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

Martin Campbell-Kelly m.campbell-kelly at warwick.ac.uk
Fri Aug 2 13:21:51 PDT 2013


The first time I encountered this term was in the article in Scientific
American by Al Gore "Infrastructure for the Global Village", Sept 1991. 


Martin Campbell-Kelly, Dept of Computer Science
University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, U.K.
voice: +44 24 7652 3193 fax: +44 24 7657 3024
email: M.Campbell-Kelly at warwick.ac.uk 

-----Original Message-----
From: members-bounces at sigcis.org [mailto:members-bounces at sigcis.org] On
Behalf Of Janet Abbate
Sent: 02 August 2013 20:11
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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