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Information networks are networks that transmit information in versatile human and technical networks to enhance knowledge, business or social aims. Often they use information technology in contrast to biological neural networks or social networks research. They may use information portals or other types of collaborative networking for sharing information.

Information networks refer to using the contemporary networking technologies such as Internet and wireless communication for distributing and sharing information among individuals and these different technical networks that any human network can benefit of. Essentially, information network is linked to exchanging information between individuals and interest groups within and between human institutions such as companies, universities, research organizations, and communities.

The Structure of Information NetworksEdit

Network theory has been an area gaining increasing research interest in the last few decades. Information networks can be seen as networks of information processing units. This can be contrasted to material networks like logistics and supply-chain networks that are primarily meant for exchanging materials.

Information TransactionsEdit

The basic unit of the dynamics forming information networks can be seen as an "Information Transaction" involving the exchange of an information artifact (like a piece of news, a software application, a dataset, etc.) between two or more information processing units (human beings, software applications, etc.)

Networks like supply chains and logistics on the other hand, are meant primarily to handle material transactions. Information transactions possess certain contrasting characteristics from material transactions. For instance, information is transacted by "copy" while material is transacted by "move" operations. If a person A gives his car (a material artifact) to another person B, then A will not have the car anymore. On the other hand, if A gives a piece of news or a software application (an information artifact) to B, then A continues to possess the information artifact.

As a result, information transactions are "non-conserved" or "non-zero-sum" transactions. Unlike transactions in a material exchange network, the total amount of information in an information network grows over time.[1]

Differences in material exchange and information exchange seem to be reflected in large-scale network characteristics. Networks like supply-chain or logistics are known to display a Poisson degree-distribution, while most information networks like Email networks or WWW links are known to have a power-law degree distribution.[2]

Separation of information and material transactionsEdit

Historically, information transactions required a material "carrier" for transactions spanning across large distances and/or time. For instance, when we write a postal letter to someone, the basic transaction is an information transaction; which is made possible by the movement of the material artifact (the letter) acting as a carrier.

Current day technologies like the Internet, Email and mobile phones have effectively decoupled information transactions from material transactions. While material carriers are still used to transact information (in the form of cables, transceivers, etc.) there is no need to transact material for transacting information. We can draw parallels from physics, to heat transfer by conduction versus convection, for the above. The use of a material carrier is like information transfer using convection, while the use of cables for transferring information is like heat conduction.

Information Networks in natureEdit

Nature also seems to prefer this separation of information transfer from material transfer. Most highly-evolved organisms have separate networks for information exchange and material exchange. These are in the form of a nervous system and the blood circulatory system respectively.

It is also interesting to note that during the very early formative stages in the development of an organism, information exchanges take place over material carriers using mRNAs. Once the organism reaches a certain level of complexity, it becomes infeasible to carry out all information transactions using material carriers.

University Degree ProgramsEdit

There are multidisciplinary degree programs at certain universities for this theme that combine technical and human network studies in a scientific manner.

programs in information networking, information security, and information technology that integrate technologies, economics, and policies of secure communication networks. Programs are offered in the United States, Greece, Japan,India and Portugal.

Research Information NetworksEdit

Multidisciplinary Research NetworksEdit

CIESIN (The Center for International Earth Science Information Network) is an Information Network research center within the Earth Institute at Columbia University. CIESIN works at the intersection of the social, natural, and information sciences, and specializes in on-line data and information management, spatial data integration and training, and interdisciplinary research related to human interactions in the environment. Information Network can be established with industry and university, and focus on some specific area such as wireless communication research. At New Jersey’s Rutgers University industry-university cooperative research center Wireless Information Networks laboratory focused on wireless technology was founded in 1989. Another example is Center for Wireless Information Network Studies (CWINS) is a wireless research laboratory with research alliances with other industrial and academic groups. The center has performed research for government agencies and has close ties with the world-leading organizations in the wireless industry.

Information Network PortalsEdit

Information Network may be seen also as a www-portal, blog or library service. These examplify the human and technical sides of the information networking.

See alsoEdit


  1. Srinath Srinivasa. 2006. The Power Law of Information: Life in a Connected World Response Books, ISBN 0761935126.
  2. Venkat Venkatasubramanian, Santhoji Katare, Priyan R. Patkar, Fangping Mu: Spontaneous Emergence of Complex Optimal Networks through Evolutionary Adaptation CoRR nlin.AO/0402046: (2004)

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