Information as Ontologization

UPDATE: Published in Early View.

I received notification this morning that my manuscript, Information as Ontologization has been accepted for publication in the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology.


The traditional view of data, information and knowledge as a hierarchy fosters an understanding of information as an independent entity with objective meaning—that while information is tied to data and knowledge, its existence is not dependent upon them. While traditional conceptions assume a static nature of information, expressed by the equation information = data + meaning, we have argued that this understanding is based on an ontologization of an entwined process of sense-making and meaning-making. This process starts from the recognition of a pattern that is interpreted in a way that influences our behavior. At the same time, the process character of meaning-making makes us aware of the fact that this ontologized hierarchy is in fact an interwoven process. We conclude that the phenomenological analysis of this ontologization that makes into being data, information, and knowledge has to go back to this process to reveal the essential underlying dependencies.

Essentially, we argue that information doesn’t exist as part of a hierarchy of data-information-knowledge regardless of the directional preference one has for this hierarchy. Information, rather, is a phenomenon of ontologization, the core of which consists in the transformation of patterns through an entwined process of individual sense-making and sociocultural meaning-making. Moreover, the transformation of these patterns is handled schematically, which provides a consistency to these transformations such that data and knowledge are merged into one being—information as an ontological whole.