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Principles of Information Systems

Principles of Information Systems

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Principles of Information Systems

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  1. Principles of Information Systems Session 02 Naming and Knowing

  2. Naming and Knowing Chapter 1

  3. Overview Learning objectives • Introduction • Names and identities • Naming and authority • Other ways of knowing • Meaning making - semiosis • How we know – epistemology and ontology • Summary

  4. Learning objectives • Explain why naming is a fundamental human activity • Explain the difference between the name of something and its identity • Define essential and accidental attributes • Explain what categories are, and describe how they may be formed • Explain how a framework of understanding is necessary to knowing 4

  5. Learning objectives • Discuss the role of context, community and authority in knowing. • Give examples of communities that have their own “ways of knowing” • Outline the concept of semiosis • Explain what epistemology and ontology are 5

  6. step • Introduction • Names and identities • Naming and authority • Other ways of knowing • Meaning making - semiosis • How we know – epistemology and ontology • Summary Introduction • What is this? • How do I know? • How can I describe it? • Are there other things like it? • What do you call it? • Do we agree? If not, who decides? Why? 6

  7. Introduction • The words for things, • the sets of things they belong to (or contrast with), • the precision with which they are defined, • and the people for whom they have meaning … are all relevant in our daily life Classification and naming are the basis of language, and our ability to communicate 7

  8. Why is this important in informatics? • Because in informatics we often have to express ideas in forms that will be processed by others we do not know, or by computers • So it is crucial that we can name things and ideas in a way that lets us work purposively with them 8

  9. Categories and distinctions • Information is about categories and distinctions – difference is the basis of information • Making a distinction implies naming a new thing, or category of thing • Classification implies difference, and this difference provides the basis for a decision 9

  10. Categories and distinctions • He is under 18 or he isn’t. • “Now I know you are under 18 I can’t serve you” • The ball is over the line or it is not. • “Now the ball is out of play, we’ll start a new sequence of play” 10

  11. Recap Naming is a fundamental human activity that is required to describe information and distinguish it from other information. 11

  12. Introduction • Names and identities • Naming and authority • Other ways of knowing • Meaning making - semiosis • How we know – epistemology and ontology • Summary Names and identities • Is this the same one I saw yesterday? • How do I know? • It’s cute though - I think I’ll call it Brian 12

  13. Names and identities • Who are you? How are you known? Are the answers the same? • Your identity is who you are • Your identity is real • Your name is how you are known • Your name is a symbol 13

  14. Names and identities • On your passport, student card, police record, social security system and many other places your name helps identify you as you and not someone else. • But you can change your name, or be known by a nickname, or have the same name as someone else. You might have a stage name, a middle name, or a shortened form. • You would still be you though: the different symbolic forms refer to the same identity. 14

  15. Name and identity in informatics • You will have your own ideas about “who you really are” • Information systems however, fundamentally deal with the symbolic names and identifiers • What is known about you is the information the system has about you, and how that information is used. • So the information that is recorded makes a difference to your identity in the system 15

  16. Name and identity in informatics • In informatics the association between name and distinct identity is essential. • Your name is not enough to identify you for the purposes of social security, banking, immigration or student records. • Other identifiers, usually numbers, associate you with your record in some information system. • Physical information, such as your gender, age, photo, signature, fingerprints, scars or DNA also help to uniquely identify you for the information purposes of immigration, police, access to buildings and the like. • Whatever remains true and unchanging despite time is the basis of identity: labels and attributions are not. 16

  17. Identity and change • The notion of persistence through time, and the transformations that occur to things is central to informatics and how things are described and modelled • For example, the mission or function of an organisation normally remains fairly constant, although how it achieves that may change. • Functional roles are likely to outlast the incumbents of those roles: • The “head of marketing” or the “Manchester United goalkeeper” refers to a role, or title • The person actually in that role is replaced over time. • So the dynamic nature of things must also be taken into account when trying to describe something that is intended to remain useful for some period of time. 17

  18. Recap The name of something allows it to be labelled and located. Its identity is what makes it different from something else and is what persists through time. 18

  19. Entities and attributes • In informatics the technical word for a thing is an entity • A person • A business • A receipt • Each entity will have properties or attributes that are of interest in a given situation. • Person entitymight have Age, height, and nationality of birth attributes • Receipt entitymight have Amount, description of items and date attributes 19

  20. Recap All entities (things) have properties or attributes that describe them. 20

  21. Entities & Attributes in information systems • Informatics involves defining entities, their specific properties, or attributes, and the things they relate to • When describing something for use in an information system it becomes important to identify what is essential and what is optional 21

  22. Essential and accidental attributes • Some attributes are essentialto identity, others are accidental. • Essential attributes are those that are indispensable for something to have its particular nature. • Solidity is an essential property of a brick • Accidental attributes are those that may or may not apply, and are thus not essential to a thing’s nature. • A brick may be red or yellow, indented or plain but these properties are only accidentally true of a particular brick. 22

  23. Attributes in information systems • What would be essential attributes to include in an information system about: • Students and the courses they take? • People and their banking transactions? • What attributes might be optional (accidental) in each case? Why might you include these? 23

  24. Recap Essential attributes are those that are indispensable for something to have its particular nature. Accidental attributes are those that may or may not apply, and are thus not essential to a thing’s nature 24

