Friday, September 26, 2008

Information Environment

An information environment can be characterized as the set of networks or online services that support publishing and use of information and learning resources1. There probably isn’t a perfect information environment but we can only make use of these systems to their fullest potential.

There are countless numbers of information environments present in the world today. With the fast development of technology, various information environments have grown so big that they are able to span the whole world. One example of an information environment I can give is the internet, particularly the famous websites of Google and Yahoo! These sorts of information environments are very big and complicated. Like I said, because of the elevating complexities of modern living, information environments also go with the trend.

As a student, I can only think of an ideal information environment. There are certain components that I want to be present in an information environment which I think will benefit me as a student. An ideal information environment for me would be like a Virtual Learning Environment or an Intelligence Department in a company. Since learning never stops, it is desirable to have an information environment that would be able to house all the new information. In short, an expandable and flexible environment is advantageous.

The amount of digital information available also seems infinite. Based on experience, to be able to get the exact information I want, I have to browse through numerous pages before actually acquiring the information I need. Now, in my opinion, a desirable information environment should be one that provides the user with ease in searching for relevant information. Having to go through a complex set of web browsers and search engines reduces the intake of digital information because users tend to spend more time looking for relevant information rather than getting them. Moreover, digital information tends to be generalized or international. I’ve had difficult experiences when looking for local information. So, it would also be desirable that an information environment provides the users with access to both local and international content. It must also be noted that most users do not like having to look through hundreds of pages of mixed searches. So, I suggest that an ideal information environment should segregate local and international resources for the users’ convenience. It must provide customized searching to enhance the users’ intake of digital information.

In the institution that I go to, I cannot identify an effective information environment. Although we do have access to the Internet, it’s pretty much useless because of the fluctuating connection. Therefore, an ideal information environment should be one that provides continuous service and support to the users. It should always offer the users access to the information that they need at any time. It should be an environment where users can actively and quickly process information for their needs.

An ideal information environment should also be able to house diverse kinds of digital resources while maintaining the usability and ease-of-access for the users. A desirable environment should be able to accommodate the rapidly evolving forms of digital information. These forms that I’m talking about are the audio, video, data and others. With the never-ending evolution of digital media, an information environment should be flexible to accept the new development. For a more advantageous operation, it should be able to deliver these contents efficiently to the users.

Probably, the most important characteristic of an information environment is interaction. An environment does not consist of only one being. It is an internetwork, an interweaving thread of digital resources. Therefore, this kind of environment should not be made rigid and one-sided. I think that an ideal information environment should be one that does not only allow the users to access and view digital information but also should allow them to modify the information. In my point of view, information or knowledge is not a stable thing. Many changes and new discoveries are being made and an effective information environment should be able to address these changes and inform the users about them. For an environment to be interactive, it is necessary that it allows the users to share information via digital means. This process is similar to peer-to-peer communication or online file-sharing. Of course, it should be made sure that information exchanged is true and valid.

Finally, a secure information environment where users can interact safely is a must. An ideal information environment should assure the users that the resources that they are getting are safe. Even though creating a completely secure working environment is impossible in my opinion, it should be able to minimize the risks and threats that the users are faced with. With this, we can be assured of efficient and reliable information exchange.

After identifying an information environment of my choice and presenting my views on what characteristics it should possessed, as a student and a part of an information environment, I have a role that I wish to perform.

As I am still a mere student, I cannot say that my role in this environment is very big but I believe that it is crucial. Right now, I am still a member/user of this information environment. As a user, I emphasize the importance of information environments. I have to play my part as the benefactor of the services offered by this environment. I have the responsibility of following the environment protocols and using the digital resources to my advantage. The resources that I am able to access should be put to good use and utilized so that I can help this environment prosper someday. My role as a user is what keeps the information environment alive and active because without users like me, these environments are considered dead and useless. I can relate this role to what I learned in Human Resource Management. Even if an organization has become dependent on technology, humans still run the organization and keep it working. In the same way, the existence of users like myself is what’s been giving purpose and meaning to this digital environment.

