Information as Action (Informaction?)

in·for·ma·tion (nfr-mshn)

n.

1. Knowledge derived from study, experience, or instruction.
2. Knowledge of specific events or situations that has been gathered or received by communication; intelligence or news. See Synonyms at knowledge.
3. A collection of facts or data: statistical information.
4. The act of informing or the condition of being informed; communication of knowledge: Safety instructions are provided for the information of our passengers.
5. Computer Science Processed, stored, or transmitted data.
6. A numerical measure of the uncertainty of an experimental outcome.
7. Law A formal accusation of a crime made by a public officer rather than by grand jury indictment.

infor·mation·al adj.

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The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2003. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

 

 

It is wonderful to see one of the definitions of information to be an action (#4). Is this definition actually neglected nowadays? According to my humble opinion, yes!

I will give an example to make my point more easily understood: moving to another country. When Alan Dix was a guest of the Irish SIGCHI here in Trinity, he quoted a saying: “If you want to find out what’s wrong with your country, ask a foreigner!“. I completely agree with that, a foreigner can spot the catch-22 procedures that every local has got used to.

In most countries, I know that you have to show a valid student ID to get a student discount. Transportation, cinema, anything. In Ireland, though, you have to get an extra Student Travel Card in order to get a discount in various stores. Moreover, if you’ve got a student ticket on the bus or the Luas (tram) and you have your student ID, but not this card, you get fined!

  1. The reason why this card exists is, at least, obscure. Doesn’t my student ID prove that I am a student? Why pay extra 15€ to get this thing?
  2. Why doesn’t anyone actually inform students that they need one? Do I have to get a fine or be lucky enough to overhear a relevant conversation to find out?

If you ask these questions to the People In Charge you always get the same answer: “it’s all in our website“. Give me one reason, though, why I should search your website for something I do not even know it exists! I have been asking since all international students about this and a lot more than half of them are unaware of the existence of that card.

It’s as simple as that. If there is no narrative, nothing to urge you search for something, you will not find it. It is unimportant that it exists in a website. You don’t have to read specialised journals to understand that.

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