  25. Categories • Most of what we describe, represent and think we know is defined using categories • Categories are used to identify distinctions of interest • The idea of categories is that we can define classes or sets of similar things, which can be named by the same word • Duck • Australian • Red There are two types of people in the world. Those that think the world can be divided into two types of people and those that don’t. 25

  26. Defining categories – necessary and sufficient features • The classical theory of necessary and sufficient defining features might be one basis • Birds fly and nest in trees - except that emus, kiwis and ostriches don’t. • The problem is that the actual things referred to rarely fit any definition exactly, and there can be many exceptions 26

  27. Defining categories - Prototypes • Prototypes are those members of a category that are most representative of that concept • A mid sized, four legged, devoted, hairy dog is prototypical of the class of dogs • Individuals can be compared with the prototype to see how well they fit the category • This is their degree of membership of the category 27

  28. Defining categories - Level of categories • What level of abstraction should be chosen? • Too specific, too general are both not useful • Trade off amount of detail to be sufficiently informative, without having unnecessary distinctions in the context 28

  29. Defining categories - Theories view POISONOUS scorpions wasps shrimps moths grasshoppers SAFE crabs spiders 29

  30. Defining categories - Theories view scorpions wasps AIR shrimps moths grasshoppers SEA crabs spiders LAND 30

  31. Defining categories - Framing view BUILDING skyscraper cathedral temple prayer prayer temple cathedral skyscraper RELIGION 31

  32. Defining categories – Framing Philosophers or Brazilian soccer players? Plato Socrates Leonardo Pele Pele Leonardo Socrates Plato 32

  33. Recap Categories are a way of distinguishing between different things that enable the things in the world to be classified and named. Categories group items together according to some theory or context for defining their similarity. 33

  34. Naming and hierarchy • Choosing the level to describe things at is an important decision to make: • When giving a romantic gift, knowing that a given flower is “a rose” may be enough – its scientific name and relationship to other flowers isn’t relevant • For other purposes, such as professional rose cultivation, these details do matter, and relate to knowledge of other things such as soils, breeding and markets 34

  35. Granularity • Granularity is the term used to describe the level of detail at which something is defined or described, and is an important concept in informatics • Your purpose determines how much detail you go into and where you draw the boundary between what is included and what is excluded. 35

  36. Naming and hierarchy • Entities are not only characterised by their properties, but also in their relationships to other entities • Every mother is also a daughter. A woman in one context may behave as a daughter, and in another behave as a mother. • A rose is a type of flower, which is a type of plant, and different roses can be specified by variety • These relationships suggest an order of things, a hierarchy, or a taxonomy 36

  37. Taxonomy • A taxonomy is a hierarchical structure of names and ideas • More abstract or general concepts are found at the top, and more specific ones lower down 37

  38. Systematisation and informatics • These general principles of object identification, abstraction and specification apply in all areas of informatics, and have been explored formally for some time • Systematic organisation of ideas is essential in any discipline, and categorisation can provide the means of organisation 38

  39. Branding – a particular type of naming Table 1.1 Brand name types Surname: Dell Descriptive: Pizza Hut Invented: Xerox Connotative: Duracell Bridge: DaimlerChrysler Arbitrary: Yahoo! • In branding, names have powerful connotations – the name of an organisation or brand is important in the public’s perception of it, and its value. Adapted from: Lippincott-Mercer. Name Types and Functions. 2006. Available from []. 39

  40. Referencing • Naming is our basic categorising act, since in informatics we have to symbolise ideas about things in the world • Names signify or refer to something in the outside world • The same name can refer to two different things, and different names can refer to the same thing • Referencing makes the link between a word and its object 40

  41. Names and things geometricshape living carrot rectangle yellow vegetable circle edible animal 41

  42. Referencing carrot rectangle geometricshape vegetable yellow animal edible living 42

  43. Intensional and extensional definitions of categories • An intensional definition describes the essential definitional requirement for the category: • e.g. students are those enrolled at a place of learning (by definition). • An extensional definition involves “pointing to” every member that the definition refers to • e.g. we may define the category “the World’s strongest man” Logically, only one person can be the “world’s strongest man” but who that person physically is varies over time 43

  44. Logical requirements and physical instances • In informatics, we see the idea of intensional and extensional definition in the concept of logical requirementsvs physical instantiation 44

  45. Community naming and knowing • Real knowledge is not private but is understood communally • Naming and definition must pass social acceptance – the terms consistently used by that community to refer to the objects and concepts recognised by it • This itself has levels of granularity, from universal concepts, to culturally-specific terms, to idiolects understood by only couples or individuals 45

  46. Localisation of concepts within different sizes of communities view UNIVERSALS The sun lights up the sky CULTURAL IDEAS What we wear at funerals SUB-CULTURAL JARGON Ogdoads have eight elements FAMILY TALES Uncle Ted and the brown ale PRIVATE I love you, punkin! 46

  47. Frameworks of understanding • Cultures establish ways of understanding things that are meaningful to them • In some cultures black implies mourning, in others white does • Cultures and communities have their own languages and names for things, as well as conventions for speaking and behaving • A meaning or truth for one person or culture may not be true for another • Culture provides a framework of understanding that makes something meaningful or otherwise to its adherents 47

  48. step Frameworks of understanding • An aerial view of buildings? (to a househunter) • Trees and rocks reflected in water? (to a photographer) • Abstract art? (to a graphic designer) • …? (to you) 48

  49. Seeing view B? and Seeing-As 13? 49

  50. Seeing Rabbit view Quack! Duck and Seeing-As 50