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From Infology to Artificial Science

Sævik, Sjur Einen LU (2013) ILHM05 20131
Division of History of Ideas and Sciences
Abstract
This paper studies the ideas of two actors in the Scandinavian field of Information Systems development. It analyzes the writings of Börje Langefors and Bo Dahlbom in the 1980s and 1990s, and focuses on their collaboration resulting in the publication of Langefors’ Essays on Infology. Langefors was at that time honored as the founder of the information systems discipline in Scandinavia, but had also been criticized by several authors in the field. Dahlbom was a philosopher who had ventured into information systems development in the late 1980s. At the brink of the 1980s significant changes in both computer technology and Western society were evident. Computer technology saw a development from mainframe computing towards networked... (More)
This paper studies the ideas of two actors in the Scandinavian field of Information Systems development. It analyzes the writings of Börje Langefors and Bo Dahlbom in the 1980s and 1990s, and focuses on their collaboration resulting in the publication of Langefors’ Essays on Infology. Langefors was at that time honored as the founder of the information systems discipline in Scandinavia, but had also been criticized by several authors in the field. Dahlbom was a philosopher who had ventured into information systems development in the late 1980s. At the brink of the 1980s significant changes in both computer technology and Western society were evident. Computer technology saw a development from mainframe computing towards networked computing, as well as the advent of the home computer and the beginnings of the internet. Western societies changed significantly in the same period. I analyze the writings of Langefors using Paul N. Edwards concept of the cybernetic paradigm as a framework. Taking this as my starting point, I investigate whether the two writers can be said to operate within the cybernetic paradigm. Furthermore I interpret their theories along two axes. One seeing a shift from modernity to post-modernity, and one seeing a shift from humanism to post-humanism. I argue that both Langefors and Dahlbom can be understood as part of a cybernetic paradigm, although not univocally. Langefors can largely be interpreted as a product of Swedish post-war modernity, while Dahlbom related to a “postmodern condition” in Lyotard’s terms. As well as investigating the two authors as actors in the information systems development field, I investigate whether their theories also could be read as philosophy. I take Louis Althusser's notion of “the spontaneous philosophy of scientists” as my starting point for this discussion. I argue that Langefors and Dahlbom can be understood as philosophers from two different perspectives. Langefors took his experiences as a practitioner and generalized them into philosophy, while Dahlbom wanted to bring philosophical reflection to the practice of systems development. Finally, I ask what motivated Dahlbom and Langefors, two very different theorists with very different backgrounds, to collaborate. My findings indicate that Dahlbom was partly motivated by his intention of developing a “new informatics” in Sweden, and saw Langefors as an inspiration for this project. Both of the authors were motivated by seeing common adversaries in the information systems development field. (Less)
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author
Sævik, Sjur Einen LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
A Study of the Philosophical Practice of Börje Langefors and Bo Dahlbom
course
ILHM05 20131
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Philosophy, Informatics, Infology, Bo Dahlbom, Börje Langefors, Information Systems
language
English
id
3935717
date added to LUP
2013-09-03 15:09:31
date last changed
2013-09-03 15:09:31
@misc{3935717,
  abstract     = {This paper studies the ideas of two actors in the Scandinavian field of Information Systems development. It analyzes the writings of Börje Langefors and Bo Dahlbom in the 1980s and 1990s, and focuses on their collaboration resulting in the publication of Langefors’ Essays on Infology. Langefors was at that time honored as the founder of the information systems discipline in Scandinavia, but had also been criticized by several authors in the field. Dahlbom was a philosopher who had ventured into information systems development in the late 1980s. At the brink of the 1980s significant changes in both computer technology and Western society were evident. Computer technology saw a development from mainframe computing towards networked computing, as well as the advent of the home computer and the beginnings of the internet. Western societies changed significantly in the same period. I analyze the writings of Langefors using Paul N. Edwards concept of the cybernetic paradigm as a framework. Taking this as my starting point, I investigate whether the two writers can be said to operate within the cybernetic paradigm. Furthermore I interpret their theories along two axes. One seeing a shift from modernity to post-modernity, and one seeing a shift from humanism to post-humanism. I argue that both Langefors and Dahlbom can be understood as part of a cybernetic paradigm, although not univocally. Langefors can largely be interpreted as a product of Swedish post-war modernity, while Dahlbom related to a “postmodern condition” in Lyotard’s terms. As well as investigating the two authors as actors in the information systems development field, I investigate whether their theories also could be read as philosophy. I take Louis Althusser's notion of “the spontaneous philosophy of scientists” as my starting point for this discussion. I argue that Langefors and Dahlbom can be understood as philosophers from two different perspectives. Langefors took his experiences as a practitioner and generalized them into philosophy, while Dahlbom wanted to bring philosophical reflection to the practice of systems development. Finally, I ask what motivated Dahlbom and Langefors, two very different theorists with very different backgrounds, to collaborate. My findings indicate that Dahlbom was partly motivated by his intention of developing a “new informatics” in Sweden, and saw Langefors as an inspiration for this project. Both of the authors were motivated by seeing common adversaries in the information systems development field.},
  author       = {Sævik, Sjur Einen},
  keyword      = {Philosophy,Informatics,Infology,Bo Dahlbom,Börje Langefors,Information Systems},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {From Infology to Artificial Science},
  year         = {2013},
}