(message I, from Michel Petitjean about the contents of the COST Proposal)

Dear All,

I would just add two points:

(1) In the paragraph: << There is information in cells... >>
it would be useful to add that information is stored in
data banks as results of measures etc., and that data
mining techniques, which are primarily intended to retrieve
information in databanks, concerns us.
Data banks and data mining are thus relevant keywords.

(2) There was recently a debate on the FIS forum about the
nature of information in respect to its denumerability:
- We can say that there are many informations, and so we can count 
- We can say that there is much information and information is not 
I would like to hear discussions about this deep aspect of the nature of 
Raphael Capurro and other contributors have given interesting thoughts 
about it.
But behind that there is a crucial problem to solve.

Best regards,


-------- Message d'origine--------
De: joe.y.ento...@gmail.com de la part de José María Díaz Nafría
Date: ven. 27/03/2009 15:10
À: Elisabeth Buchanan; Capurro, Rafael; Fleissner, Peter; Floridi, 
Luciano; Fuchs, Christian; Birger Hjørland; Hofkirchner, Wolfgang; 
Marijuán, Pedro; PETITJEAN Michel; Paco Salto; Pérez-Montoro Gutiérrez, 
Objet : COST-preliminary proposal / apologies
Dear friends:

   First of all -please- let me apologize for my long and unpardonable
delay. But since Wednesday, we saw that in order to properly apply to
the national funding we had to apply not only to COST but also to
EUROCORES (of the European Science Foundation). Although the COST
application is much shorter than the other this forced us to
articulate them so that no friction is produced between the three
proposals (national, Cost and Eurocores). That forced us to work
through the loneliness and tiredness of nights. We bring you now the
preliminary proposal for COST. If you disagree somehow, or find any
improvement, please let us know, and consider -in any case- that a
more consistent proposal will be elaborated in a further stage if this
is approved. If your improvements arrive after the deadline, these
will be incorporated afterwards if we are lucky enough. At this stage
the names of the members will not be considered, but only that a
minimal number of cost-countries are represented.

    Hereby, I append the plain text of the proposal. Let me now
appreciate your patience and receive our most cordial gratitude and



* Proposal title

Interdisciplinary elucidation of the information concept. Theories,
Metaphores and Applications

* Abstract

This interdisciplinary research focus on the very concept(s) of
information, and aims at unifying perspectives and integrating
techniques from different fields of knowledge and practice. This
proposal is based on an already active interdisciplinar European
community. We investigate which are, if any, the basic distinct
notions of information to be applied in fields from telecommunication
to philosophy, from biology to documentation, from logic to quantum
physics. Which are, if any, the alternative ways of measuring
information? Which concepts of content are primitive? Which values
does practice of information technology presuppose? The project works
within a broad theoretical perspective in which alternative specific
presuppositions and interests are considered. No particular
theoretical agenda is presupposed.

The proposed COST action enhances communication and collaboration
within our merging interdisciplinar community. We have already
developed a number of meetings, webs and collaborative tools,
including an international Glossary on Information concepts, theories
and metaphors, conceptual maps and a repository on information
concepts. This action may improve the actual collaborarion and
facilitate the participation of further european researchers and

Participants in the action are main researchers in relevant fields
from distinct European institutions. Moreover, the project itself
-even without the action- counts with an ellaborate working
methodology, which includes disciplinar, collaborative and global
levels of research. This methodology will improve and benefit from the
proposed COST action.

* Key Words (400 chr)

Information, Informational content, Information Measure, Information
Science, Philosophy of Information, Bioinformation, Information
Technologies, Information Ethics

* Cost Domain

Trans Domain Proposal
Domains covered:
- Biomedicine and Molecular Biosciences
- Individuals, societies, cultures and Health
- Information and Communications Technologies

* Text of proposal


In contrast with the population in the iron age, who had no chance to
understand the concept of iron, we are able in the information age to
ask ourselves about the very nature of the information concept,
setting forth new ways of understanding its content, its measure and
its value, as studied and applied in all different scientific,
technical and institutional contexts. This proposal presents a
scattered group of scientists and thinkers actively concerned with the
interdisciplinary elucidation of the concept of information in all its

There is information in cells, words, antennas, skin, cables,
thoughts, electrons, brains, communities, robots, populations,
institutions... Hence the essence of this proposal is its genuine
interdisciplinarity, crossing not only different disciplines, but also
distinct fields of knowledge and practice, as it is outlined below.

Our problems are: Is there a unified cluster of concepts of
information under all these uses of "information"? Are there new ways
of measuring information other than bits? Which are, if any, the
meta-properties of informational content? Which are the presupposed
values by different information concepts and practices?

The current state of the art regarding notions of information includes
distinct ongoing paradigms, such as: entropic (Mathematical Theory of
Communication); algorithmic (Algorithmic Information Theory); situated
(infon theory); intentional (cognitive science, decision theory);
semantic (linguistics, communication theory); system (cybernetics);
evolution (biology, social theory)... That is to say, different
disciplines presuppose distinct paradigms. Our proposal opens a space
for contact among them, searching for interdisciplinary approaches to
theoretical, technical and practical problems.

Although several attempts to subsume this diversity into a single
paradigm have existed, the complexity and diversity of all involved
phenomena and problems lead us to the conclusion that no specialized
point of view will embrace all this diversity, so that the
interdisciplinary approach is unavoidable. Moreover, the standard
organization of  academic life does not help to find the frame in
which a solvent group of scientists from different fields meet to
share their specific points of view (mature in the observance of
social and scientific interests). A fruitful idea may arise in the
sinus of an academic community, able -perhaps- to illuminate other
knowledge fields, but mainly surrounded by specialised peers the
possible fertilization does not occur. We think that a COST action
offers an optimal frame in which this interdisciplinarity is
implemented in such a way that those fruitful ideas find their proper
soil. Concerning the issue of information this facts become specially
critical, since the epistemological differences among scientific
perspectives arose from the very core of their theories (let us think
in quantum physics, astrophysical thermodynamics, complexity theory,
genetics, rationality theory, linguistics...). Moreover, the concerning
interests corresponding to these conceptual differences are of
different nature (from the governing of nature or the implementation
of technology to the preservation of social rights, cultural life,
human dignity...).

