CYBERSEMIOTICS: A NEW INTERDISCIPLINARY DEVELOPMENT APPLIED TO THE PROBLEMS OF KNOWLEDGE ORGANISATION AND DOCUMENT RETRIEVAL IN INFORMATION SCIENCE

SØREN BRIER (sbr@db.dk Royal School of Librarianship, Aalborg Branch, Langagervej 4 9220 Aalborg Øst, Denmark)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Publication date: 1 March 1996

Abstract

This article is a contribution to the development of a comprehensive interdisciplinary theory of LIS in the hope of giving a more precise evaluation of its current problems. The article describes an interdisciplinary framework for lis, especially information retrieval (IR), in a way that goes beyond the cognitivist ‘information processing paradigm’. The main problem of this paradigm is that its concept of information and language does not deal in a systematic way with how social and cultural dynamics set the contexts that determine the meaning of those signs and words that are the basic tools for the organisation and retrieving of documents in LIS. The paradigm does not distinguish clearly enough between how the computer manipulates signs and how librarians work with meaning in practice when they design and run document mediating systems. The ‘cognitive viewpoint’ of Ingwersen and Belkin makes clear that information is not objective, but rather only potential, until it is interpreted by an individual mind with its own internal mental world view and purposes. It facilitates further study of the social pragmatic conditions for the interpretation of concepts. This approach is not yet fully developed. The domain analytic paradigm of Hjørland and Albrechtsen is a conceptual realisation of an important aspect of this area. In the present paper we make a further development of a non‐reductionistic and interdisciplinary view of information and human social communication by texts in the light of second‐order cybernetics, where information is seen as ‘a difference which makes a difference’ for a living autopoietic (self‐organised, self‐creating) system. Other key ideas are from the semiotics of Peirce and also Warner. This is the understanding of signs as a triadic relation between an object, a representation and an interpretant. Information is the interpretation of signs by living, feeling, self‐organising, biological, psychological and social systems. Signification is created and con‐trolled in a cybernetic way within social systems and is communicated through what Luhmann calls generalised media, such as science and art. The modern socio‐linguistic concept ‘discourse communities’ and Wittgenstein's ‘language game’ concept give a further pragmatic description of the self‐organising system's dynamic that determines the meaning of words in a social context. As Blair and Liebenau and Backhouse point out in their work it is these semantic fields of signification that are the true pragmatic tools of knowledge organ‐isation and document retrieval. Methodologically they are the first systems to be analysed when designing document mediating systems as they set the context for the meaning of concepts. Several practical and analytical methods from linguistics and the sociology of knowledge can be used in combination with standard methodology to reveal the significant language games behind document mediation.

Citation

BRIER, S. (1996), "CYBERSEMIOTICS: A NEW INTERDISCIPLINARY DEVELOPMENT APPLIED TO THE PROBLEMS OF KNOWLEDGE ORGANISATION AND DOCUMENT RETRIEVAL IN INFORMATION SCIENCE", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 52 No. 3, pp. 296-344. https://doi.org/10.1108/eb026970

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MCB UP Ltd

Copyright © 1996, MCB UP Limited

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