What is information? Toward a theory of information as objective and veridical
Palgrave Macmillan Ltd.
School of Business
Information systems are a strong and ever-growing discipline of enormous relevance to today’s informated world, and yet, as recent reviews have shown, there is still not an agreed and explicit conceptualization or definition of information. After an evaluative review of a range of theories of information, this paper develops and defends a particular theory, one that sees information as both objective and veridical. By objective, we mean that the information carried by signs and messages exists independently of its receivers or observers. The information carried by a sign exists even if the sign is not actually observed. By veridical, we mean that information must be true or correct in order to be information – information is truth-constituted. False information is not information, but misinformation or disinformation. The paper develops this theory and then discusses four contentious issues – information as objective rather than subjective; information as true or correct; information and knowledge; and information and the ambiguity of meaning. It concludes with a discussion of the practical implications of the theory.