that we could very well have
“Information
studies without
information”!

Often our concepts seem unfortunately to reflect what
Konrad

(
2007)
termed
“poor terminological hygiene
”.

1

7

3. ”information” and ”knowledge” in
LIS

Zins

(2006) suggested “Redefining information science:
From information science to knowledge science”. That
would indeed point to KO instead of IO as the preferred
name for our field. I do not think it would be wise to follow
Zins

suggestion because:

1.
The terminology is confused enough already;

2.
There are already other disciplines devoted to the study
of knowledge (e.g. “theory of knowledge”, sociology of
knowledge and “science studies”).

3.
Information science/LIS is primarily about documented
knowledge (documents).


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8

4. Consistent patterns of use?

Wittgenstein defined the meaning of terms as their use: In
order to define a term you must study how it is used. I have
made a study in the Social
SciSearch

of four terms:



Information organization (IO),



Organization of information (OI),



Information architecture (IA) and



Knowledge organization (KO)

Each

term

studied

both

in

the

whole

database

and

in

the

part

limited

to

LIS
.

For

each

term

and

each

database

were

ranked

1
)

the

most

cited

authors

2
)

the

most

cited

journals

or

works

and

3
)

the

most

cited

references
.



1

9

4. Consistent patterns of use?



Knowledge Organization,
KO

In whole SSCI

Most
cited
authors

Rank #1

HJORLAND B

DAHLBERG I

BEGHTOL C

CHI
MTH
(
cognitive science
)

KOGUT
B

(knowledge

management)

1

10



Knowledge
Organization

in
LIS

Most cited
authors

Rank #13

HJORLAND B

DAHLBERG I

BEGHTOL C

RANGANATHAN
SR

SOERGEL D

4. Consistent patterns of use?



Information Organization,
IO

In whole SSCI


Most
cited
authors

Rank #4

MILLER
GA
(
cognitive science
)

SVENONIUS E

BADDELEY
A
(
cognitive
sci
)

PORTER
ME
(management)

ZAND
DE
(management)


1

11

Information
Organization,
IO

In LIS

Rank #16


SVENONIUS E

BELKIN
NJ
(LIS not KO)

CHOO
CW
(
knowledge management)

INGWERSEN
P
(LIS not KO)

TAYLOR
AG

4. Consistent patterns of use?



Organization of Information,
OI

In whole SSCI


Most
cited
authors

Rank #7

DUNCAN
J
(
cognitive science)

WILLIAMSON
OE
(economics)

ALCHIAN
AA
(economics)

POSNER
MI
(
cognitive science)

KAHNEMAN D
(
cognitive
science)

1

12

Organization of
Information, OI

In LIS

Rank #19


CASE DO
(Information seeking)


DAVENPORT
TH
(
knowledge management)


FIDEL R


KWASNIK BH


PATTON
MQ
(evaluation research)

4. Consistent patterns of use?



Information
Architecture,
AI

In whole SSCI


Most cited
authors

Rank #10


ROSENFELD L

NIELSEN J

BRANCHEAU JC

WURMAN RS

MARCHIONINI G

1

13

Information
Architecture

In LIS


Rank #22


ROSENFELD
L


NIELSEN
J


BRANCHEAU JC


DILLON A


MARCHIONINI G

5. Interpretation


Each
of the four concepts has a unique set of most cited
authors
seemingly
indicating that we are dealing with four
separate
fields
(which of course change if more than just
the top five
are
considered; data not shown),


Two of the terms (KO and IA) seem to be reasonably
consistently used: in LIS both terms display a list of
connected researchers
, in social sciences the term KO is
also used
by
researchers from
cognitive science and
knowledge
management, but with LIS as the dominant
field.


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14

5. Interpretation


The other two terms (IO and OI) are clearly not
consistently used to delimit a common field.
Svenonius

(2000) and the well
-
known textbook
Taylor
&
Joudrey

(2009
) are

clearly the publications that associate IO with
our field, but the terms are used by other fields as well and
no consistent pattern is visible

(remark that another textbook,
Rowley.
&
Hartley
(
2008)
Organizing knowledge. An introduction to
managing access to
information

tries to have it all by combining
knowledge and information in the title).


