Information Society

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Hofkirchner, Wolfgang
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Cumplido, Adrià (19 Dec. 2018, within the course "Odyssey of Philosophy and Information", facilitated by J.M. Díaz at HM)

(1) The comments of the facilitator will be edited using this style, brackets, 8 pt, color change. These will be introduced in between your own text to discuss and further co-elaborate the content. Whenever the authors consider to have addressed the issue, they can simply remove the comment
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NOTE of the AUTHOR (in interaction with the facilitator and colleagues): these are edited using this style, no-brackets, 8 pt, this color.

[Dear Adrià, 
I see several issues in your contribution. 
1) First of all, you introduce concepts without any justification (for instance, social network, small-world, subsidiarity, cyber-subsidiarity...) and this is critical since the very purpose of the glossariumBITri is clarifying concepts, theories and problems. 
2) In the same line, you go through different topics without any justification of why you do it (for instance when you start talking about networks, when you jump to talk about language, when you then move to considering Information Management in the human body, etc). This shows that there's a lack of structure in the entry as a whole and rather a collection of topics with weak relation to one another (I know what is the connection because I explain it in my paper, but I also know a normal reader wouldn't find it). 
Furthermore, according to the guidelines, 
3) at the beginning you should start with an abstract, then provide an introduction to the topic referring the sources you will be relying on (by the way, if you can talk about the "network society" and then refer a Catalan author who is also professor in Berkeley, Ramon Castells. He is an important reference. Another author important to refer is Mattelart. He has a very well know introductory book about the information society, translated into many languages -please check the private folder in the seminar's website). Subsequently, you should break down the text into paragraphs with proper titles.
4) Your contribution has a large amount of published content coincidence (according to Turnitin it is over 35%, most of it comes from my own article). This needs being improved (never exceed 20%). 
5) YOur entry doesn't satisfy the length requirement] 


As the years pass, the information society is responsible for the disappearance of physical borders, the appearance of new businesses or unlimited access to information. At present we are dealing with an economic model of companies that goes hand in hand with a goal of sustainable development. There is an existing concept called business sustainability and it is based on finding the balance between the economic part, the social part and the environmental part within a company. Therefore, this close relationship with scarce resources, one of the main tools is ICT for the development of our goal. To give an example, green ICTs are a concept in which work is being done to promote conferences instead of in-person meetings to improve energy efficiency.

The world is interconnected and social networks have a lot of influence in that aspect. At the end of what is in this entry, is that the Internet is a global network, and has a series of links and interconnections between all nodes. But not all the planet Earth receives the same type of information. The sustainable information society looks for global interconnectivity, and in that aspect, as we will comment here, there is a big difference between the developed countries and those that are in the process of development. The latter has more connections with developed countries than with each other, and this is something that must be changed in order to achieve a global information society.

According to Gustavo Cardoso (Professor of Communication Sciences at ISCTE), in order to analyse the different models of the information society, one has to begin to distinguish the four dimensions (technology, economy, social welfare and values), and in this way can understand the position in which each society is in the relationship with globalization, and what can be done to improve. Therefore, an information society can be considered if it has a solid information technology: infrastructure and production. Something vital to be able to achieve what we are looking for, a sustainable information society. According to Mr. Cardoso, countries such as Finland or the United States are advanced information societies. It also explains what the European Union consists of. It is possible to find the formula for social and economic development, the use of technological tools and the introduction into society. so that countries prosper.

Sustainable Information Society

Thinking of a utopia about a perfectly structured society, you can come to think of many of the systems that surround us and that day after day society tries to improve in order to reach a better world. Therefore, in this entry, I will try to develop the idea of a sustainable information society and on what it can be based.

At this time, society is governed by a series of stigmas and rules in which social networks have a lot of influence. In this aspect, Big data has a great relevance since we live in a completely computerized society where the databases are something very important to take into account to develop a sustainable information society. The main question is whether this is the most appropriate structure for the World Information Society (GIS). It is believed that it is not the most effective or democratic way to confront the great world problems.

When you talk about social networks, this concept is understood as the set of communication media and people that can interact with each other. It is important to realize that in the end it is a means of communication, within the communication landscape we are more aware of it, than for example of others. In the end it is a network (concept that we will talk about later), a series of interactions between people, in which endless possibilities and possible interactions enter. In the end we only visualize the network as the possible interactions.

