Journal of Intelligent Information Systems

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 127–144 | Cite as

Information ecology: open system environment for data, memories, and knowing

  • Karen S. BakerEmail author
  • Geoffrey C. Bowker


An information ecology provides a conceptual framework to consider data, the creation of knowledge, and the flow of information within a multidimensional context. This paper, reporting on a 1 year project to study the heterogeneity of information and its management within the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) community, presents some manifestations of traditionally unreported ‘invisible work’ and associated elements of informal knowledge and unarticulated information. We draw from a range of ethnographic materials to understand ways in which data-information-knowledge are viewed within the community and consider some of the non-linear aspects of data-knowledge-information that relate to the development of a sustained, robust, persistent infrastructure for data collection in environmental science research. Taking data as the unit of study, the notion of long-term research and data holdings leads to consideration of types of memory and of knowledge important for design of cyberinfrastructures. Complexity, ambiguity, and nonlinearity are part of an information ecology and addressed today by exploring multiple types of knowledge, developing information system vocabularies, and recognizing the need for intermediation.


Memory Infrastructure Information ecology Data management Long-term 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CaliforniaSan DiegoUSA
  2. 2.Santa Clara UniversitySanta ClaraUSA

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