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15

5. Interpretation

Why do some researchers prefer IO to KO? There seems
to be no well
-
argued theoretical reason to do so.
Svenonius

(2000)
is clearly a book in the tradition of KO.

Does KO sound old
-
fashioned? Is that term more
connected to print culture than to the digital world
?
Or is it,
as Webber
(2003
) suggests, more a strategic choice made
in order to “sell” the field than it is based on theoretical
arguments?


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16

5. Interpretation


Is information architecture (IA) a new field? An emerging
discipline?


Or is IA just a new name for the field covered by KO?


A course in IA (or a book about IA) is clearly focused on
internet technologies, which is to day an important focus
.
The influential text (Rosenfeld
&
Morville
, 1998;
Morville

&
Rosenfeld, 2006) is a good one, also from the perspective
of KO.


17

1

5. Interpretation


The decision to use the new term IA may be motivated:


To signal something new and cool


To have a term/field delimited to KO on the Internet


To have a term for a community different from our KO
community

Disciplines should be defined theoretically, not by
persuasive terminology just as basic principles should be
independent of media (print or Internet).

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1

5. Interpretation

My suggestion is therefore that KO is the field that
provides the basic principles also for
IA (although clever
people identifying themselves with IA also contribute to
these basic principles).

KO
and IA should certainly not
be considered two different
fields/disciplines because the basic principles have to be
the same. We should not have separate courses in KO
and IA, but courses in KO covering different theoretical
approaches and different kinds of media and technologies.


19

1

6. Conclusion


The choice of the name for the field is not just an empirical
question. Empirical studies can tell the uses of the terms,
whether there is a consistent pattern in the use of a given
label.


To choose a label is also to work for developing the field in
a certain direction. It concerns basic theoretical analyses.


There is a need to connect KO more to other knowledge
fields such as the theory of knowledge, the sociology of
knowledge/science and science studies.



1

20

6. Conclusion


Therefore, my conclusion is that KO should be the
preferred term.



However, if the tendency to shift to IO continues, I would
have to follow the trend: One cannot isolate oneself and
one cannot maintain a private language that nobody else
uses.


I still believe, however, that the term KO is worth arguing
for.

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21

References



Furner, J. (2004). Information studies without information.
Library Trends , 52(3), 427
-
446.


Hanna
, Robert (1998). Conceptual analysis. IN: Routledge
Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Version 1.0, London:
Routledge.


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22

References


Konrad
, A. (2007). On inquiry: Human concept formation
and construction of meaning through library and
information science intermediation (Unpublished doctoral
dissertation). University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved
from
http://
escholarship.org/uc/item/1s76b6hp



Morville, P. &
Rosenfeld
, L. (2006). Information
architecture

for the
world

wide

web (3rd ed.).
Sebastobol
,
CA:
O'Reilly

Media, Inc.


Rosenfeld
, L. & Morville, P. (1998). Information
architecture

for the World Wide Web. 1st ed. Cambridge
Sebastopol
, CA :
O'Reilly
.


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23

References


Rowley
,

J
.

&

Hartley,

R
.

(
2008
)
.

Organizing

knowledge
.

An

introduction

to

managing

access

to

information
.

4
th

edition
.

Aldershot
,

Hampshire
:

Ashgate
.


Taylor
,

A
.

G
.

&

Joudrey
,

D
.

N
.

(
2009
)
.

The

organization

of

information
.

3
rd

edition
.

Westporet
,

Connecticut
:

Libraries

Unlimited
.


Webber
,

S
.

(
2003
)
.

Information

science

in

2003
:

a

critique
.

Journal

of

Information

Science
.

29
(
4
),

311
-
330
.


Zins
, C. (2006).
Redefining

information science: From
information science to
knowledge

science.
Journal of
Documentation
, 62(4), 447
-
461.

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