Information Ecology

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Richard Lowenberg
Davis Community Network

The information environment; the flow of information; and informationÂ’s sensory and communicative effects have to date, not been included in most whole-systems ecological understandings and applications. This is a major omission that has concerning consequences.


Ecology is the study of the complex interactions between living and non-living, inter-dependent dynamic systems. It describes the fragile balance in which such systems inter-relate and through which they co-evolve.
No seriously intelligent person can dispute what we now know about ecology. The complexity of the chaotically dynamic processes that encompass our lives, imposes a dire need for us to reconsider economic relationships and social values. Some economists are now attempting to understand and to propose a new sense of values; new economic theories, based upon our knowledge of ecological processes. With the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and Entropy as its underpinnings, this new thinking is beginning to have real and immediate effect among


All too often, in considering our environment, we think of the Earth: soil, water, air, living things, etc.; a material, tangible environment. But these material systems are bound together in a flow of sustaining energy and information: the Earth-Sun-Universe connection. It is this thermodynamic life force, this radiant electromagnetic environment, and its impacts on the body and mind, to which a sense of ecology must be acknowledged.
Information can be considered in a number of ways. Mechanistically, information has qualities much like mass or energy. It is transmitted and received with some force or action. Information channels may be compared to the nerves and bones in living systems. They are the web of social communications. The flow of information determines the course of dynamic social evolution. According to this view, information may be treated as a useful natural resource; a commodity that can be transported, bought and sold, and regulated.
Information, however, must also be considered as patterns of perception, relationships and differences. In coming to terms with an ecology of the information environment, with an ecology of the force, the message and the medium of this most natural resource, accounting for such dynamic cognitive-sensory processes must be integral to any comprehensive formulation.


Information ecology extends our basic understandings of ecology to the physical, social and economic transformations being wrought by the rapid developments in information technology, networking, and by our becoming an increasingly tele-networked 'society of mind'.
The Information Revolution, as a technologically driven revolution, will likely result in increased social systematization, bureaucracy and waste. The more energy consuming, and less ecologically interdependent, the more fragile technological progress becomes; and ultimately more disruptive in its potential (inevitable) failure.

(This pattern proposes a pattern panel discussion and/or open space workshop.)

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