Within the abstract networks, it can be said that a network is a set of nodes and links between them. The most relevant feature of a node is its degree, that is, the number of links that connect with the rest of the network, while for the link is its directivity. This has helped to map many real phenomena. When something is being mapped in reality, the nodes represent some kind of agency. We can distinguish between two: the active (the agent acts by itself) and the passive (if you use an active agent to perform such action). The links mean the interactions between these agents.

The interaction represented by the links can be considered internal for active agents and external for passive agents (they require external intervention by some passive agent). The greatest interaction in small worlds takes place at the group level, while global connectivity occurs with other clusters. In the information flow (the interactions), the stability implies that the combined information in all the loops directed within the cluster is convergent under issue management. In addition, the flow of information outside the cluster may correspond to the complexity excess where they are handled within the cluster but transported outside

The groupings in the small stable worlds networks represent some kind of effective cooperation. In contrast, small global networks are governed by the principle of subsidiarity, issues are dealt with immediately.

The Internet is also a network formed by a series of nodes and links between them, apart from being the great structure of information. This infrastructure is formed by a network of routers that navigate the data packages from one terminal to another. Both the Web and the Internet infrastructure are very far from the distributed topology, but still, provide robustness under some failure of a random node (although if it were a critical node they could severely affect the overall performance). The topology of the Internet offers both the potential to link any node of the Internet in a short time and the robustness of maintaining overall performance in the face of failures.

The idea of the global information society assumes that everyone has the possibility to interact globally through the information infrastructure. Nothing is further from reality. The majority of the population is offline since in the developing countries they have much more difficulty connecting. There is an inequality of global access that is consistent with the income inequality of the different continents. If the global society has to be inclusive, the first condition must be to have a global coverage online. Although we are not in that position, according to the trend of the evolution of ICT services with respect to other basic services, we are on the right track and there is a horizon that can be reached.

Beyond connectivity, other points must be borne in mind, such as, for example, the quality of said connectivity (the probability that a link between two arbitrary nodes meets a series of requirements to perform an appropriate interaction), and the probability of finding the appropriate pair or resource.

It is clear that there is a very large gap between the developed countries and those in the process of development. There is a big difference in the lines of communication since the countries with high income are the ones that have the most nodes and pipes. The supply and demand of ICT resources are driven exclusively by the monetary value, so the approach used to keep pace with the clients of the demand may not be enough to satisfy the peoples of the demand unless there is minimum equality between the purchasing power of the people. A convincing proof of this is that there is more communication between poor countries and the rich than between themselves. If subsidiarity is to be a regulatory principle of the global information society, then we should enact a positive sense to call for action at the highest level to allow minimum equality is a guarantee because at the lower level the problem cannot be solved.

Finding appropriate resources or partners is one of the highest concerns in the development of ICTs before the increase of human capacity to store and communicate information. Data processing and healing have been put in the hands of data centres. We see how most of the information services are not within the user's devices, but assigned in large high-security structures placed geographically. The importance of these structures is key within the world economy and in the administration and resolution of social and scientific problems.

On the other hand, another characteristic of the Internet-oriented by big-data technologies with respect to its potential to convert a sustainable global information society is that services of this type, such as Google's translator, only offers 0.25% of the existing languages. Therefore, at first glance you could come to suppose that the relationship between language and the Internet is close, you should dig deeper into this type of issues in order to take globalization a step further and obtain a better information society sustainable global

To give an example, language has been an important point in how cultures have developed and have been used as a good argument to understand the Internet as a semantics that can make us an indication of the Internet's infrastructure has to become the main pillar of Our information society. The language can also be mapped in terms of a passive semantic network. A speaker is needed, and this concept puts them in interaction forming sentences.

Unlike the people linked through the Internet infrastructure, the community of speakers has a space of possibilities, a passive network, which is distributed equally among all people and where communicative acts can be developed. On the other hand, the Internet infrastructure offers a completely unequal space for social interaction, as we have already mentioned.

We can see that the language is a semantic network because it has a central core of most words used and that is shared by virtually all speakers, while we find groups of words that are more connected to each other, more specific vocabulary on a subject specific.

