Information Systems

Not Artifacts but Models
  • Graham Paton


I wonder who first coined the phrase “information system”. At the time it probably seemed a very useful way of focusing thought on a particular type of system. Like all labels in language, it will have achieved common usage because it was useful. But perhaps we’ve now exploited it too much and in so doing manoeuvred ourselves into a semantic cul-de-sac. In this short paper I shall try to show that the phrase has a dangerously harmful effect in its current use and suggest how we might begin to overcome this.


General Manager Computer Support Contextual Knowledge Soft System Methodology Oxford English Dictionary 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Beer, S., 1985, “Diagnosing the System for Organisations”, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, England.Google Scholar
  2. Checkland, P.B., 1981, “Systems Thinking, Systems Practice”, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, England.Google Scholar
  3. Checkland, P.B., 1988, The case for holon, Systems Practice 1:3, pp 235–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Checkland, P.B., and Scholes, 19 J., 1990, “Soft Systems Methodology in Action”, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, England.Google Scholar
  5. Course T301, 1991, “Complexity Management and Change — A Systems Approach”, The Open University, Milton Keynes, England.Google Scholar
  6. Koestler, A., 1978, “Janus: a summing up”, Hutchinson, London, as cited in Checkland and Scholes, 1990. Oxford English Dictionary, 1994, Oxford University Press, London.Google Scholar
  7. Shannon, C.E., 1948, A mathematical theory of communication, Bell Systems Techn. J. 27, pp 379–423, and 623-656.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Graham Paton
    • 1
  1. 1.The Open UniversityBristolUK

Personalised recommendations