another session: social and/or general information?

From: Wolfgang Hofkirchner <>
Date: Mon 11 Nov 2002 - 16:01:02 CET

dear colleagues, dear friends,

as i have the honor to give the kickoff for another session, in which i
want you to discuss the contrubutions of john holgate, m. burgin, gottfried
stockinger and Pedro C. Marijuán, i will try to provoke exchange of points of view
by the following interventions.

at a first glance holgate and burgin discuss rather information in general,
stockinger and elohim discuss information within society. at a second
glance, however, the first two colleagues seem to talk about human
information only, while the latter seem to have in mind information
processes going on also beyond the realm of humans though they differ in
how to make the difference between human and extra-human information.

let's take john h.'s actually peripatetic work. in the first half of his
contribution he undertakes a deconstruction of the information concept
after which he leaves the reader confused, albeit on a higher level. in the
second part he tries to develop 10 principles from the syntax perspective.
reading them, i got the impression, information is something about which we
can reason only in the context of human mind. john, is this intended? do
you think a unified theory of information can only be applied to the sphere
of humans?

and let's take the 2 contributions of m. burgin. the author claims to have
developed a general theory of information. the second paper develops
ontological principles. one of the first states information to be seen in
relation to some system and, more specific, to some change of the system.
but the examples that are given later to illustrate various ontological
statements stem from the sphere of society and individuals. hence my
question (as before): is the system of the first principles meant to be a
human system exclusively?

stockinger focuses on social information processes as distinct from
(pre-human) biotic information processes. he points out that autopoiesis
gets a new feature when climbing up the ladder from living systems to
social systems. this new feature is an increase in the degrees of freedom,
manifested in the system's ability to create its enviromment and create
itself. the recent developments towards information or communication
society pushed forward by technological drive - do you think, godó, it is a
natural, an automatic, process that leads to ever more (degrees of)
freedom? do global challenges not confront humanity with possible

elohim opens an anthropological perspective beginning with antropogenesis
and is, contrary to stockinger, very doubtful about the ethical worth of
information. he seems to be a technological pessimist when being convinced
that information processes - contrary to the world of animals - in the
world of humans were functionalised for allowing one part of society
dominate another part. elohim, where is positive thinking? does the
evolution of information processing from pre-human stages up to the stage
of the information revolution merely represent a oneway to extinction?

in my view, the quest for a unified theory of information is inextricably
linked to the reflection of complex problems as they have been arising in
the course of human evolution.

now, let's try to come to a third glance of the papers!


wolfgang hofkirchner

institute of design and technology assessment
vienna university of technology

favoritenstrasse 9
a-1040 vienna
FON **431-58801-187-33
FAX **431-58801-187-97

Received on Mon Nov 11 16:02:51 2002

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