This report analyses the roles information and knowledge play in our society. We can also discuss if big quantities of data imply that we are well informed or if it destroys us physically and psychologically.

Finally I will analyse how can computer science and language technologies help us to manage information, and if language can be a barrier to communication.

Most of the material used in this report has been taken from the on-line pages shown in the REFERENCES.


Information has always being necessary for us, for our personal enrichment and very important to belong to this society in which everything is based on information and knowledge.

The aim of this report is to explain what does having information implies in the present society and how does it work.

First of all, we will define what information and knowledge are, and what about they are concerned. We will see that knowledge is more important that information.

Secondly, I will try to explain that having big amounts of information doesnít imply not only that we are well informed, but also that it can end in an illness. We can suffer from stress, among others, because we are not able to separate the essential information from the one that is not important.

Finally, we will explain how computer science and language technologies help manage information, and why language can sometimes act as a barrier to communication.



Firstly, we could define Information Management and Knowledge Management. Information Management is the harnessing of the information resources and information capabilities of the organisation in order to add and create value both for itself and for its clients or customers. On the other hand, Knowledge Management is a framework for designing an organisationís goals, structures and processes so that the organisation can use what it knows to learn and to create value for its customers and community.

Information Management is concerned with processing and adding value to information, and the basic issues include access, control, co-ordination, timeliness, accuracy and usability. Knowledge Management is concerned with using the knowledge to take action, in which its basic issues include codification, diffusion, practice, learning, innovation and community building.

We use the information to add and create values, ideas concepts, etc. and each person has the right to choose an amount of information which will be useful for him/her. On the other hand, knowledge has a more defining structure followed by an aim: exclude data, simplify the information in order to use which is necessary to obtain ours and our communityís achievement. That way we wonít get stressed by the big quantity of information which is stored in our brain.

Representing information.

We have two ways of representing information: Computational Grammar and Linguistic Grammar. The firs one is efficient, but it is difficult to express, and as it uses complex structure is more difficult to understand. The second one, tend to run slowly but are efficient at expressing linguistic information. If we want to use the first one we need interpreters that are typically inefficient.

Grammars are treated as rules and lexicons as facts which are compiled into a prolog form. Computational Grammar is the unification of these prologs, the most organised, , but this can have disadvantages in the speed, when we want to understand the information. That is, we can have problems when we want to understand the information rapidly because of:

- having big quantity of information not much simplified

- not having information, which can obstruct what is being communicating.

The best would be having an information easy to understand, a sophisticated one, which could maintain the speed and the precision of the Computational Grammar.


What having big quantities of information imply.

Some investigations found that having too much information could be as dangerous as having too little for our health, as Dr. David Lewis said.

Most bureaucrats, business executives, teachers, doctors, lawyers and other professionals suffer from information overload, or calling it technically "Information Fatigue Syndrome", which will be soon recognised medical condition. The symptoms of this syndrome include tension, occasional irritability and frequent feelings of helplessness, all of them sings that the victim is under considerable stress. That overload of information can lead, among other problems, to a paralysis of analysis, making it far harder to find the right solutions or make the best decisions.

Information stress sets in when people in possession of a huge volume of data have to work against the clock, and those people are incapable of organising all the information they have and acting immediately. As a result, they put at risk the life of patients in the case of doctors, or the money in the case of business executives, for example.

To challenge the "Fatigue Syndrome" the human body reacts with a primitive survival response. This evolved millions of years ago to safeguard us when confronted by physical danger. Nowadays, as millions of years ago, in these situations where the only two options are to kill the adversary or flee from it, the "fight-flight" response can make the difference between life and death.

It is hard to admit it, but the human being reacts this way. Normally peolpe flees from the problem, or he or she goes to the doctor asking help. But others, as we have seen all over the world, face the problem in the wrong way, killing the adversary, who can be his/her boss, neighbour, partner, etc.


How can computer science and language technologies help manage information?

New opportunities are becoming available to change the way we do many things, to make them easier and more effective by exploiting our developing knowledge of language.

Nowadays, machines can recognise different languages, so people all over the world can do well out of this technology. The benefit that this involve makes that any information of the different cultures of the world can be known.

Computer science also lets us make, for example, business transactions over the telephone or other telematic services. That is, having all facilities at the back of oneís hand.

When a machine understands human language, translates between different languages, and generates speech as well as printed output, we will have available an enormously powerful tool to help us in many areas of our lives.

The success of Language Engineering will be the achievement of all these possibilities. The pace of advance is accelerating and we will see many achievements over the next few years.

Language as a barrier to information.

Language is the most effective way to communicate with other people. But sometimes there can arise problems when we want to begin that communication. That is, between humans, understanding is limited to those groups who share a common language, thatís why language can be seen as a barrier to communication more than as an aid.




Thereís no doubt that having information and knowledge is necessary to belong to this society and to be literate. We could make to ourselves the 1million dollar question: which one is more important, knowledge or information? the answer could be that although knowledge can have its bases in information, is more important because knowledge makes us take action.

We have always thought that having big quantity of information made us more intelligent, and that it was useful. But after last investigations we have known that it can be dangerous for us if we donít select what the important information is, rejecting what is unuseful. If we donít do it, it can end in an illness called "Information Fatigue Syndrome", causing irritability and stress among others.

After doing this report I have learned that what we thought was an advantage for the human being can also be an obstacle: the language. Although computer science helps us reaching to those places and to do things that we could never imagine, the simplest thing and the most familiar for us, the language, can act as a barrier to communication in the systems, services and appliances, and also when we want to communicate with someone who belongs to a different language.




- FAQ on Information and knowledge Management. Faculty of Information Studies, University of Toronto.

- System overload by Maryann Bird. published in Time, 9.12.96 pp.44-45. (transcribed by Joseba Abaitua)

- Jeremy L Wyatt

Mon Feb 23 19:14:55 GMT 1998

- hltcentral.