Information ecology

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In the context of an evolving information society, the term information ecology marks a connection between ecological ideas with the dynamics and properties of the increasingly dense, complex and important digital informational environment and has been gaining progressively wider acceptance in a growing number of disciplines. "Information ecology" often is used as metaphor, viewing the informational space as an ecosystem.

Information ecology is a science which studies the laws governing the influence of information summary on the formation and functioning of bio‐systems, including that of individuals, human communities and humanity in general and on the health and psychological, physical and social well‐being of the human being; and which undertakes to develop methodologies to improve the information environment. Information ecology - associated with information hygiene (Eryomin 1998).

Information ecology also makes a connection to the concept of collective intelligence and Knowledge ecology (Pór 2000).

Language of ecology[edit]

Information ecology draws on the language of ecology - habitat, species, evolution, ecosystem, niche, growth, equilibrium, etc. - to describe and analyze information systems from a perspective that considers the distribution and abundance of organisms, their relationships with each other, and how they influence and are influenced by their environment. The virtual lack of boundaries between information systems and the impact of information technology on economic, social and environmental activities frequently calls on an information ecologist to consider local information ecosystems in the context of larger systems, and of the evolution of global information ecosystems. See also list of ecology topics.

Networked information economy[edit]

In The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom, a book published in 2006 and available under a Creative Commons license on its own wikispace,[1] Yochai Benkler provides an analytic framework for the emergence of the networked information economy that draws deeply on the language and perspectives of information ecology together with observations and analyses of high-visibility examples of successful peer production processes, citing Wikipedia as a prime example.

Bonnie Nardi and Vicki O'Day in their book "Information Ecologies: Using Technology with Heart," (Nardi & O’Day 1999) apply the ecology metaphor to local environments, such as libraries and schools, in preference to the more common metaphors for technology as tool, text, or system.

In different domains / disciplines[edit]

Anthropology[edit]

Nardi and O’Day’s book represents the first specific treatment of information ecology by anthropologists. H.E. Kuchka [2] situates information within socially-distributed cognition of cultural systems. Casagrande and Peters [3] use information ecology for an anthropological critique of Southwest US water policy. Stepp (1999)[4] published a prospectus for the anthropological study of information ecology.

Knowledge management[edit]

Information ecology was used as book title by Thomas H. Davenport and Laurence Prusak (Davenport & Prusak 1997), with a focus on the organization dimensions of information ecology. There was also an academic research project at DSTC called Information ecology, concerned with distributed information systems and online communities.

Human-computer interaction[edit]

Practitioners in human-computer interaction have been using a variant of information ecology, known as the 'ecological cognition framework' for some time.[5] Research have found it to be useful for understanding active participation in online communities and what instigates the user to desire to do so[6]

Law[edit]

Law schools represent another area where the phrase is gaining increasing acceptance, e.g. NYU Law School Conference Towards a Free Information Ecology [7] and a lecture series on Information ecology at Duke University Law School's Center for the Study of the Public Domain.

Library science[edit]

The field of library science has seen significant adoption of the term and librarians have been described by Nardi and O'Day as a "keystone species in information ecology",[8][9] and references to information ecology range as far afield as the Collaborative Digital Reference Service of the Library of Congress,[10] to children's library database administrator in Russia.

Biology[edit]

There has also been increasing use of "information ecology" as a concept among ecologists involved in digital mapping of botanical resources, including research by Zhang Xinshi at the Institute of Botany of the China Academy of Science; also see a presentation to the Information Ecology SIG at Yale University's Forestry School.[11]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Benkler, Yochai. The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. available under a Creative Commons. 
  2. ^ http://kuchka.org/information-ecology
  3. ^ Casagrande, D.G., & C. Peters. 2013. Ecomyopia meets the longue durée: An information ecology of the increasingly arid Southwestern United States. Pp. 97-144 in H. Kopnina & E. Shoreman (Eds.), Environmental Anthropology: Future Directions. New York: Routledge.
  4. ^ http://kuchka.org/sites/default/files/stepp.pdf
  5. ^ Bishop, J. (2007). "Increasing participation in online communities: A framework for human-computer interaction". Computers in Human Behavior (Elsevier Science Publishers) 23 (4): 1881–1893. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2005.11.004. 
  6. ^ Holzmann, V. & Dubnov, S. "Understanding the Collaboration Enigma". The International Journal of Knowledge, Culture, & Change Management 10 (7). 
  7. ^ Conference A Free Information Ecology in the Digital Environment, New York University School of Law, March 31, 2000 to Sunday, April 2, 2000
  8. ^ http://www.loc.gov/rr/digiref/archive/nardi.html
  9. ^ http://www.sims.berkeley.edu/sfsla/bulletin/sepoct00/info_ecology.html
  10. ^ http://www.loc.gov/rr/digiref/source/CDRS-KB-CNI.PPT
  11. ^ http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/files/dpu-pip/ien-iie.ppt