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Semantics of Information Systems

In the 1970ies semantics of information systems become very interesting, because computer-based information systems are looked upon as men-to-men communication system embedded in an organizational structure.

Leif B. Methlie also looks upon information systems in this way. He describes a simple communication model on which the conceptual framework to understand and describe information systems should be based on.

Figure 1. A simple communication model.

Methlie treats information systems from a communicational point of view. In his opinion it is very important to be particularly interested in interpersonal communicational aspects to study semantical aspects. He also says that it is necessary to inquire into other disciplines, particularly psycholinguistics, to get a better understanding of semantical aspects of information systems.

Figure 2. The enlarged communication model.

The enlarged communication model emphasizes the mapping process from real world phenomena into signs or data representations. It also illustrates the role of the message in information processing and the important aspect of semantics and the correspondence between data symbols and real world phenomena in the design of information systems. The model can be used to illustrate many aspects that are relevant to computer based system design such as data semantics, system models, the data system as a channel of communication and the data system as a human construct based upon knowledge of the information needs to initiate and control actions.

Methlie also develops a conceptual framework of information system design. The framework should provide a systematic and stepwise procedure towards a computer system. So a system analyst just needs  three sets of concepts and models that are shown in figure 3.

Figure 3. The Conceptual Framework of Information System Design.

More information

Leif B. Methlie


Methlie, Leif B: A Discussion Paper on Semantics of Information Systems, WG 8.2 meeting in Brussels 9th-10th June 1977.