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Informality

Coiera, Enrico

HPL-97-37

Keyword(s):models; formal systems; communication systems; World Wide Web; user interface; information theory

Abstract: The notion of formal structure underlies the construction and operation of all our information systems. Data, programs and information models are all structured. As communication and information systems begin to merge, we are beginning to move away from traditional notions of formality. "Informal" information like voice and scribble is being captured and shared across communication channels. Distributed ownership of document creation and minimal standards of formalisation have fuelled the growth in the World Wide Web. This discussion document tries to set out a simple model of informality, as a first step in understanding how information and communication systems relate to organisational structure. In particular, a definition of informality will be offered for information, for processes, and finally for artefacts. The last is perhaps the most important, because it will bring us to the point where we can pose the question - how can we design systems that support informal information and informal processes?

7 Pages

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