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

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…)

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

Interviewer: Anthony Hoffmann

Interviewee: Elizabeth Buchanan

Earlier this month, Anthony Hoffmann (University of Wisconsin Ph.D. student and Project Assistant with the Internet Research Ethics Digital Library, Resource Center, and Commons project) sat down with Dr. Elizabeth Buchanan (Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, director of the Center for Information Policy Research, and Principal Investigator on the same IRE project) for a friendly conversation regarding the subject of Internet research ethics.

Your work is focused in the area of Internet research ethics (IRE). Can you speak briefly about the field and your experiences in it?

I’ve been working in the area of Internet research ethics, really, since 1998. When I wrote my dissertation, it was studying online interactions in a Bioethics course in a medical school, and when I went through the Institutional Review Board (IRB), I had to explain how I was collecting data when I would never sit f2f with the participants. I had to justify issues of consent, pseudonymity, online interviewing, data storage, and the like, and at that time, the IRB was not very well versed in online research. What got me really piqued was when the course I was studying was focusing on traditional research ethics issues, justice, consent, beneficience, so, I was experiencing a very meta-level engagement with the issues while grappling with them in this online setting.


Our colleague and member of the Science Advisory CommitteeLuciano Floridi, held a professorial lecture at the University of Herfordshire on March 23th. It was recorded and can be accessed in the Website of the University.

In the history of human knowing there have been radical changes in the way we conceive our place among other beings in the universe. The way we look at ourselves, what are our expectations, endeavours, responsibilities… depends dramatically on this conception of our place in the realm of beings. The development of IT is “not only changing how we deal with the world and make sense of it, or interact with each other” -which is plenty of practical consequences-; we are also attending (after Copernico, Darwin and Freud) to a forth shift in the human-conciousness affecting what roles and responsibilities we assume.

Our colleague Luciano -in his characteristic clear and sharp style- poses questions and arguments concerning the very Science of Information. In the necessary equilibrium between the technical and natural world -pointed out by Floridi, as an state we should strive for if we decide to life in a decent world-, the Science of Information could play a significant role.

Page where the video stream is available:

We wish to express our gratitude to the University of Herfordshire, to whom we ask for the possibility of making the lecture somehow available.