What is an Information Service?

A very simple definition is:

An Information Service is a service, which provides (serves) data/knowledge/information somehow.

However, this definition is not strong enough to describe the range and domain of an Information Service. Therefore, it is necessary to define the term Information Service in a specific context. Fortunately, Wikipedia delivers, or better saying serves, a good definition of this context, which is called Information System.

An Information System is any combination of information technology and people‘s activities using that technology to support operations, management, and decision-making.

The definition continues with explaining the term from a bit more technical view:

In a very broad sense, the term Information System is frequently used to refer to the interaction between people, algorithmic processes, data and technology.

Regarding the first part of this definition, an Information Service is an instance of Information Technology. Hence, an Information Service is a part of an Information System. The second role in this definition is people. This term must be substituted by the term agent, which could be an administrator and/or an user. An user could be a customer and/or contributor. In addition, an agent could be a human or a machine. The interaction is that an Information Service, which collects (retrieves), manages (structures) and stores the data/knowledge/information (maybe with the help of an administrator), serves this data/knowledge/information to an user.
The outcome of this, is the following definition:

An Information Service is this part of an Information System that serves data/knowledge/information* to customers and collects it from its contributors, to manage and store it by optionally using administrators.

This should be a technology independent** definition of the term Information Service. That means an Information Service could be

independently of its representation form and/or carrier/transmission medium/form, e.g. a book (paper) or the Internet.
Although, the term Information Service could cover a broad range of things, the usage of it might concentrates for the beginning on the Internet and there especially on the Web, with a focus on Information Services, which have/deliver a huge amount of data/knowledge/information (of a specific domain or domain independent)****. Hence, one could say: “let’s define the term Web Information Service as a subset and a specific kind of Information Service” (cf. definition of Web Information System). However, since the Web delivers only another kind of carrier/transmission medium/form, it should be enough to say that an Information Service simply uses this carrier/transmission medium/form next to other carrier/transmission mediums/forms.
Finally, the Info Service Ontology makes use of the concept Information Service.



PS: This definition is based on the community/expert power of Wikipedia and a good discussion with Olaf Hartig.

*) knowledge is all meaning of data, and information is a subset of knowledge to a concrete question or domain (see Information definition on Wikipedia).

**) That means, it includes non-computer (sometimes also referred as offline***) related things, e.g. a book or a library, and computer (sometimes also referred as online***) related things, e.g. a website.

***) Although, the terms offline and online should be in general used for computer related things. They express whether data/knowledge/information is available via Internet (online) or not (offline).

****) However, the society tends more and more into the Long Tail. Hence, it might be interesting to describe and rate also all these very subjective Information Services, e.g. a personal blog or website. It depends all on the subjective mutual trust each Information Service consumer has to the specific Information Services. Its at least a mutual trust between consumers and producers of an Information Service.


About zazi0815

believe in music to survive (for further information check out the gravatar profile, please)
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1 Response to What is an Information Service?

  1. Pingback: On Resources, Information Resources and Documents | The Info Service Ontology

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