In recent years various theories have been developed about the relation between development and change of social systems, and the disturbing events that can occur in their environments. It has increasingly bee recognised that this relation is not one of first order cybernetic control (i.e., when initial conditions can be manipulated in order to determine later events). Social organization can be described more adequately by the notion of networks of communication that evolve recursively and interactively among human actors as their reflexive carriers. Such "self-organising" networks constitute the subject of second order cybernetics: the study of emergent order and its control.
In a collaboration between seven European research institutes, we intend to apply these relatively new theoretical insights to specific experiences related to the emergence of the "European Information Society". We shall analyze
(i) Science & Technology policy options emerging from RTD-networks,
(ii) innovation and (trans-)regional development in SME-networks, and
(iii) cultural dimensions added to these processes of change by new ways of communicating (like CMC). In a fourth project the results of the three projects are self-monitored and disseminated by exhibiting them to relevant audiences while using methods and tools of second-order systems theory and CMC, reflexively.
In this consortium we bring together sociological and computer science expertise. Our methodological expertise is focussed on the issues under I.1.3 of the TSER Programme: "Interfaces, communication and networks in innovation and RTD processes." We aim to develop methods to study such interfaces, and we wish to apply the resulting insights to European issues. Thus, we combine the topic of the information society (I.2.4: "To what extent can knowledge be codified and what could the economic and social consequences be, including forms of organization of economic activities") with research questions that are part of a "Europe-specific way" of looking at the information society.
Human agency is the context of the social system that is able to reflect it-although in a distributed mode. Therefore, human capital is the sole source the further development of social systems. Our focus on human capital management allows us to address issues of social exclusion and unemployment. Information measures can be developed that shed light on the question of measuring social exclusion (III.5), and the effectiveness of policies and actions, European diversion and diversity (II.1). How do information networks exclude people by restricting access? How is diversity generated and integrated? By innovating our methods of dissemination, we wish to contribute also to options under heading II.3 of the TSER Programme ("Education, training, and economic development").
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
GU2 5XH Guildford
8057 Zürich - Irchel