Since the beginning of the 1990 years serious efforts have been done
in order to erect an interdisciplinary frame in which information
issues are shared from the very core of different sciences, as was the
case of the conferences and activities developed in the Foundations of
Information Science (FIS), in which, among others, a Unified Theory of
Information was essayed. But in the other hand, other groups (like the
International Center for Information Ethics, ICIE) were founded to
veil for those interests concerning information that science and
technology could be leaving apart, or may not be reached from an only
scientific criteria. This segregation of scopes will be tried to be
avoided in our proposal.

In November 2008, a Spanish reference group on information is founded,
in collaboration with international groups such as: the mentioned FIS,
the Unified Theory of Information Research Group (UTI), the
International Center for Information Ethics (ICIE), the International
Association for Computing and Philosophy (IACAP). Launching this
proposed COST Action may create a European reference working group
that would try to embrace the most relevant perspectives regarding

The EU has founded some related actions covering some of the issues
that should investigate the proposed interdisciplinary elucidation
(COST, EUROCORES, Research Networking Programmes, RNP, or Frame
Programmes, FP):
- in the field of Information Technologies: COST-IC 292, 294, 298;
COST-ICO 602, 603;
- in the field of Biomedical and Molecular Biosciences: COST-B 27,
- in the field of Individual, society, culture and health: COST-ISO
project; FP7-ETICA.

Which are not interdisciplinary enough in the sense previously
pointed, but offer results which may be very valuable in the proposed
In the USA, some interdisciplinary societies has been created along
the 20th century and maintained until today, but usually with a
relative restricted scope (ASIS&T, ITSOC, CIPR...). However in
cybernetics (e.g. ASC), the scope has traditionally been
interdisciplinary although reduced to a common paradigm.

In sum, the proposed approximation is innovative, may be enriched by
results from other EU investigations, and may provide a broad frame in
which the general interest may find a place among the fundaments of
other scientific perspectives.


- SCIENTIFICALLY: on the one hand, the action might be fruitful since
new paradigms can be essayed and, therefore, unavoidable problems
might be overtaken. On the other hand, the interdisciplinary
confrontation might clear up the theories itself easing the way for
- TECHNOLOGICALLY: the converging of disciplines might tackle material
possibilities not previously considered.
- From a SOCIETAL perspective: the actual human and social problems
concerning information might find a better presence in the
scientific-technological tools used in knowledge realm and in the
engineering practise, and therefore they might reach a better
understanding and solution.


A mutual UNDERSTANDING among all the summoned disciplines will be
persued, but not a reduction of all of them to a specific one.
Nevertheless, the most general concepts that could be agreed by all
parties will be searched as well as a UNIFIED FRAME that would embrace
all information phenomena, although it would not come to explain all
their details. The viability and scope of this abstract frame will be
an specific matter of study that might be carried by the participation
of all disciplines. Therefore there is a work for theoretical
clarification, for generalization and determination of scopes.

Apart from this general elucidation there is a commitment to formulate
the social and technical PROBLEMS into the elucidated perspectives,
granted that concepts and theories are able to express those problems.

This elucidation of theories and problems might be COMPILED in
constantly renewed publications (as long as the action runs) which
would allow: the embodiment of the work, interdisciplinary discussion
and progressively become a reference in the scientific community.


The COST activity is understood in terms of 3 levels: 1) TEAMS around
specific interdisciplinary objectives; 2) COLLABORATION between teams;
3) GLOBAL, for discussion and general interest.

Teams will be progressively formed as the scopes towards different
issues are found to be coincident among participants and these may
formulate a coherent programme with the general objective. Since
SYNTACTIC, SEMANTIC and PRAGMATIC aspects of Information must be
properly investigate, mathematical problems and also physical,
chemical, biological, cognitive, economic, management, societal and
ethical problems has to be embraced progressively in the global stage
through a clarification of concepts, theories and problems. All
members within their respective capabilities will participate in this
early stage through the elaboration of a GLOSSARY edited in a
collaborative procedure. Every concept, theory, problem might be
reflected from all the summoned perspectives, and as the paradigms are
progressively outlined, the DISCIPLINARY teams will define their
specific objectives, which articulate the general ones. These groups
organize the main work and a representative of each of them integrates
the UNIFICATION group, which tackle the generalization and unification


Since the summoned disciplines and members are large and diverse, the
coordination is critic, especially at the beginning of the action in
which the working groups must be delimited. For this coordination four
responsible figures are proposed:
c) COORDINATION FOR PUBLICATIONS (to keep a genuine interdisciplinary
d) COORDINATION FOR COMPUTING TOOLS (glossary edition, communication
channels articulated by informatics).
Each working group will have a RESPONSIBLE and a REPRESENTATIVE that
should integrate the unification group.
Periodical SUMMONS should also be organized in critical phases
(beginning, presentation of working groups, assessment of these
groups, and integration of the whole work).
As stated in section (A) there are consolidate and active groups in
different parts of Europe and within the national geography of the
proposer. The group founded in November 2008 includes more than 50
members working in European institutions and composed by preliminary
groups just in need of proper articulation to fulfill the proposed
action. This is the reason why the COST framework seem to be best
suited than any other EU program.
fis mailing list

Reply via email to