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Q: Information systems ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Subject: Information systems
Category: Computers
Asked by: georgina1-ga
List Price: $100.00
Posted: 16 Oct 2002 15:45 PDT
Expires: 15 Nov 2002 14:45 PST
Question ID: 77449
I need to write a brief essay on:
(i)An information system using zero technology
(ii)An information system with extensive use of technology (not
necessarily computer based).
(iii)Two kinds of information or communications technology (ICT) in
use before the year 1900(there is no limit to how far you go back

In the above, technology is defined as the use of artefacts to achieve
an objective. In (i) and (ii) I need to discuss the system
characteristics to show why the examples can be considered validly as
a system.
Subject: Re: Information systems
Answered By: cubist-ga on 16 Oct 2002 22:31 PDT

(i) A physical classification of objects according to size, colour or
anything else is an information system without any technology. Like a
collection of stones in a museum. Once you classify objects in a
particular class, each class becomes a measure to which you can
evaluate a new object that has to be classified. This is a system,
because you physically can put each item in a class. Like the
collection of stones, you have a class of
dark stones, one of lighter ones and so on. You could classify them by
weight, looks, sort,... When you have to find a particular object, you
look for a particular characteristic, then go to that class, and find

(ii) Once you start using databases to classify objects, you don't
them physically, but by use of terms (words), which you put in a
database. That database can be a sheet of paper, but it can also be a
database. Let's use the piece of paper, because it is an information
system with extensive use of technology: Insert different columns for
each characteristic, each row is the name of the stone.
When you have to find a particular object (stone), you look at the
name and than you check the whole row for other characteristics like
colour or place for that object. You can also work inverted, f.e.
search all blue stones.
Intensive use of technology: In a computer database, you only need 1
'index card', the 'cards' are automatically sorted by class. Looking
up an object is significantly easier and faster, and is taken care of
by the computer.

(iii) Information or Communication technology before 1900:
-A system of index cards, like used in libraries untill the 80's. Each
contains the details of a book, classified by author, title or
subject. For
each class the user could look up, you needed a closet. For each book,
needed a card in every closet.
-A book in which shopkeepers kept the items sold and the money
This system made it easy to calculate the profit or loss that was
Four columns needed: item sold, money received, money paid, profit

Should this not be enough, or you have anymore questions, let me now,
I'll elaborate some more.


Clarification of Answer by cubist-ga on 16 Oct 2002 22:41 PDT

I'm adding a bit of explanation here. I had to post the answer,
because my timelock on the question expired.

(i) The classes you define have to be limited, you can use each name
as a class, but than you would have a class for each stone. The best
is to look at the whole collection, find similar stones (f.e. blue),
put them in a class and then classify them further (f.e. blue round

(ii) The extensive use of technology in the sheet of paper implies
that it is just a little help. Theoretically, you could classify them
in your mind too.

Clarification of Answer by cubist-ga on 16 Oct 2002 22:48 PDT
(iii)the shopkeepers book: the output of such a book is interesting,
you could calculate profit, loss, total items sold, how many items
from 1 product sold, total items lost. But first of all it was created
to keep track of things, so you could know what was sold 2 years ago.
While the index cards learns you nothing more than where the book is,
the author, subject and title (the items on the card)

Clarification of Answer by cubist-ga on 18 Oct 2002 19:59 PDT
An Information System is:The knowledge obtained from  investigation,
instruction or study (=information) that is put in a system (=a manner
of classifying, symbolizing or schematizing)

(i) is an information system : with the knowledge obtained from 
investigation and study you can clasify the stones in a system, since
you classify the stones physically, you don't need artefacts (or
symbols) to represent them.

(ii) the rows and columns represent (they are symbols) the
characteristics that where obtained through study of the objects you
want to classify, so it is clearly an information system.
The extensive use of technology (artefacts) is relative, once you use
artefacts to represent something, you use technology. But how much
technology (artefacts) do you need before talking of extensive use.
The sheet of paper with it's columns was a form of extensive use in
the 1800's, but nowadays you would be talking about computers or more
complicated devices. It is not the quantity of artefacts that counts.
And since you cannot compare 2 artefacts if they are more artefact (or
technology) than the other, you cannot clearly state the definition of

Request for Answer Clarification by georgina1-ga on 20 Oct 2002 11:41 PDT
Thanks for your answer. I think you misunderstood my definition of
system. The properties of the system should include: boundary, control
surface, process, purpose, viability, homeostasis, adaptation,
equifinality, inputs and outputs, organisation, components, the system
should be more than the sum of its component parts.

