Wednesday, 31 October 2012

From Information to Technology

"What is information?" - this question will be guaranteed to cause maximum consternation and argument amongst cyberneticians - those who think about information more than anyone else.

"What is learning?" - this question will be guaranteed to cause maximum consternation and argument educationalists, learning technologists and the like - those who think about learning more than anyone else.

"What matters?"

Now that is a different sort of question. My family matters. Those that I love and care for and who love and care for me. Then the threats to those that I love and care for and the threats to me - they matter. And particularly the threats that may lie in the future for my daughter. They matter. Politics matters. And information and learning and education and knowledge and everything else is tied up in politics.

But we can't seem to get from "what is information?" to "what matters?". And we can't seem to get from "What is learning?" to "what matters?".

That's where I think technology is important.

Because to ask "What technology do we need?" is another way of asking "What matters?". The study of technology is political.

So the move from studying 'information' to the serious study of 'technology' is the move from worrying about epistemology to thinking about action.

Marx would be seriously into technology right now!!

So stuff the theory of information, or the theory of learning! We need a theory of technology - and then we need to act on it!


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Aaron Wieland said...

Perhaps even theories of computing itself are becoming more action-oriented. I liked this comment by Eric Evans, the inventor of domain-driven design:

"There have been a lot of schools of design in the past. There is, you know, and I talked about a lot of these that had influenced me in the old days like Design By Contract, Responsibility-Driven Design, and a lot of such things. And then the patterns movement and documentation of patterns and all these things, but I think right now that the way people are expressing these are more through frameworks that embody a philosophy, or a programming language that embodies a philosophy, or a database that structures information in a certain way. And so, it’s almost like these are the alternative to the book that lays out a philosophy. That’s the way people are expressing things right now."

Mark Johnson said...

Great to hear from you Aaron!

Thanks for the quote - I agree. I find it interesting the Floridi chose to call his Journal "Philosophy and Technology" rather than "Philosophy and Information" - especially since he's really a philosopher of information. Maybe I read too much in it, but I certainly think the study of technology is different from the study of information.

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