The term informatics is used as an umbrella term to stand for the overlapping disciplinary areas of information systems, information management and information technology. The current paper is part of a series which documents an overarching attempt to develop a clearer and more sophisticated systematics for the area. It examines one of the foundation concepts of informatics – that of information – and aims to provide a definition for this concept based upon ideas from semiotics and communication theory. For this purpose we introduce the concept of a sign-system and consider the role such a system plays in human communication. We also highlight the fundamental difference between a communication system and an information system. To help ground our discussion and provide a necessary distance from the present-day concern with digital computing and communication networks we engage with the historiography of information. We consider the use of information in Neolithic times and describe the case of clay tokens in Ancient Sumeria as one of the earliest examples of information representation and manipulation. Examination of this case allows us to propose a number of universal features of information and ‘information technology’.
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