Dear FIS Colleagues,

Since April 2017, the FIS forum has been silent for as long as 5 months. 
September 15, Pedro has raised 10 Principles of Information Science with his 
amazing insight. As we all know, since the December 1997, FIS forum has run 
nearly 20 years, colleagues gathered here mainly focused on two topics:1) The 
analysis of different information problems that they apply the concept of 
information; 2) Definition of information; But this time, Pedro opened a third 
FIS topic: Principle of Information Science. Undoubtedly, it is the highest 
goal of FIS colleagues and all information scientists in the world.

However, after the presentation of the 10 principles, the discussion has not 
been developed in accordance with the expectations of all FIS colleagues, 
including Pedro. After about 6 or so direct reviews about the 10 principles, 
the discussions quickly shifted to the topic of eternal controversial on FIS: 
The definition of information. And then the discussion start moving to Data, 
Meaning, Message, Reflection, Agent and so on, it is a stunned. Are the 10 
principles wrong? Why has the definition of information been put on the table 
again? Looking back, at least one year ago, at the FIS forum, Bateson's 
"Information is a difference that makes a difference" still occupies the stage 
of information definition with an overwhelming majority of leading roles. The 
10 principles put forward by Pedro are undoubtedly meaningful, but why do it 
secretly change the topic into information definition again?.

1. Pedro's 10 Principles of Information Science

Referring to Pedro's view (Sept. 20), we can divide the 10 principle into the 
following 3 groups: 1~3: The Universal Principle which is suitable for all 
types of information; 4~5: The Local Principle which is only suitable for the 
type of organic information; 6~10: The Local Principle which is only suitable 
for the type of human information. From a macro point of view, these 10 
principles are related to Pedro's personal professional research — Biological 
Information — of his lifelong field of study, and information flow and 
knowledge recombination is his favorite topic in recent years. As for human 
information, this is a subject that I am most interested in and I am glad that 
he can put forward 4 principles from his view.

The first principle is the exact expression of Wiener's 1948 statement (Wiener, 
1948), and it is now well known among scientists all over the world. The other 
9 principles come from Pedro himself. Unfortunately, in the discussions during 
these period, in addition to about 6 colleagues commented on these principles 
directly, almost no else commented. Obviously, there must be some problems. My 
view is that the problem lies mainly in the universal nature of the principle. 
It consists of two aspects: 1) Scope. Since it is called principle of 
information science, all principles under it should generally be applied to all 
information types and disciplines rather than to some kind of them. If they are 
expressed as "X principles of Biological Informatics", or "X principles of 
Human Informatics", they may be more precise; 2) Correctness. Verification for 
each principle requires time, this can be observed in the future discussion, we 
don't have to worry. I believe that these principles will eventually inspire 
the vitality they deserve.

2. Definition of Information

Looking back over the past 20 years of FIS discussion, almost every other time, 
someone must put forward the definition debate on information, and then 
produced new definition. Whether your topic is to talk about any other type of 
information, at the end, someone may intentionally or unintentionally turn the 
topic to the definition of information. It reminds me of some of my own 
research experiences. When I proposed that we should pay attention to 
information science research in 1987 to a vice-president of Peking University 
(A famous Linguist), he immediately questioned me: "Is information science not 
the study of information definition?" Till November 2015, at the presidential 
meeting of Peking University, when I gave the account on the establishment of 
China Chapter of IS4SI, the current president just only asked me one question: 
what is your definition of information now? Decades later, we can see that this 
problem has not changed, and this is what we have to introspect. FIS forum, 
including information scientists from other places, should not always discussed 
in such a simple and unrestricted way to define the definition of information. 
I recall Marcin said at our FIS 10 years ago: When somebody gives me logically 
correct definition of some concept I cannot say "It is wrong" but only that "I 
am not interested in this concept or that", "I do not believe this definition 
can be applied to what we agreed is denotation of the concept." The general 
concept of information requires for its foundations an appropriate rich 
philosophical tradition with its developed conceptual framework. "(Sep.2, 
2005)." And in last month, Emanuel commented ironically, "All FISers pretend to 
be Einstein" (Oct. 9).

