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Information ecology

In the context of an evolving information society, the term information ecology was coined by various persons in the 1980s and 1990s. It marks a connection between ecological ideas with the dynamics & properties of the increasingly dense, complex and important digital informational environment and has been gaining progressively wider acceptance in a growing number of disciplines. "Information ecology" often is used as metaphor, viewing the informational space as an ecosystem.


Language of ecology

Information ecology draws on the language of ecology - habitat, species, evolution, ecosystem, niche, growth, equilibrium, etc - to describe and analyze information systems from a perspective that considers the distribution and abundance of organisms, their relationships with each other, and how they influence and are influenced by their environment. The virtual lack of boundaries between information systems and the impact of information technology on economic, social and environmental activities frequently calls on an information ecologist to consider local information ecosystems in the context of larger systems, and of the evolution of global information ecosystems. See also list of ecology topics.

Knowledge management and computer science

Information ecology was used as book title by Thomas H. Davenport and Laurence Prusak [1], with a focus on the organization dimensions of information ecology. There is also an academic research project called Information ecology, which is concerned with distributed information systems and online communities [2].


Law schools represent another area where the phrase is gaining increasing acceptance, e.g. NYU Law School Conference Towards a Free Information Ecology [3] and a lecture series on Information ecology at Duke University Law School's Center for the Study of the Public Domain [4]

Library science

The field of library science has seen significant adoption of the term and librarians have been described by Bonnie Nardi as a "keystone species in information ecology", e.g. [5], [6] and references to information ecology range as far afield as the Collaborative Digital Reference Service of the Library of Congress [7], to children's library database administrator in Russia


There has also been increasing use of "information ecology" as a concept among ecologists involved in digital mapping of botanical resources, including research by Zhang Xinshi at the Institute of Botany of the China Academy of Science; also see a presentation to the Information Ecology SIG at Yale University's Forestry School [8].

See also

Our sister project, Wikibooks, provides an electronic book on Information ecology.
Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45