(Updated 3 April 2014)
Period after 2002: Position statement and letter of intent
(LATEST ON THE TOP)
Information as debate, peer review and publication
Reflections on the departmental 20 years' jubilee 2014
Wikipedia democracy, and wikicracy
The illusion of communicative information
Research summary on the 80th birthday (Preliminary!)
Research summary on the 75th birthday
The Illusion of state-individualistic ethics
Ethics in technology and theology of the flesh
Trends in philosophy of technology
Quality control of information
Wikileaks, information and systems
Ethics of research and the "Lucifer effect"
Privacy - Integrity of information - communication
Wikileaks - Freedom of expression
Essence of computers & presuppositions of support
Interview (june 2008)
Interview (october 2007)
Research summary on the 70th birthday
Whither computers and systems? Confessions of a 2008-emeritus
Experimental realism vx. empirical idealism
Computer science and gnosticism
Short summary of local achievements
Period up to year 2002
Position statement and overview for the period after September 2002
POSITION STATEMENT AND LETTER OF INTENT. After the promotion to professor emeritus, effective October 2002, and the definitive dismissal of compulsive publishing so common in an increasingly industrialized academic research, my work follows a particular position statement and "letter of intent". This work tries to respect Matthew 12:36 ("There is not a thoughtless word that comes from men's lips but they will have to account for it on the day of judgment") and is exemplified by the following (in inverse chronological order, latest additions at the top).
A disclaimer: with increasing age, psychologically I may be writing in the spirit of "Dixi et salvavi animam meam" ["I have spoken and saved my soul"] a quote that is attributed to Karl Marx's ending of his critique of the Gotha program, while its meaning is extracted from the Bible (Ezekiel 33:9). Besides regular bibliographic references I make extensive albeit not exclusive use of Wikipedia-references, especially in Internet-links, because of their comprehensiveness and easy overview in terms of standardized layout. This is done with full knowledge and evaluation of their possible shortcomings, obviously including those surveyed by other sources than Wikipedia itself.
25) INFORMATION AS DEBATE, PEER REVIEW AND PUBLICATION. The more I studied and reflected, the more I got convinced that the main problem was not the lack of debates, books, publications, experiences, reflections, but rather the lack of wish, will, courage, that is "lack of time" , to select readings, to read, to think, or to understand in depth and to act upon knowledge that is still valid and already available. This paper studies the sterility of many debates, including those implicit in the publication of opinions.
24) REFLECTIONS ON THE DEPARTMENTAL 20 YEARS JUBILEE 2014. I was invited by my department from where I retired in 2002 to write a maximum of 360 words on occasion of its 20 years' jubilee in 2014. Starting as the only professor at the department and as its head for many years I was responsible for the build-up of its research and graduate education. I had a vision of fostering a systems approach in the spirit of prof. West Churchman at the University of California, Berkeley. I tell how I met a series of unforeseen challenges driven by fast changes in technology while I was critical of the ongoing "industrial" reorganization of universities.
23) WIKIPEDIA DEMOCRACY, AND WIKICRACY. This article is critical of Wikipedia in that it illustrates some of its aspects and problems when considered as an information systems, with its edits and editors seen in context. The argument is focused on a case study of edits of a Wikipedia page, and presupposes some prior knowledge of the workings of Wikipedia as specified in relevant links.
22) THE ILLUSION OF COMMUNICATIVE INFORMATION . In this essay I illustrate what kind of issues may be found at the basis of difficulties of communication and exchange of information, or in debates and arguments as background to certain forms of feminism.
21) RESEARCH SUMMARY ON THE 80TH BIRTHDAY (PRELIMINARY!). This is a preposterous "preliminary
summary" of an imagined 80th birthday. It is preposterous because I
should not be mortgaging the future,
but perhaps it is allowable if I simultaneously confess that I am conscious
that I may die before completing 80 years. Indeed, of course, I may die tonight
or right now. But I wish to share these thoughts with others with similar
destiny who in those words may find solace and own ways to self-understanding.
20) RESEARCH SUMMARY ON THE 75TH BIRTHDAY. On occasion of my 70th birthday in October 2007, and as a response to inquiries about research results, thoughts and feelings, both professional and personal, I presented the first part of the this text in the form of a few relevant excerpts from The Ecclesiastes. Under the subsequent years I did complete the text with some pertinent additions that are now gathered into this more comprehensive "Research Summary on the 75th Birthday" in October 2012.