My view is that it is not the best time to discuss the definition of 
information now. It contains 3 factors: 1). When we do not understand the 
meaning of information in some major applications, we will have not a thorough 
understanding of information, so it is very difficult to grasp the essence of 
the concept of all kinds of information for us; 2). The connotation of 
information has been shrinking, but the denotation has been expanding; 3). 
Physicists to study "It from Bit" or "It from Qubit" is on the rise now, and 
its final interpretation of the concept may be completely subvert our old 
information view. Looking at the grand conference for "It from Qubit" which was 
hold in Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics of Canada in July 2016, and 
the similar study plus the relationship between information and Dao in 
Massachusetts Institute of Technology by so many excellent physicists, it still 
is profound for our FIS peers.

Many new information definitions that perennially have been given by FIS 
colleagues, in fact, most of them have been presented many times before by 
different researchers in detail in their works, such as Mark Burgin, 2010; 
Robert Logan, 2014; Xueshan Yan, 2016 etc. If possible, I hope we don't spend 
so much time doing these repetitive work without knowing enough about the 
existing works. For example, a few days ago, Arturo said in his post: "To talk 
about information is meaningless", "I will never use anymore in my papers the 
useless term information." (Oct. 4). In fact, in 1973, Fairthorn once proposed 
that: “We should completely exclude the term information from the scientific 
lexicon and to abandon the term from the dictionary.” (Mark, 2010).

3. Next Step’s Discussion

In the FIS forum, no matter how many the comments about the principle are 
given, how controversial about the definition is, they lack a scientific base: 
verification analysis. Verification is the sole criterion for testing truth. 
Where we play the verification analysis? in different professional fields which 
they apply the information concept. Once the principles and concept been put 
into the specific fields of application of information concept, the conclusion 
will be very convincing. In the hottest years of the FIS forum in 1997~2002 
years, we have analyzed almost all of the applications of information concept. 
If we want our FIS to continue to attract more researchers to pay attention, we 
should continue to carry forward the previous tradition, but should go deeper 
than it in the past.

Today, the general public and the scientific community have put forward 
numerous types of information, such as physical information, chemical 
information, biological information, social information, economic information, 
ecological information, etc............. And many information research 
disciplines have been produced at last. According to my statistics, these 
disciplines have reached more than 210. Such as Chemical Informatics, Decision 
Informatics, Financial Informatics, Algebraic Informatics, etc........... 
However, if we verify the principles of information science or definition of 
information according to these vast fields, the task obviously is too onerous. 
But an effective way is: we classify these disciplines first, only sum up them 
into several basic disciplines to complete the relevant work. I think it is 
appropriate to classify them according to the species hierarchy of nature. In 
this respect, Stanley proposed a good suggestion, e.g. {physics {chemistry 
{biology {sociology}}}} (Sept. 20). According to this idea, all the more than 
210 informational disciplines can be divided into 4 ~ 5 basic information 
subjects, they are: Physical Informatics, Chemical Informatics, Biological 
Informatics, Human Informatics (Social Informatics), as for the Technological 
Informatics, is it a fundamental informatics? I think that the Humberto 
Maturana and Francisco Varela’s autopoiesis theory can give a good answer. The 
technical information system does not produce information itself, what is 
processed or transmitted only is human information (or other types of 

Undoubtedly, it is much harder to do this kind of research than it did before. 
For example, if someone wants to put forward some universal statements about 
information, he needs to have a comprehensive observation at least 4~5 basic 
information disciplines. In the past, even if one person know little 
application field about information, he/she can shut the door to his room in 
patted his head and then give a definition of information, or start pointing 
fingers toward other’s definition of information. If we can sum up 4~5 basic 
information disciplines, so it can not only simple and convincing to the 
verification of Pedro’s principles of information science, at the same time, 
that anyone can easily give a definition of information era may be gone forever.


Best regards,


Peking University, China


P.S. For the convenience of reading, I put all these discussions (except for 
others, such as Francesco Rizzo's Spanish posts) into one file, and interested 
friends can download it directly.


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