Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate - Information Technology/Principles of Information Processing Systems

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As highlighted by John L. Kmetz in The Information Processing Theory of Organization, there are four main stages of processing information: (1) acquisition or retrieval, (2) storage, (3) transformation, and (4) transmission. They generally occur in this order, but not always. First, acquisition and retrieval is the phase in which an individual seeks—or is given—some piece of information or knowledge. It may originate from inside the organization, outside the organization, or even within the mind of the individual who came upon it. Second, storage may occur in the individual's memory, or via computer or media. When information is stored (and/or disseminated) so that a wide number of employees, present and future, can retrieve it over time, it may lead to organizational learning and become part of the organizational memory. Third, transformation happens when individuals modify the information they receive for various purposes. They may analyze it to arrive at a judgment or inference about the information, or they may expand on it or condense it for some specific need, such as reporting a synopsis to colleagues or management. Fourth, transmission is the means by which the information is disseminated to others, beginning the acquisition process for them anew.

Kmetz also identified four components in what he termed the framework of information processing. These components specify the structure of an information processing system, whether human or machine. They are (1) sensors, (2) memory, (3) processing mechanisms, and (4) access mechanisms. Some of these correspond directly to stages of information processing, but there is some crossover. Sensors are input channels for acquiring information. They may include computer devices (e.g., a keyboard for data entry) or simply human senses like eyes and ears. Similarly, memory involves using the human mind or computer storage media for saving information for future use, whether it is needed for a few seconds or a few years. Related to the transformation stage, processing mechanisms are tools to control, organize, and modify information. The human mind and computer processors running application software are the most important kinds of information processing mechanisms. Lastly, access mechanisms allow retrieval and additional processing of information that has already been acquired and processed. Again, the human brain can serve as its own access device, but these mechanisms also include printed publications, computer interfaces, and other information retrieval tools.

Reference [1]