18 July 2012

What Is Information: A Start...

My post on "What Is Information?" didn't generate any response, but that doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about it and that I don't think it's worth contemplating.

Genealogists throw around the word "information" without really ever saying what it is.

I'm thinking that genealogical information (or a statement) places a person in a specific place at a specific time--and sometimes in relationship to another person.

But that definition is fluid. I don't have it worked out yet. Comments are welcomed!


Anonymous said...

To start, I'm going to use a couple definitions in Merriam-Webster (reverse of their posted order on the site):

"Knowledge obtained from investigation, study, or instruction."

"The communication or reception of knowledge or intelligence."

The first definition I think goes right to the heart of what genealogical information is. It is the facts and knowledge we gain through our research.

I think information comes in many forms. It could be a physical record, like a birth certificate, draft card, or marriage license. It could be a census. Information can come in other forms as well. Family stories can give a better sense of family events, and give more insight on what a person was like. Photos can give information on what a person or place looked like at a particular time. Even recordings and videos can share information that goes well beyond what we can learn about our ancestors from books.

The second definition though is essential for any information gained through genealogical research to have value. That is, that genealogical information must not only be gathered; it must be shared as well.

I share my own information in a few ways. I keep in touch with family members and share findings with them (and some of them also share with me). And, I write my own blog, which shares select information with anyone that wants to learn more about genealogy in general, and my family genealogy in particular. As I share, I also learn, and by doing so, I gain new insight; new information.

Anonymous said...

Information is knowledge, derived from data, leading to understanding and useful for decision-making.