19) THE ILLUSION OF STATE-INDIVIDUALISTIC ETHICS (TECHNOLOGICAL AGNOSTICISM) or "IS THE SWEDE A HUMAN BEING?" This text (October 2012) is a review of the academically ambitious book Är Svensken Människa? (Is the Swede a Human Being?) by Henrik Berggren and Lars Trägårdh. It is a statement and an explanation of Swedish national identity and character as expressed in its social code and in the particularities of its legal system, and therefore it also conditions the criteria by which researchers seek and get their funds, and consequently conduct more or less "agnostically" their research. My purpose is, once again, to understand and expose the process by which much if not most ongoing technological research ignores ethical and political issues.
18) ETHICS IN TECHNOLOGY, AND THEOLOGY OF THE FLESH. This research (April-July 2012) is a development of the section Flesh and theology without God of my review Trends in Philosophy of Technology (item 17 below) of Daniel Cérézuelle's book (in French) on Technology and the Flesh. The emphasis in on criticism of the application of Martin Heidegger's phenomenological thought as it contributes to the neglect of ethics. The text was removed from the rest of the review because of its volume. For a proper reading and understanding it should be read within the context of the review where it originated.
17) TRENDS IN PHILOSOPHY OF TECHNOLOGY. A summary and review in English of an ambitious and complex French book by Daniel Cérézuelle on philosophy of technology, including information and communication technology. The review includes links to other relevant research including my own, as well as links to material that furthers research in this area. It includes also comments on the particular phenomenological approach, the "philosophy of the body", its relation to postmodernism and aestheticist design, and possible loss of the ethical dimension because of theological shortcomings.
16) RESEARCHER'S PORTRAIT (in Swedish). An interview at
university's department of Informatics was edited with the purpose of portraying
my "state fo the art" around March 2012, and was included in the "portrait
gallery" of the deparment's researchers.
15) QUALITY CONTROL OF INFORMATION. Because of continuously renewed interest for my PhD dissertation on Quality-Control of Information, recently by editors of Wikipedia who considered its relevance as part of the history of wikis, I revised its presentation on my homepage especially dedicated to this work.
14) WIKILEAKS, INFORMATION, AND SYSTEMS. This research (June 2011) is an analysis of an article in TIME Magazine on "WikiLeak's War on secrecy" (printed in vol. 176, No. 24, December 13, 2010, pp. 20-27) in terms of my doctoral dissertation Quality-control of Information (1972) and its summary with extensions in my book Systemutveckling och Rättssäkerhet (1986, in Swedish, title to be translated as Systems Development and Rule of Law, in pdf-format 66MB). The purpose is to foster the application of a particular theoretical approach and conceptualization of information and systems to issues where such information displays its greatest complexity because of its technological, social, and political context. The analysis will proceed by interpolating my own text in italics within the text of the article.
13) ETHICS OF RESEARCH AND "THE LUCIFER EFFECT" By means of a critical review of Philip Zimbardo's book The Lucifer effect: How good people turn evil (2007) I wish to show how ethical concerns can unintendendly be explained away. This study is part of my ongoing research in understanding and offsetting what I perceive to be a systematic neglect of the ultimate purpose of research and of university education, including graduate education in the areas I know.
12) PRIVACY - INTEGRITY OF INFORMATION - COMMUNICATION. Because of ongoing perceptions of problems in the development and use of digital "social media" and integrated data bases, both governmental and private, I have been requested to make available some earlier research (in Swedish) which appears to be still highly relevant and stand at the basis of my main book on privacy vs. security, that is Systemutveckling och Rättssäkerhet (1986, in Swedish, title to be translated as Systems Development and Rule of Law, in pdf-format 66MB). A related research report where my co-author's meritorious contribution was to edit my - at the time particularly poor - Swedish language was published as (my translation of the title into English, here in pdf-format, 17 MB) Public Informations Systems' Effects on Public administration and Society (1974, earlier version reported to the Swedish Governmental Committee on the Coordination of Data, Ds Fi 1973:10, sect. 5.3 - 5.6). My text was later incorporated as the second half, chapter 5, of the co-authored book with the title ADB-System och Kommunikation (also 1974, ISBN 91-7206-057-3, here in pdf-format, 5 MB) a title which corresponds in English to, Automatic Data Processing Systems and Communication. Please note the possibility of fragmentary translations from Swedish by means of the tools offered at tradukka.com.
