[SIGCIS-Members] Origin of term "information silo"?

JoAnne Yates jyates at MIT.EDU
Fri Aug 2 13:14:13 PDT 2013

I don't know for sure which came first, but the term "organizational silos" has been around for a long time, and it could have come from that.

JoAnne Yates
Sloan Distinguished Professor of Management
MIT Sloan School of Management E62-335
100 Main St.
Cambridge, MA 02142
jyates at mit.edu

-----Original Message-----
From: members-bounces at sigcis.org [mailto:members-bounces at sigcis.org] On Behalf Of Janet Abbate
Sent: Friday, August 02, 2013 3:11 PM
To: sigcis
Subject: [SIGCIS-Members] Origin of term "information silo"?

Does anyone know the origin of the term "information silos"? It's commonly used as a criticism of groups that don't share information for either organizational or technical reasons. 

This has always struck me as an odd metaphor. After all, in real life it's a good thing that grain is isolated in a silo; there is no physical-world benefit to connecting or "busting" silos, so how did this become a metaphor for good information management? And why would slowly fermenting fodder be a good metaphor for information?

I'm assuming here that the term refers to farming and not to missile silos... which would be equally odd. 


Dr. Janet Abbate
Associate Professor 
Science & Technology in Society
Virginia Tech

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