We draw several conclusions regarding the semantic network of natural languages such as that all languages offer a passive network that is distributed equally among users of the same language. Also that the language presents an evolutionary pattern adjusted to the principle of subsidiarity that provides both the adaptation of the flexible domain and global connectivity. The semantic network of natural languages has fundamental properties for the promulgation of subsidiarity, and the unlimited productivity of natural language depends on its recursive nature.

We can also talk about the management of information and the complexity of the human body to link it to sustainable global information. We have already commented on the capacity of the human being to store and exchange information, and how much it has increased in recent times, but compared to the information that can be obtained from a person's DNA, it is nothing.

According to the analysis of the human organism of Beer, the body is divided into three parts: the muscles and organs, the nervous system and the external environment. For the articulation of the nervous system of the human being, Beer distinguishes us four connected systems that form System 1 are:

  • System 2: sympathetic nervous system (stabilizes and coordinates the activity of the muscles and organs through the resolution of conflicts.
  • System 3: brain base (allows internal regulation and optimization.
  • System 4: diencephalon and ganglia (external senses).
  • System 5: cortex (superior brain functions that realize the own identity, the final decision-making and the axiological orientation. 

All these systems are interconnected and to a lesser or greater extent affect the flow of information that passes through the human being. The biological management of information shows us that it is possible an intense relief of the flow of information and make the maximum complexity an adequate hierarchical architecture composed at each level by a network of autonomous agents, who act cooperatively to solve problems, and the coordination of actions. This architecture is based on the principle of subsidiarity. It should also be noted that information is only filtered if it is relevant for global operation, so it guarantees a certain value for the benefit of adequate decision-making.

To speak about the global information society, we can use Cyber-Subsidiarity as a backbone. The principle of subsidiarity was proposed for the first time in the principles of Calvinism, it was the great increase in inequality in industrialized societies that brought it to light after the appearance of great socio-political concern. In a democratic society is contemplated, it was then when this idea was developed to end inequality and the terrible difference between work and capital. Then the principle of subsidiarity became a fundamental principle of democratic liberalism and a pillar of the social doctrine of the Catholic Church.

For Beer, it would develop a new way of making sense of information technology and the capacity of telecommunications as a means to overcome the bureaucratic paradigm in favour of both the implementation of freedom and the ability to cope with complexity. Beer's model is based on the functionality of systems 1 to 5, closely related to those mentioned above:

  • System 1: autonomous and mutually adaptive operating units.
  • System 2: coordination and conflict management.
  • System 3: strategic planning and optimization.
  • System 3 *: an audit of system performance 1.
  • System 4: long-term planning.
  • System 5: ethics and regulatory management. 

The model is based on two fundamental principles of Beer: the law of the required variety and the Ashby principle of recursion. In relation to the first principle, the capacity of system 1 must be balanced with the framework of operations that it assumes, taking into account sufficient room for manoeuvre.

In conclusion, we can glimpse a cybernetic model of subsidiarity that provides a solid means for the development of qualitative democracy in the global information society. The cybernetic model of subsidiarity serves to promote this global information society. A series of structural requirements of the links that connect the parts of the cybernetic model of subsidiarity must be met. Two points must be taken into account. The first is the positive account of subsidiarity, which has to be strongly affirmed so that adequate universal coverage is achieved. On the other hand, information must be filtered in a relevant way, as the human body acts. It is also important to have foresight, and it must be present at different scales. 

In my opinion, sustainable global information society is something that is viable for society and that can bring many advantages. It is a difficult model to implement since everything must be connected, the fact that we have seen previously, it is not easy, since the world is very divided. That is why we must develop the qualitative democracy mentioned above in its four dimensions that are, freedom, equality, control and sustainability.


  • Díaz, J.M. (2017). Cyber-Subsidiarity: Towards a Global Sustainable Information Society.
  • Zimmermann, R. and Díaz, J.M. (2012). Una perspectiva integral de la acción y las redes sociales: imaginar, valorar, elegir. Le Monde Diplomatique en español, 206.
  • Castells, M. and Cardoso, G. (2005). The Network Society, From Knowledge to Policy.