2014 ISSEI Porto Conference
Images of Europe: Past, Present, Future

Information

Workshop: Information
Chair: Chris Bissell, The Open University, UK, chris.bissell@open.ac.uk

This workshop will bring together eight to ten presenters in a four-hour session to present a broad historical view of the evolving nature and understanding of “information”, from its European (and other) origins to its internationalisation, predominantly through the United States. Beginning with medieval manuscripts and the network of mobile scholars who transmitted such documents within Western and Central Europe, then the printing press,and currently the global significance of “information” in the age of the Internet and the World Wide Web, the session will attempt to situate the changing notion of information in both its historical and contemporary contexts.

In the 1933 edition of the Oxford English Dictionary the word “information” referred primarily to personal data, to a piece of news or intelligence, or to various specialised legal uses. But by the time the 1986 edition appeared, a remarkable transformation had taken place. In addition to traditional meanings, a plethora of new terms appears: information content, desk, explosion, flow, gap, office, service, storage, system, transfer, work, carrying, gathering, giving, seeking, bureau, officer, processing, retrieval, science, technology – and, of course, ‘the information revolution’.

Much has been written linking the printing revolution, the development of the telegraph, and the modern ubiquitous ICT technologies. Rather less has considered academic and mathematical approaches to quantifying information, although the work of Boltzmann and Shannon is fairly well known – but often misunderstood.

The workshop thus aims to bring together academic representatives of art and cultural history, specialists in modern ICT, mathematicians, systems thinkers, as well as others who can shed light on the development of this extraordinary concept of “information”  that is currently claimed to be changing the lives of more or less everyone.

One page abstracts are invited as soon as possible to the Workshop Chair:

Chris Bissell
Professor of Telematics
The Open University
United Kingdom
chris.bissell@open.ac.uk

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