Information history may refer to to each of the categories listed below (or to combinations of them). It should be recognized that the understanding of, for example, libraries as information systems only goes back to about 1950. The application of the term information for earlier systems or societies is a retronym.
The Latin roots and Greek origins of the word "information" is presented by Capurro & Hjørland (2003). References on "formation or molding of the mind or character, training, instruction, teaching" date from the 14th century in both English (according to Oxford English Dictionary) and other European languages. In the transition from Middle Ages to Modernity the use of the concept of information reflected a fundamental turn in epistemological basis – from "giving a (substantial) form to matter" to "communicating something to someone". Peters (1988, pp. 12–13) concludes:
In the modern era, the most important influence on the concept of information is derived from the Information theory developed by Shannon and others. This theory, however, reflects a fundamental contradiction. Qvortrup (1993) wrote:
In their seminal book The Study of Information: Interdisciplinary Messages, Machlup and Mansfield (1983) collected key views on the interdisciplinary controversy in computer science, artificial intelligence, library and information science, linguistics, psychology, and physics, as well as in the social sciences. Machlup (1983, p. 660) himself disagrees with the use of the concept of information in the context of signal transmission, the basic senses of information in his view al referring "to telling something or to the something that is being told. Information is addressed to human minds and is received by human minds." All other senses, including its use with regard to nonhuman organisms as well to society as a whole, are, according to Machlup, metaphoric and, as in the case of cybernetics, anthropomorphic.
Hjørland (2007) describes the fundamental difference between objective and subjective views of information and argues that the subjective view has been supported by, among others, Bateson, Yovits, Spang-Hanssen, Brier, Buckland, Goguen, and Hjørland. Hjørland provided the following example: