Strategic Frameworks for Understanding Information Systems
This is a summary of how Dooyeweerdian philosophy might be used to form strategic frameworks for understanding five major areas of information systems:
A Dooyeweerdian approach, which denies that anything 'is' anything 'in itself' because it is based on Meaning rather than Being, cannot start at the first and work along the list, nor with the last and work backwards. Instead, it must start with the meaning of information technology, and that entails human usage. This gives us first a pivotal framework.
The page is only a first draft, and is a summary of the results in Basden's forthcoming book A Philosophy for Information Systems; apologies: many of the entries are as yet terse, but I plan to expand them in due time. If you want clarification, please email me.
('FFU' = framework for understanding)
A box just below an entry, on right hand side, gives the part in Dooyeweerd's philosophy that relates to that entry.
Where to start:
- Not with nature of technology.
- Nor with societal perspectives.
- But with human use of I.T. artefact or computer systems.
Computers and information can only be understood by reference to human beings and human usage of computers.
The centrality of the human, or rather that it is the human aspects that provide most important meaning; Dooyeweerdian orientation towards Meaning
Thus all FFUs pivot on human usage of computers
- Human usage is:
- Three types of functioning ...
- Ease of use, 'driving' machine
Aspects of functioning regardless of application: esp. psychic to lingual
- Usefulness in Applications Task
Aspects of applications task.
- Usefulness in user's role
- Link between them:
Lingual aspect of driving enables symbolizing the meaning of application.
Philosophical basis for differentiating driving (ease of use) from using (usefulness)
Aspect sets of ease of use v. usefulness
FFU Ease of Use, Driving the UI:
- 1. Aspects of UI are psychic to lingual
- Provides basis for evaluation, design, clarification, etc.
- 2. Paradigm shift underway: distal to proximal
- Therefore what contribution appropriate for philosophy?
- Extant philosophical understanding of the difference
- Winograd + Flores (Descartes distance v. Heideggerian at-hand-ness).
- Critique by Spaul and Critical Theory: W+F disallows critical reflection.
- Need to allows for critical reflection of the applications task whil allowing proximal UI.
Dooyeweerd: Lingual rather than Cartesian distance. Dooyeweerd also allows both distal and proximal. Distal as lingual Gegenstand, proximal as multi-aspectual functioning.
- Philosophical FFU Distal driving
Learning qualified by lingual.
- Philosophical FFU Proximal driving
FFU Usefulness in Application:
- No existing paradigm yet; therefore can suggest one
- Paradigms chosen r.t. provably corrent
- What is Usage? How do impacts arise?
- Issues: diverse, stakeholders, indirect, unexpected, long-term
- Usage is Human aspectual functioning
- Impacts occur as repercussions of this functioning
- Unexpected impacts
- Indirect impacts
- Long-term impacts
Longer response times for later aspects.
- Difference between benefit and detriment?
- Needs philosophy that embraces normativity
Normative Aspects imply norms
- Aspect tree as visual device
Observations on how Dooyeweerdian philosophy has been useful.
Nature of computers is their Meaning before their Being
- Ask "What means computer?" before "What is computer?"
- Therefore we understand nature as aspects
Aspects are irreducible distinctions of Meaning.
- We consider aspects of driving, regardless of application
"What means computer?": aspectual functioning
- Which aspects to consider?
- Lingual aspect as qualifying
Notion of qualifying aspect.
- Physical to Formative to support it
- Examination of kernel meaning of each aspect uncovers many issues
- Whose suites of aspects do we choose?
Our taking of Dooyeweerd's suite as better than other suites.
- Note: in all aspects after physical, the computer responds as object within human subject-functioning in each aspect; in physical the computer responds as subject.
- Physical (subject-functioning): reliability
- Organic (object-functioning): hardware, distinct from environment
- Psychic (object-functioning): signals and states
- pixel and gestures of UI, and shapes, colours, etc.
- memory, bit patterns, CPU instructions
- Analytic (object-functioning): basic data types,
- their storage and manipulation as bit patterns,
- ways of expressing them in UI.
- Formative (object-functioning): structure and goals
- data structures
- algorithms and what we do with the data; information processing
- Lingual (object-functioning): applications meaning symbolized
- 'direct' meaning
- cultural assumptions
- Other aspects:
- Social: see lingual cultural assumptions, 'pragmatics'
- Economic: limitations on screen space, memory, speed, etc.
- Aesthetic: style and decoration of UI.
- Note: difference from e.g. Searle "What the computer is really doing."
- This can throw light on several issues:
- Newell's levels
- Intentionality and the AI question
"What is computer?": aspectual beings (reified aspects)
- Enkaptically related to whole
- Part and whole
- Several issues
- Ontic status of mouse pointer etc.
Observations on how we have used Dooyeweerd's philosophy:
Link to pivotal framework: Develops the set of aspects of application task
FFU the process of researching and developing information technologies
- process led by the formative aspect: shaping
- multi-aspectual, so all aspects important
Dooyeweerd's view of multi-aspectual functioning, and shalom principle.
FFU the shapes that information technologies take:
- Note: Plethora of information technologies extant.
- Vision: information technologies should be shaped around the aspects, a distinct
technology for each aspect, since it is not known which aspects an applications task will involve
Aspects are irreducible. All applications undertaken within framework of aspectual law.
- in the main we are talking about representation of knowledge.
Lingual expression of what we want computer to be/do in symbols of KR language.
- Note: we do NOT assume textual languages only.
Anything can be a symbol to Dooyeweerd.
- Each aspect provides a complete KR formalism (The generation of a KR software
should implement all these):
Philosophical roles of each aspect.
- A central KR-ontology for the aspect
- A language and user interface style appropriate to the aspect
- Types of properties, attributes
- Methods (functions, procedures, inferencing)
- Constraints and tests
- Relationship types, and what happens when they are activated
- (not yet known)
- Examples given for each aspect.
- analogical inter-aspect echoes: each KR formalism echoes others
- Integration of KR:
The aspects are in harmony
This points to major new research programme, since it does not seem to have been attempted before.
Observations on how we have used Dooyeweerdian philosophy.
FFU that looks forward to eventual usage
- all sets of aspects of the pivotal framework
- but employs the extant shaped technologies.
FFU the process of development
- Methodology is major issue
Qualified by formative aspect.
- But a diverse human process
- all aspects important: we can go through the contribution of each
- social aspects especially important since the process involves multiple stakeholders, e.g.:
- involving all stakeholders in process
- perspectives of stakeholders
- due to each stakeholders
- generosity and service
FFU looking forward to eventual use:
- identification of stakeholders
Aspects of their roles in application (see pivotal framework).
- Diversity of domain knowledge
Application functioning involves every aspect ...
- Problems of tacit
... but we often unaware of it.
- Ensuring no factor is overlooked
- Useful methods of aspectual analysis:
- Distribution of domain knowledge between human and technological parts of information system:
Dooyeweerd's notion that humans are central to any technological artefact.
- human parts: training
- technological parts: developing the technological artefacts and systems (design, implementation, validation)
- employing extant technologies (link to FFU-Tgy)
- Note the tiny fraction of attention given to programming etc. compared with many
- ensuring good interaction between them
- Quality of knowledge elicited: seek to separate understanding from context in experience. /
- Knowledge refinement (iterative process):
Observations of how Dooyeweerdian philosophy has been used.
The difference from other frameworks: humans inside information technology;
- predispositions to live, work, act in certain ways
- changes in expectations, aspiration, outlook
- changes in what we see as the solution
- [new]: perspectives
FFU Technology: Schuurman's Account of Technology
- The transcedentalists and positivists - and post moderns
- My own view that these rationalizations do not accord with my everyday experience.
- Absolutized perspectives on technology:
- Schuurman's 'liberating vision of technology' based on Dooyeweerdian thinking
- technology as meaning-disclosure
- must be led by other aspects
- future is open, not closed
- importance of the human designer and their responsibility
- problems explainable in terms of aspectual norms
FFU Inscription of Technology:
- Feminist critique: I.T. inscribed with 'masculinity'.
- Critique from developing nations: I.T. inscribed with Western values.
- Other types of inscription: problems e.g.
Undue elevation of aspects.
FFU perspectives on technology:
Observations on how we have used Dooyeweerdian philosophy.
This page is part of a collection that discusses application of Herman Dooyeweerd's ideas, within The Dooyeweerd Pages, which explain, explore and discuss Dooyeweerd's interesting philosophy. Email questions or comments would be welcome.
Written on the Amiga and Protext.
Compiled by (c) 2003 Andrew Basden. You may use this material subject to conditions.
Created: 14 November 2003
Last updated: 7 September 2013 rid unet, new .nav, .end.