11) WIKILEAKS - FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION. The events involving Wikileaks and its main spokesman and editor-in-chief Julian Assange, actualize my research initiated in the 1980's and prompt me, with the permission of the publisher, to make available the original research results cast in the popular form of a book of mine published in 1986 but still valid and whose Swedish title translates into English as Systems Development and Rule of Law. (pdf-format 65 MB, ISBN 91-7152-404-5). It is written in Swedish language with the original title "Systemutveckling och Rättssäkerhet", but it is to some extent readable in English with the help of translation services such as in their simplest form tradukka.com. The core of the "political information theory" supporting the relevant parts of the book is, however, available in English language as published in my doctoral dissertation with the title Quality Control of Information: On the Concept of Accuracy in Data Banks and Management Information Systems. Directly or indirectly it covers issues of whistleblowing, freedom of expression (freedom of speech), power vs. truth, privacy, and political correctness as outlined in item no. 10 below.
10) POLITICAL CORRECTNESS. As a follow-up of my point (5) below on "Ongoing work" I published on 31 December 2010 a review of Howard Schwartz's book Society against itself: Political correctness and organizational self-destruction (London: Karnac Books, 2010). This is the latest version of the revised original manuscript which includes live links and some additional text is to be found linked to my home page. Swedish readers can appreciate the actuality of related issues by comparing with the Swedish revival in a theater play of Valerie Solanas' tragic "SCUM Manifesto", its eulogy in a review by one main newspaper, and the consequent isolated debate. For the rest, as a hint of some of my concerns which direct my ongoing work please see my weblog-BLOG with entries in English and Swedish languages.
OF COMPUTERS & PRESUPPOSITIONS OF SUPPORT. Research program and work
from 1989-1991 reviewed in November 2008. I wish to make
available to colleagues
an amount of references to printed material that was stored and systematized
mainly during the years 1989-1991 in view of a comprehensive
research program on the "essence" of computers and presuppositions
of computer support. The research was not pursued and concluded because
duties which did not leave room for
the material can be useful for others and it is presented in
its pristine form of drafts.(Please note that the headers' addresses and
phones are superseeded by those in my main homepage.)
1 Introduction and Summary (pdf)
2 A mathematical-information perspective (pdf)
3 A logical-psychological perspective (pdf)
4 Statistical data processing perspectives (pdf)
5 Softare systems perspective (pdf)
6 A computer-organizational perspective (pdf)
7 A musical perspective (pdf)
8 An applied research perspective (pdf)
9 A cultural criticism perspective (pdf)
10 Complete reference list - tentative (pdf)
(8) INTERVIEW (June 2008, pdf, in Swedish). On occasion of a short and quite informal interview at the Umeå Center för Interaction Technology I had the opportunity to restate some historical facts about informatics and myself, and to renew some frank and modest opinions about my ongoing and future work, in view of the present status of academia and its apparent development.
(7) INTERVIEW (October 2007, pdf, in Swedish). Popular summary (in Swedish - in pdf-format) of my reflections including research and heritage, on occasion of my 70th birthday as captured in an interview published by the newspaper Västerbottens-Kuriren 19 October 2007.
(6) RESEARCH SUMMARY ON THE 70TH BIRTHDAY. On occasion of my 70th birthday in october 2007, and as a response to inquiries about research results, thoughts and feelings, both professional and personal, I presented the following short summary based on a few relevant excerpts from The Ecclesiastes. It can also work as a handbook for professors emeriti in general, and as a guide for progressive closing of life's balance-sheet.
see also above item No.10 - in areas of interest which are partly documented
or outlined in the form of blog-like
notes deals with
cultural criticism of present trends in Swedish intellectual life within
of Western thinking, on the basis of experiences and reflections from the
field of informatics and "information", as well as from thoughts
about "theological aesthetics". Scandinavian readers may appreciate
that such concerns are similar to those expressed, for instance,
in the following works:
a) Stjernfelt, F., & Thomsen, S. U. (2007). Kritik av den negativa uppbyggligheten [Critique of the negative edification]. Stockholm: Ruin Förlag. (Danish orig. Kritik af den negative opbyggelighed. Published by Borgen/Vindrose, 2005.)
b) Arnstberg, K.-O. (2007). Svenska tabun [Swedish tabus]. Stockholm: Carlssons
(4) WHITHER COMPUTERS AND SYSTEMS? CONFESSIONS OF A 2006-EMERITUS. This is a version of the essay published on occasion of the 40th jubileum (years 1966-2006) of the department which eventually came to be named "computer and systems sciences" (in Swedish, "data- och systemvetenskap") at Stockholm University and the Royal Institute of Technology. It was an opportunity to expand and complement some of my earlier memories and thoughts (among others "A subsystem in the design of informatics: Recalling an archetypal engineer", also in pdf-format, published 1995) about the field's disciplines and people. I am grateful for having been invited to contribute in writing to this celebration, which also allowed me to express some constructive apprehension about the future of the disciplinary development.
