Examining the historical roots and social aspects of the nature of information

Topic Description

The information age is an outcome of developments of computing and communications technology, but has consequences for the whole of human existence. Previously physical entities have become virtual, while experiences, relationships and transactions that were formerly enacted physically have moved into cyberspace. The impact upon society can be seen in many different ways, and it can readily be argued that only a sociotechnical understanding of information will be sufficient to explore its full nature. Moreover, the historical roots of information, and their links to various traditions in cybernetics and systems thinking, are not as well understood as they might be.

Specific topics might be:
* an examination of the main theorists and practitioners who have historically shaped understandings of information in a variety of disciplines
* a study of the links between the history of information theory and that of cybernetics and systems thinking
* qualitative studies (using methods such as case study or ethnography) of the social impacts of the transition of a particular knowledge domain (for example, friendship, money or urban life) from physical to informational
* an study of the connections between the huge body of sociological literature on the information age and more technical and philosophical understandings of information

Skills Required:

The candidate must be capable of, and comfortable in, engaging with a range of different disciplines. They must have a good grounding in information theory, cybernetics or systems theory; and be able also to work with either historical or social research methods.

Background Reading:

“Perspectives on Information”, Magnus Ramage and David Chapman (eds) Routledge, 2011.

tripleC: Cognition, Communication, Co-operation, vol. 11, no. 1 (2013), pp.1-126, http://triple-c.at/, ed. David Chapman & Magnus Ramage (Special Issue: “The Difference that Makes a Difference” 2011)

Kybernetes, vol. 43, no. 6 (2014), ed. Mustafa Ali (Special Issue on “The Difference That Makes a Difference”)

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