In the future, my role in the information environment will eventually change. By then, I will be one of those checking and monitoring the environment so that the users will be able to access information easily and efficiently. I will perform the role of developing new and innovative ideas and services to enhance digital information exchange and enrich the learning and research process. I will be a part of a collaborative community that manages this environment and provide fast and reliable service to all users of the digital resources. I will contribute to the bank of knowledge and information in the environment so that I can share my own resources. As a constant user and contributor to the environment, I will become a role model to the other people in the community. By showing them how to utilize the resources provided by the information environment, I am not defeating the purpose of this digital information exchange system and am giving it its due credit as a dynamic information environment.

For me to be able to perform my role now and my role in the future, there are certain principles of information organization and representation that I need to take note of. These principles serve as my guidelines so that I will know my privileges and limitations as a part of the whole information environment. These principles are the foundation of the whole system and as an important part of this so-called information environment, I have the responsibility of upholding these principles and living up to them. In representing information, I should also be careful to access only those resources that are safe and beneficial for me and to other people. We should be careful about how we represent information because it can come in many forms and so we must be sensitive to the needs of the members or users of the information environment.

Clearly, establishing an effective, efficient and reliable information environment is not an easy task to do. It could take even a joint effort of all the “techy guys” in the world but we still can not be ascertained of a fully functional and risk-free environment. Before attaining this ideal information environment, there are certain challenges that we have to face. I can identify a few challenges that I will probably face while performing my role in the information environment. The first challenge that I will face is the limited number of resources. Although my concept of an information environment is one where users can gain access to any information that they need, based on experience, there are just times when I just can not get the exact information that I want. In a way, this defeats the purpose of the whole information environment because not all of the information are present.

Now, I also mentioned that an ideal information environment should be one that provides beneficial information to the users. I, as a user, should also be focused on gaining access to the information that I need. However, because of the presence of miscellaneous and irrelevant resources, my attention gets diverted from the actual information that I want to gather. In short , there are certain distractions and temptations that prevent me from getting what I want. A clear example that I can give is researching on the Internet. It is true that the Internet has a wide range of relevant resources where I can possibly acquire the information that I need. However, because the Internet is a free and open environment, there are many distractions that pull me away from the more important task of gathering the information that is beneficial to me. Based on experience, whenever I use the Internet as a tool for research, I get diverted to doing other matters that are not important. This is a challenge that I think is very difficult to overcome.
Another challenge that I can also identify is the challenge in the security of the information environment. Because information is a crucial ingredient in our everyday lives, it needs to be as accurate and as reliable as possible. If not, the whole information environment would be a failure because it can not provide the efficient and reliable service that it is supposed to give to the users. Therefore, maintaining the security and reliability of the information environment poses a great challenge to all the people who make use of its services.

I also mentioned that my ideal information environment is one that is flexible and expandable. Because of this, there is another challenge that hinders me from performing my role in the information environment. The challenge here is to make sure that, despite its large scale, the information environment is properly maintained and taken care of. Since it is an expandable system, constant monitoring and updating should be done.

Finally, and probably the most influential factor, or challenge, that I face is the financial problem. It is good to aspire of an information environment where I can easily and safely gain access to information that I need. However, all the other challenges that I mentioned above are also connected in some way to the available financial resources. I must admit that in order to achieve this ideal information environment, I have to spend a lot of time, effort and money. It can't be helped that possibly a large sum of money is needed to properly implement and maintain an information environment. Even though it is said that the lack of money should not hinder progress, we must admit that it definitely has a great influence on how far we can go on developing such projects.

Now that I have identified the possible challenges that will slow me down in performing my rightful duty in the information environment, I also have devised a strategy of my own in order to decrease, if not totally overcome, the challenges that I mentioned. Since I want an interactive information environment, I must be open-minded to the ideas of other people. I should not limit myself only to what I know because there is a lot of knowledge in the world that I do not know of. By opening my mind to other ideas and using collaborative effort with my peers, together we can create a desirable information environment that could cater to the needs of any kind of user. Also, since I have limited resources, I have to be creative and resourceful in performing my role in order to get the most out of what I have. I must have a clear and straight mind when performing my role to avoid getting distracted by trivial matters and to be able to focus more on the things that need attention. With constant interaction, adjustment and implementation, I could possibly attain this ideal information environment and perform my role in its never-ending cycle of information exchange.

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