(3) EXPERIMENTAL REALISM VS. EMPIRICAL IDEALISM. An attempt to problematize the apparent phenomenological turn of some of the research at the department at the end of 2003 and beginning of 2004 is summarized in a draft with the title "Experimental realism and empirical idealism in informatics: A virtual interviewer of Don Ihde, and West Churchman" (2004, also in pdf-format, 110KB). Earlier initial tendencies in this direction as inspired by the work of sociologist Karl Weick were considered cursorily in the notes for a series of seminars on "Dialectical systems design and beyond" (years 2000-2002). Conception of technologies in general och information-communication artifacts in particular, inspired by the work of Churchman, were presented as "Contributions of systems thinking to the understanding and use of information technology: Infrastructure, change, and bricolage", with additional notes referring to the phenomenology of M. Merleau-Ponty, including the problem of embodiment as in M. Johnson's "the body in the mind", and G. Lakoff & M. Johnson's "philosophy in the flesh".
SCIENCE AND GNOSTICISM. The engagement, in March 2003, as faculty
opponent for the act of disputation of a doctoral dissertation at the department
of computer science of the Lund Institute of Technology, Lund university.
bibliographic data of the object and stream of this research are as follows:
Persson, Erik (2002). Shadows of cavernous shades: Charting the chiaroscuro of realistic computing (alternative link here). Lund: Lund University, Dept. of Computer Science. (Doctoral diss. No. 20, 2003, LU-CS-DISS:2003:1, ISSN 1650-1268, ISBN 91-628-5512-3, xiv+727 pp. in A4-format, with a bibliography of 4448 entries, and 2877 notes!) See especially chap. 4 on "Realistic computing" relating to virtual reality and visualization, and chap. 5 on "Science, metaphysics and computing". The author summarized some of his thoughts in (pdf-download) "Cybergnosticism Triumphant?", in The Ellul Forum, Issue 43, Spring 2009, 3-11.
Cf. the account of this doctoral disputation by Anders Fagerström "Gud-vetenskapen slutade 2-1" [God-science ended 2-1] in Sydsvenska Dagbladet, p. C11. 9 March 2003. Review by Christian Braw "Tro, tvivel och vetenskap" ["Faith, doubt and science"], Svenska Dagbladet 22 July 2003, "Under strecket", restricted access at a link at Svenska Dagbladet's web address <http://www.svd.se/understrecket>, accessed 25 July 2003. An Interview with the author was published in Dagen, 25 April 2003. Reflections on interviews with people involved in the dissertations's disputation process were edited by Britta Collberg in "Avhandlingar som rör om" [Stirring doctoral dissertations] in Lund university's journal LUM, Vol. 36, No. 8, 2003, pp. iii-vi (part of the pdf-document linked here). The dissertations's "Addenda et corrigenda" (in English), including errata for the text of dissertation, 7 pages, are obtainable from the author.
(1) SHORT SUMMARY OF LOCAL ACHIEVEMENTS, (in Swedish), celebrative talk held on occasion of the promotion to professor emeritus on October 1st, 2002.
Period up to September 2002
Disciplinary studies and basic research in informatics and systems science. Selected texts.
For the period after September 2002 please see the special section above.
(1) Selected publications (up to 2001) with reference, first of all, to the doctoral dissertation on Quality-Control of Information (1972) later followed by my book based on it (1986, in Swedish, pdf-format, 66 MB) System Development and Rule of Law. Its subject matter has been shown to retain its timeliness and importance as exemplified by many reports in books and mass media since 1972. Just one example is an extensive debate article in the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter by the end of 2008, more than 35 years after the dissertation, warning the public for systematic errors in the processing of computer data about citizens' individual data such as retirement benefits.
