Information Cultures in the Digital Age

Editors: Kelly, Matthew, Bielby, Jared (Eds.), Springer Verlag

This publication in honour of our colleague and master Rafael Capurro is for BITrum a remarkable opportunity to celebrate his patient work, dedication, inspiration and always ready friendship. The publication in itself represents a major contribution to the confrontation of problems in which BITrum is engaged since its origins.

Mundo digitalFor several decades Rafael Capurro has been at the forefront of defining the relationship between information and modernity through both phenomenological and ethical formulations -as we can see for instance in our glossariumBITrum-. In exploring both of these themes Capurro has re-vivified the transcultural and intercultural expressions of how we bring an understanding of information to bear on scientific knowledge production and intermediation. Capurro has long stressed the need to look deeply into how we contextualize the information problems that scientific society creates for us and to re-incorporate a pragmatic dimension into our response that provides a balance to the cognitive turn in information science.

With contributions from 35 scholars from 15 countries, Information Cultures in the Digital Age focuses on the culture and philosophy of information, information ethics, the relationship of information to message, the historic and semiotic understanding of information, the relationship of information to power and the future of information education. This Festschrift seeks to celebrate Rafael Capurro’s important contribution to a global dialogue on how information conceptualisation, use and technology impact human culture and the ethical questions that arise from this dynamic relationship.

The Editors

Matthew Kelly is a scholar at Curtin University’s Department of Information Studies and at the International Institute for Hermeneutics.

Jared Bielby currently serves as Co-Chair for the International Center for Information Ethics and Editor for the International Review of Information Ethics.

How to Purchase the Book

The E-Book will be available in July 2016 with print to follow shortly after.

Go to Springer’s site to purchase

Rainer E. Zimmermann-Metaphysics of Emergence. Part 1-On the Foundations of Systems




Published in 2015 by Xenomoi Verlag, 272 pp.

This constitute a first part of what our colleague Rainer Zimmermann has been teaching us regarding the understanding of complexity, networks, systems, space and, of course, information as key concept of the dynamics of emergence. Among his reflections we can find relevant conclusions to the interdisciplinary conceptual and theoretical elucidation we are striving for through our glossariumBITri. You can find in this work a further elaboration of seminars, articles and contributions to congress in which BITrum has been involved for the last 5 years.

In fact, the theory of (emergent complex) systems as a recently more forthcoming (and somewhat reformed) discipline in its own right has been object of acute and intensive discussion and of a rather dynamical evolution, respectively, for quite some while. Unfortunately, this still ongoing discussion has not been very successful so far as to clarifying the most elementary and fundamental issues of definition and the consequences derived there-from. This is mainly because the otherwise welcome interdisciplinary discourse has been dominated originally by protagonists from the fields of economics, management, and the social sciences, in the first place, rather than by those of the more formalized sciences such as physics. However, the degree of universality of a theory is likely to increase with its connectivity to mathematics. Hence, in order to obtain a self-consistent theory of systems that displays a sufficient coherence with a view to its respective lexicology, syntax, and semantics, it is necessary to perform an explicit embedding into available formalisms of mathematical type such that its specific contextuality can be immediately reflected within the given frame of what is already known about the structure and evolution of nature. This motivation underlies this present project which can be understood as a survey on systems in terms of a suitable metaphysics of emergence. The mathematically based explication of systems is the first step (and thus constitutes the first volume) of a panoramatic approach to what we euphemistically call the world. But we shall bear in mind what the important point is after all: To look for the possibilities of grasping experience whilst recognizing that experience is always more than what can be said about it.

