I am just reporting observations, and not being critical or judgemental. 
But I wonder if these phrases form a decent definition of information 
science, so elusive after 60 years.

   I first ran into this triumvirate twenty years ago (get the UTK thing?) 
and at that time it was my first exposure to the intersection of these 
ideas under Jose-Marie G.  It was exciting. No one that I had run into 
before had ever pulled this Venn diagram together.
   Twenty years later, I'm seeing the same thing presented at Penn State 
( as an undergraduate 
course as a Brand New Concept.
   The triumvirate is also presented as "information, people, and 
technology" at the current iSchools website at

   I looked at, and it doesn't have a mission statement, and 
doesn't include these words (or any others, for that matter).

   I looked at the web site, and they are still celebrating the 
name change to "and Technology" which happened what, a decade ago? "This 
year's conference theme offers an opportunity to reflect on all the 
changes that impact on human information interaction and their 
implications for information science and technology." Sort of the right 

In other words, there is still not a good definition of "information 
science" out there.

   I googled "information technology people" and came up with a journal at
   which might be worth paying attention to, in its 26th year of 

   I googled "users technology knowledge" which turned up a bunch of 
articles containing one or two terms but not three.

   I looked at the Wikipedia article for the definition of "information 
science" and it was the usual mishmash of unconnected topics. The ideas 
here are not bad, and not irrelevant.  I wonder what they would look like 
if they were re-organized under the people - users/information - knowledge 
/information technology framework.

   Is there a decent definition of information science in this mess?  I 
think that there is.  In multiple layers.

   First layer.  Venn diagram and explain the intersection of users - 
people/information - knowledge/information technology.

   Second layer.  Explain these sectors.  Yes, in full this means in the 
information - knowledge section how publishing works, where books come 
from, how books are published via the web, history of books, meaning of 
bibliography, the whole nine yards.  How cultures are preserved via the 
written word.  In full in the information technology section this means 
going back to hieroglyphics and the creation of and preservation of the 
written word, but also telegraphs and their relationship to text msging, 
the written vs spoken word (the telephone), representation of language and 
letters (ASCII eg), verbal vs graphic representations of information, 
computing as priesthood and personal computers, networked information.  I 
know very little about users and how they process/acquire information.

   Third layer:  How these three sectors interact.

   This foundation for a definition of "information science" in the 
intersection of "people - users/information - knowledge/ information 
technology"  both avoids, and embraces folks who try to distinguish 
between informatics, computer science, natural or engineered information 
systems, philosophical systems regarding epistemology.  The history of 
science goes in the Knowledge section.  Documentation goes in the 
Technology section.  Everyone has a place.

   The base phrase is "information science."  It is defined as the 
intersection between "people, information, and technology".

   We're done for the night.  Happy Saturday, everyone.


Gretchen Whitney, PhD, Retired
School of Information Sciences
University of Tennessee, Knoxville TN 37996 USA           [log in to unmask]