(2) The Systems Approach to Design, and Inquiring Information Systems: Scandinavian experiences and proposed research program, (2001, as abstracted in the publication in Information Systems Frontiers, vol 3, No 1; see also a pre-publication version). It is supplemented by the materials for an ongoing series of research seminars, on
(3) Ethics and Politics of Design and System Cultures for an ongoing (2001) critical review of latest tendencies in informatic theorizing about "design" as contrasted to systems thinking, and related to postromantic and postmodern tendencies (pre-Socratic sophistry and post-Kantian aestheticizing on the basis of the Third Critique, of "Judgment", and philosophies of Fichte, Schelling, Nietzsche, Bergson, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Lyotard). It also includes the rationale for earlier research projects on
(4) Aesthetics and Ethics of Multimedia Research, and Computers' Cultural Nature: Motivations for use, and basis for design and evaluations (1996, Statements of research intentions and projects). The build-up of this position during the last years is documented in the following selected papers, chronologically:
(5) Computer-supported Human Science or Humanistic Computing Science (1991, 370KB),
(6) Critical Systems Thinking and Information Technology (1991, J. of Applied Systems Analysis, Vol. 18, 39-55).
Ivanov's specific personal contribution and extension of the dialectical social systems theory, close to the aim of "critical systems thinking" and "critical systems heuristics"), is represented (before the final twist towards politics, ethics, and theology) by
(7) Hypersystems: A base for specification of computer-supported self-learning social systems (pre-publication version). In C. M. Reigeluth & B. H. Banathy & J. R. Olson (Eds.), Comprehensive systems design: A new educational technology (pp. 381-407). New York: Springer-Verlag, 1993. Some of these thoughts are detailed further in a publication written later but published earlier, i.e.
(8) Computer-human interaction as continuous system reconstruction. In M. Bazewicz (Ed.), Information Systems' Architecture and Technology ISAT '92 (pp. 37-49). Wroclaw: Politechnika Wroclawska, 1992. The attempt to develop dialectical systems theory by reviewing its basis in politics, and, further, in ethics and theology, is represented by works that follow,
(9) Belief and Reason (1993, 270KB), (Commented selections on presuppositions of participatory cooperative argumentative design and change),
(10) The Search for a Theory of Hypermedia [multimedia] (1995). In Proceedings of the Information Systems Research Seminar in Scandinavia IRIS'18 (pp. 283-293). (Gothenburg Studies in Informatics, Report 7). An earlier version was presented at the international Workshop on Social Contexts of Hypermedia, Umeå, February 17-18, 1995,
(11) Presuppositions in information systems design: From systems to networks and contexts? Accounting, Management and Information Technology, renamed Information & Organization, 5, 99-114.(1996, 1OOO KB, in PDF-format, link to on-line web-access, and here link to pre-publication draft of research report,
(12) Strategies and Design for Information Technology: Eastern or neo-romantic wholes, and the return to Western systems. (1997/1998, 100 KB), and
(13) Platonic information technology. Reading Plato: Cultural influences and philosophical reflection on information and technology, (2000, Proc. of ISTAS 2000, IEEE Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Symposium on Technology and Society, 6-8 September 2000, Rome; link to publisher. For a pre-publication version, click here). This essay is an edited selection from a longer ongoing study, Platonic Information Technology (2000-2001, 300 KB, also in PDF-format, including Table of Contents) a reader with reference to edited excerpts of Plato's collected works, to be possibly followed later by a similar project on Aristotelian Information Technology.
A pervasive theoretical and methodological inspiration for these concerns with
respect to informatics including computer science has long been
(14) C. West Churchman in his work on the philosophy and practice of science, in particular systems science, at the
University of California-Berkeley,
as represented mainly by The Design of Inquiring Systems (1971) and
lately by the Ethics
and Sustainability Forum. In order to put into evidence
the relevance of this work for design in general and information
systems or IT-artefacts in particular, including its relevance for other research
and education going on in the department, please see the link to
(16) Index to The Design of Inquiring Systems (2002, 130 KB, also in PDF-format). Among the entries there will be found also names of the staff of the department as associated to key words and issues that characterize their areas of interest.
A short selective selective summary of the local, departmental research and education effort based on more than 40 years' working life is available in the form of the following text:
(17) Speech held September 27th 2002 on occasion of prof. Kristo Ivanov's promotion to emeritus (in Swedish), effective October 1st 2002, by Kenneth Nilsson, head of the department of Informatics, Umeå University.