In XenomoiX

Capurro-RafaelAn article by Rafael Capurro, on Intercultural Information Ethics

There is an interesting ethical and intercultural discussion in the German newspapers (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Jan 13, 2015, No. 10, p. 8: “Angst vor Blasphemie. Die britische und amerikanische Pressse und die Moral” by Jochen Buchsteiner and Andreas Ross) about how the US (The NY Times, The Washington Post but also CNN) and UK (Dominic Lawson) newspapers refused to publish the Mohammed satirical cartoons of Charlie Hebdo because of ‘internal rules’ based on the precept that the US is a multi-cultural country with a special sensitivity about not insulting minorities of any kind. Some German journalists view this as a kind of cowardice coming paradoxically from countries that defend freedom of speech and freedom of the press. British journalists such as Nigel Lawson, Peter Hitchens and Rod Liddle are seen as ‘politically correct’ and defenders of public morality, “Sittenwächter” or guardian of morality, which is a very negative concept in German. My impression is that the Anglo-Saxon culture is less ‘fundamentalist’, or more pragmatic than the German culture is. Consider the difference between satire and insult or hate speech or hate pictures, as Dean Baquet, executive editor of The New York Times, has outlined. Is this decision really a product of having fear (“Angst”), of being blasphemic, or is it the result of weighing prudently (Aristotle’s phronesis)? Or is it ‘just’ practical cleverness in this particular situation, taking into consideration the global impact of what is locally published independently? If I know that the people I am attacking or ridiculing are anything but rational and that their reaction will cause social disruption, is it ethically prudent to produce these kind of ‘blasphemies’, however otherwise viewed by ‘enlightened’ religions? Is it not possible to distinguish between critical speech and that which is considered by an ‘irrational other’ _as_ blasphemic? And is it not paradoxical in this situation that to defend our values in such a way is considered by said ‘irrational other’ as a kind of religious war? Did we not learn from Freud how to deal with the ‘irrational other’ in ourselves and in others? (more…)


Wolfgang Hofkirchner


Hackensack, NJ, World Scientific Publishing (Hardcover: 274 pp, 70$)

The 3th of the World Scietific Series in Information Studies edited by Mark Burgin

At the dawn of the information age, a proper understanding of information and how it relates to matter and energy is of utmost importance for the survival of civilization. Yet, attempts to reconcile information concepts underlying science and technology with those en vogue in social science, humanities, and arts are rather rare. This book offers a new approach, departing from fragmented information concepts.

Many academics refrain from undergoing unifications, as most undertakings are reductionistic. This book contends that it is the noble task of an as-yet-to-be-developed science of information to go one step in the direction of a unified theory of information without falling back into neither reduction nor anthropomorphisation.

To be able to succeed in an ambitious task like this, the book advocates the application of complex systems theory and its philosophical underpinnings. Information needs to be interpreted in terms of self-organisation to do justice to the richness of its manifestations. The way the book does so will provide the reader with a deep insight into a basic feature of our world. (more…)

Cover-Digital WhonessRafael Capurro, Micharl Eldred, Daniel Nagel


Heusenstamm, Germany, Ontos Verlag (Hardcover: 310 pp., 69€)

The first aim is to provide well-articulated concepts by thinking through elementary phenomena of today’s world, focusing on privacy and the digital, to clarify who we are in the cyberworld — hence a phenomenology of digital whoness. The second aim is to engage critically, hermeneutically with older and current literature on privacy, including in today’s emerging cyberworld. Phenomenological results include concepts of i) self-identity through interplay with the world, ii) personal privacy in contradistinction to the privacy of private property, iii) the cyberworld as an artificial, digital dimension in order to discuss iv) what freedom in the cyberworld can mean, whilst not neglecting v) intercultural aspects and vi) the EU context.

CONTENTS: 0) Introduction, 1) Phenomenology of whoness: identity, privacy, trust and freedom, 2) Digital Ontology, 3) Digital whoness in connection with privacy, publicity and freedom, 4) Intercultural aspects of digitally mediated whoness, privacy and freedom, 5) Cyberworld, privacy and the EU, 6) Brave new cyberworld.

An abridged version of this book was published as “IT and Privacy and Ethical Perspective – Digital Whoness: Identity, Privacy and Freedom in the Cyberworld” in Buchmann, J. (ed.): Internet Privacy – A Multidisciplinary Analysis, Berlin: Springer, 2012, pp. 63-141.  Accessible here

Kreativität und FormRainer Zimmermann


Berlin: Springer Verlag (129 pp., eBook: 23€, Hard-cover: 29€) in German

In his homonymic book, Herman Hesse sketches the idea of a Glass Bead game in which the “player plays like the organist on an organ. And this organ has attained an almost unimaginable perfection; its manuals and pedals range over the entire intellectual cosmos; its stops are almost beyond number. Theoretically this instrument is capable of reproducing in the Game the entire intellectual content of the universe.” The authors develop for the first time the possibilities and limits of such universal game with and about knowledge. The accompanying computer program enables the player to experiment with knowledge. Thereby the book stretches through computing methods its application domain from logic to system theory, to scientific- and knowledge theory, to semiotic, to cognition and communication.

Our colleague Rafael Capurro is interviewed by the Brazilian musician and intellectual Rob Ashtoffen. In the interview, held in Spanish, Prof. Capurro reflects on the ontological aspects of the Latin term “informatio” which connects with the classical metaphysical tradition, as well as on the epistemological aspects developed in the Latin usage of the term. In our days the ontological accent is particularly put on the digital with some kind of reductionism or violence: “what is not digitizable is not”