In this essay I will give some insight about the results of my quest as archivist to understand the fundamentals of information. It is about trying not only to understand the complexity, but most and for all to grasp or grock this phenomenon. With the verb grock one indicates that he or she is to understand completely and thoroughly an object, subject or issue (Heinlein 1961). At some point it was for me a surprise to notice that the common perception of complexity of information and information management overshadows the relative simplicity of the outcome of the grocking.
As a result of this journey I was able to develop a basic information model or framework that consists at its core only of three basic interconnected elements. Each element has its own characteristics. An information model is for me a somewhat formal abstract description of objects, attributes, relationships, and rules in a particular domain. It was for me a feasible answer to questions about the possibility to come up with an information model including a model for sharing and exchange of information independent of social, organizational and technical changes and at the same time a model compliant to the required qualities and retention interests. This model I call defiantly the Leeuwarder Information Model (LIM) because there it came eventually to existence. Although it is a kind of archival information model I found it somewhat insolent to call it so. There are indeed enough other archival information models around.
Despite the organizational or cultural background of actors and despite what technical instruments are used for processing information there is always a consistent undercurrent. An undercurrent from the viewpoint of information as a constant factor with basic interwoven notions or concepts as context, documents or more neutral information objects, activities, communication or exchange and particularly also notions about their mutual dependencies.
The sum of these three elements can be called meaningful information (MI). These three elements also determine whether or not a set of meaningful information makes up an archival record. Information is considered a record when it can be used in a personal or organizational context as evidence of a transaction, for reasons of compliancy, conformancy and governance. It is mostly about administrative, legal, fiscal values. As a rule one can say a record is always meaningful information, but not all meaningful information is record. Meaningful information is only a record because we want it to be a record. One could say a record is a construct that lies in the eyes of the beholder. But to avoid further distraction this essay is not about the definition of records and recordness. That is a discussion that has to take place elsewhere.
A real surprise was to observe that essential parts of my notion of meaningful information could be annex to the concept of semantic information (SI) of Floridi (2010). A discovery I found worthwhile to look further into.