HOW TO THINK ABOUT INFORMATION

"Principle of Generality: Other things being equal, pursue general or enduring topics."

- Steven H. Kim, The Essence of Creativity

PRINCIPIA INFORMATICA

the laws of informatics

PREFACE

The dynamics of information can be subsumed under three basic principles, the Laws of Informatics, just as the dynamics of matter can be described by Mechanics, and the dynamics of energy can be summarized by Thermodynamics. These Laws of Informatics constitute the theoretical foundations of the information age. Once clearly understood and conscientiously applied, they will ensure more productive information utilization, just as Mechanics facilitated the building of more effective structures, and Thermodynamics enabled the design of more efficient engines. In each case, the intrinsic limits on our experience imposed by the Laws of Informatics represent a new base line for both metaphysical postulates and moral principles.

The ensuing chapters recount the intellectual journey by way of which the Laws and some of their implications were recognized. First there is the context of the discovery, the problematique of technology policy. Next comes the story of the actual discovery, through a process that Edward De Bono subsequently called Concept Research and Development. Following that are sections on the profundities, psychological aspects, and policy ramifications of the Laws.

There is more involved here however, than just the author's (or the reader's) idle curiosity. Without the application of the Laws of Informatics, the information society faces a crisis of dysfunction, brought on by both quantitative overload and qualitative irrelevance. We must either learn to cope, or drown in the flood of data.

UNDERSTANDING THE BASIS OF THE INFORMATION AGE

TABLE OF CONTENTS

The Problematique

Chapter #1: The Technology Policy Systems
Chapter #2: Responsible Technology

The Principles

Chapter #3: Discovering the [Special] Laws of Informatics

Chapter #4: What is Information anyway?

Profound Implications

Chapter #5: Coping with Ignorance in the Information Age
Chapter #6: A New Strategy for Science?

Psychological Aspects

Chapter #7: Knowing One's Mind in the Information Age
Chapter #8: Developing a Personal Information Strategy

Policy Ramifications

Chapter #9: The Protection of Privacy
Chapter #10: Access to Information

Extensions and Applications

Chapter #11: Evaluation, Reformulation and Operationalization: The General Laws
Chapter #12: Developing Personal Knowledge-Work Skills (in process)

As the reader proceeds through the chapters of the manuscript, it may be noticed that there are some alterations in tone, organization, and wording. This is the result of writing on various themes, in diverging circumstances, at different times. Please bear with these stylistic shifts, and with the occasional repetition of subject-matter from chapter to chapter. I also want to emphasize that this is a work in progress. The first paper (on the original discovery), was written in 1989, and the first edition of the manuscript was completed in 1991. Since then however, I continue to do concept R&D on information science whenever I encounter related ideas, and that has lead to revisions and additions. Please e-mail me regarding any points which require clarification and/or elaboration, and I will respond as best I can.

cypher@sympatico.ca

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