(Big) history of information




László Z. Karvalics, University of Szeged, Hungary


Talking about „Information Revolutions” in World History, there is no answer from the technological deterministic approach to a simple question: a structural change in the tools and effectivity of information management is a cause or a consequence of great socioeconomic transformations?

We propose to analyze the all-time information culture in the context of all-time environmental challenges to build solid foundation to comparative history research. We highlight information anthropology basics: the cyclic nature of information, isolating its representation, processing and action output stages, applying the information stock-flow model.

Using this conceptual framework, we can approach the World History using bigger and bigger time-series, coupling with different theories of Big History. The information anthropology point of view seems to be valid and operative dealing with the whole, two hundred thousand years history of homo sapiens and the more than two million years prehistory of hominids.

And what is more, we can talk about the zoo-history of information, since the birth of information behavior has been emerging only in the given point of the development of living systems. Identifying and understanding this “origin of neuropsychological information” provides us clear conceptual framework to restart, re-read and re-frame the long history of information, concerning to its primordial nature.

Subjects and scope

  • Where is the border in the history of living systems between the “informationable” and “informationless”? How can we define the tipping point(s)?
  • How can we understand the evolutionary logic and the environmental factors behind the emergence of neuropsychological information?
  • What are the prerequisites of information behavior? What is the role of locomotion in it?
  • What are the roots to extero-and enteroception? Which are the generic archetypes of representation, thinking, meaning and meaningfulness?
  • How can we reconstruct the earliest decision making and control mechanisms?
  • Are there any difference between ‘informationable’ and intelligent?
  • How about the origins of memory and social information transfer, transcending the individual information activity?
  • Where are the quantum-leaps in a long history of zooinformation?
  • Can we define pre-human information technologies?
  • Do we find any heuristic value in the re-interpretation of different and more complex forms of communication and the origins of language in general information context?
  • The social life of information: (only) size and complexity matters?
  • Are there any “laws”, common patterns, general models of human information history? How many revolutionary stages we see?

Target groups

Paleozoologists, cognitive archaeologists, information anthropologists, information historians.

Main readings

Hawkins, Jeff: On Intelligence (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2005)

Kardos, Lajos: The Origins of neuropsychological information (Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest,1984)

King, Barbara J.: The Information Continuum. Evolution of Social Information Transfer in Monkeys, Apes and Hominids (Sar Press, Santa Fé, 1994)

Spink, Amanda: Information behavior – an evolutionary instinct (Dordrecht: Springer, 2010)

Whitney-Smith, Elin: Winning Information Revolutions http://information-revolutions.com/

Important Dates

Submission deadline: 27 February 2015
Notification of acceptance: 20 March 2015