Information sharing describes the exchange of data between various organizations, people and technologies.
There are several types of information sharing:
Information shared by individuals (such as a video shared on Facebook or YouTube)
Information shared by organizations (such as the RSS feed of an online weather report)
Information shared between firmware/software (Such as the IP addresses of available network nodes or the availability of disk space)
The advent of wide distributed networks, intranets, cross-platform compatibility, application porting, and standardization of IP protocols have all facilitated the huge growth in global information sharing.
When it comes to personal information however, no matter how easy it is to port the actual data, there are laws in most countries prohibiting the sharing of personal data without explicit permission being granted. In the US and Europe it is a criminal offense to share any personal data about anyone without such explicit permission.
There is plenty of other information sharing that does not fall under the law and information sharing is increasing as more networks and organizations connect and information becomes easier to share across the internet.
Data was formerly frequently kept in silos and often not shared among other entities due to its proprietary, non-portable format or the inability to import/export data. Even simple items such as dates were stored in a whole range of different formats making the sharing of such a simple field a potential nightmare. The same applied to a whole range of data, and even if it was compatible it was often not possible to physically transfer the data from one platform to another.
Today these problems have all been coded out and information sharing is common between computer networks; information sharing has become especially prevalent due to social networking. These 21st century network models actively encourage the sharing of information across social networks.
Facebook has 750 million accounts, YouTube has over 400 million and the other social networking sites and applications have established between them a sharing network of over a billion people. In terms of information sharing this is a global proportion with almost 10% of the world's population sharing information across common networks regularly.
After the terrorist attacks of September 11th, information sharing became one of the United States government's goals in developing their resources to try to avert such atrocities. It was mandated among government agencies and departments that personnel create a methodology for regularly sharing relevant information. The US needed information sharing improvements to respond to various threats more effectively. The lesson was learned that when information is hoarded instead of shared, those needing it may not be able to react in a timely manner Using information sharing intelligently has been shown to be a more effective way to manage any organization; a government or a business.
Information sharing is crucial to many businesses, helping to promptly meet customer and client needs through customer relationship systems which share information about products and services and improve access to their customers.
Information sharing has also allowed easy availability of credit history details which helps consumers access more services. Consumers can have access to banking, financial and credit products from across the nation and even internationally where appropriate.
Hospitals sharing medical records (under stringent conditions) about people so that their medical personnel can make better decisions, is a good example of how organizations can share information for productive purposes rather than for social entertainment as with Facebook.
Overall, when used intelligently, information sharing is a useful way of lowering costs, improving overall accuracy of public data and allowing organizations and individuals alike to have access to information that they might need and entertainment that they want to experience.