Secondly, when I enquire about an information system with extensive
use of technology, I mean one which uses lots of technology, as
opposed to one which uses zero technology, and not one which is used

Please could you answer the three questions again in light of this


Clarification of Answer by cubist-ga on 22 Oct 2002 06:57 PDT
I'm sorry that my explanation didn't help much. But you didn't give a
definition of a system, I'll rememeber next time to ask some
clarification first. But you need to understand that when you ask a
question like that, you have to give people the whole picture.
I'll restart to answer the 3 questions.But I need to know some more:
-Does your answer need to be computer-minded?
-You said:
"An information system with extensive use of technology (not
necessarily computer based): Secondly, when I enquire about an
information system with extensive
use of technology, I mean one which uses lots of technology, as
opposed to one which uses zero technology, and not one which is used
You 'll have to give me a definition of extensive, as I said in my 3d
"It is not the quantity of artefacts that counts.
And since you cannot compare 2 artefacts if they are more artefact (or
technology) than the other, you cannot clearly state the definition of
Or should I look at it like:"a computer is more technological than a
sheet of paper"?
-When do you need the answer, is it urgent?
Kind regards,
Subject: Re: Information systems
From: wod-ga on 17 Oct 2002 04:29 PDT
This will depend on the definition of "information system" that you
have. First let's define information.

(1) According to Websters Online, information is :

1 : the communication or reception of knowledge or intelligence
2 : knowledge obtained from investigation, study, or instruction 

(2) Now lets define system. According to the same, a system is :

1 : a regularly interacting or interdependent group of items forming a
unified whole <a number system>: as

a (1) : a group of interacting bodies under the influence of related
forces <a gravitational system> (2) : an assemblage of substances that
is in or tends to equilibrium <a thermodynamic system>

b (1) : a group of body organs that together perform one or more vital
functions <the digestive system> (2) : the body considered as a
functional unit

c : a group of related natural objects or forces <a river system> 

d : a group of devices or artificial objects or an organization
forming a network especially for distributing something or serving a
common purpose <a telephone system> <a heating system> <a highway
system> <a data processing system>

e : a major division of rocks usually larger than a series and
including all formed during a period or era

f : a form of social, economic, or political organization or practice
<the capitalist system>

2 : an organized set of doctrines, ideas, or principles usually
intended to explain the arrangement or working of a systematic whole
<the Newtonian system of mechanics>

3 a : an organized or established procedure <the touch system of

b : a manner of classifying, symbolizing, or schematizing <a taxonomic
system> <the decimal system>

4 : harmonious arrangement or pattern : ORDER <bring system out of
confusion -- Ellen Glasgow>

5 : an organized society or social situation regarded as stultifying :

So we can say that an "information system" is any construct in (2)
that satisfies the condition in (1) above. You define technology as
"the use of artefacts to achieve an objective." Webster's defines
"artefact" thus :

1 a : something created by humans usually for a practical purpose;
especially : an object remaining from a particular period <caves
containing prehistoric artifacts>

b : something characteristic of or resulting from a human institution
or activity <self-consciousness... turns out to be an artifact of our
education system -- Times Literary Supplement>

2 : a product of artificial character (as in a scientific test) due
usually to extraneous (as human) agency.

In which case, I can say that the human nervous system is one that
uses zero "technology" since :

(1) it is a system, since it is "a regularly interacting or
interdependent group of items forming a unified whole."

(2) it is an information system, since it facilitates "the
communication or reception of knowledge or intelligence."

For instance, supppose you touch something warm. How do you know it's
warm ? because the senses in your fingertips transfer data to your
brain, which interprets the data and hands you the information that
you are touching something warm. The human nervous system is an
information system, but it does not use "technology" as you define it,
since it does not employ the use of any artifacts at all.

(ii) You have to define 'extensive' here. How 'extensive' is extensive
? the internet, say ? probably the world's largest information system

for (iii) :

(i) smoke signals 
(ii) drum signals
(iii) cave paintings
(iv) hieroglyphics

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