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CSC124 Information, Technology & Society: What is information?

What information do I need?

Halo bookThe library provides all kinds of information. Some of it is what I think of as "life," for example the Halo strategy guide, but much of our information is "work" information, the kind of information you need to complete your assignments. Whether you are looking for statistics or research articles or maps of a geographic region, the library has this "work" information.

This guide will help you learn the basics of the tools you'll need to find the information you're looking for.

What is information?

question markInformation is knowledge acquired through experience, study or instruction. It is everywhere and you use it every day.

For example, if you need to know what time it is, you have an information need. There are many ways you could meet this need: look at your watch or your cell phone, look at a clock, ask a friend, consult a sundial, and so on.

Information lives in context. What may be relevant information to one person, may not be relevant to another. For example, a child's weight may be relevant to her parents and doctor, but not relevant to her reading teacher. Information may also change how relevant it is as different times. You may not need to know today how deforestation may contribute to global warming, but next month, when you are assigned to do a research paper on the topic, then the information becomes relevant.

Some information is factual, which means it is a statement of a thing that is done or exists. "Penn College is located in Williamsport, PA."

Some information is analytical, which means it is an interpretation of factual information. Facts are gathered and used together to reach a conclusion. Information in books or articles is often analytical as these resources present intrepretation of facts, usually by experts.

Some information is subjective, meaning that it is presented from only one point of view. Editorial articles in newspapers are subjective information sources.

Some information is objective. Objective information synthesizes information from several different sources and presents findings that can be replicated (or checked). For example, a researcher can report that she used five sources and all five sources agreed on X. Another researcher can then go to those five sources and read them to make sure that they did actually agree on X.

Where do I look for information?

Information by type