Our first monograph in the DEMO series is Professor Robert Logan’s What is Information? Originally conceived for readership in information sciences and the McLuhan media ecology community, Bob’s latest book was reviewed by a university publisher as a conventional scholarly monograph. Authorial titles are no longer sold to many scholars and libraries, and university publishers now decline most of these proposals. The editors (Peter Jones and Greg Van Alstyne) know Logan’s body of work, and recognize his contributions as a unique, powerful interface of systemic thinking, media and language studies, and complexity. His work exemplifies the types of books we expect to publish in the Author imprint of reviewed monographs.
What is Information? is a unique title within information studies. It is strongly interdisciplinary, crossing information theory, systems theory, new media and cognitive linguistics. Therefore, it may carry provocative themes and insights that require of the reader a broader frame of reference than the known, narrow path. Among these interruptive inquiries is Bob’s notion of there being different forms and frames of information in ecological contexts. Logan starts by denying Shannon’s fundamental information theory a comprehensive reach, while respecting its boundaries. With help from Stuart Kauffman, he shows that biotic information—the instructions of life and reproduction—requires a different theory of information entirely from bit-oriented signal processing.
The book takes on the complex issue of defining information as a carrier of meaning versus signals processed by meaning-makers. Recovering the importance of MacKay’s original contribution of the “distinction that makes a difference,” Logan bridges information and media theory. If meaning is the coherence of organization, then information as meaning remains consistent with the notion of negative entropy. While media may shape the expression and meaning of meaning, it is information that signals the meaning of the medium. The power of language in developing symbols generates a constant source of meanings through information. To better distinguish these functions of “information” Dr. Logan relates information as a functional power of organization within four ecosystems: Biosphere, Symbolosphere, Technosphere, and Econosphere. The Biosphere gives rise to human cultures through information, and culture gives rise to the other three spheres. Information is the mediator of these spheres.
What is Information? benefits from a rich interactive collaboration with designers and the author. An editorially-directed design collaboration invested the title with a visually communicative expression that communicates and amplifies meaning beyond the text.
Dr. Logan is also Chief Scientist and one of the founders of Strategic Innovation Lab, and we disclose he is fully participating in the experimental function of this publication. The core publishing team—Garry Ing, Peter Jones, and Greg Van Alstyne—being members of an academic design lab, also aim to innovate publishing processes, by running studies on publishing models based on small volume, precisely targeted titles. We also hope to change design scholarship, if only in a small way, by innovating the meaning of scholarly design work. While this collaborative design was produced post-review, we plan to share new manuscripts (as appropriate) with our registered community for both review and possible contribution of design concept to enhance meaning.
We founded DEMO Publishing in 2012 as a research group within Strategic Innovation Lab (sLab) at OCAD University in Toronto. DEMO’s mission is to launch new formats and genres of interdisciplinary design and media research currently unavailable in today’s online and print media. DEMO, as Design Emergence Media Organization, presents theoretical work and design research underpinning innovation systems and behaviors. DEMO intersects design theories of media and the social ecosystem, conceptual media design, organizational and business design as communications (media), and foresight and innovation in complex systems. All of these domains manifest emergence and demand continual updating of our systemic design thinking.
Our Publications and Projects
DEMO products are organized around three imprints (or form factors), each a different approach to publication and a model for researching new publishing processes. These include:
- Scholarly author monographs
- Edited article collections
- Collaborative or sponsored research projects
We will advertise and sell online, socially and through the “colleges” that produce authors and reviewers.
Our Research Model
Strategic Innovation Lab (sLab) pursues research to explore and accelerate innovation futures, and as design researchers we recognized the dearth of design influence in scholarly publishing. While the top journals are excellent vehicles for the traditional article, they are not yet standing up for the interdisciplinary designer breaking new ground outside the known design disciplines. We also recognize that design scholarship does not offer publications as platforms for visual and expressive languages consistent with designerly values. Design journals and articles ought to reflect the cultures that define their forms of excellence.
We are not going to wait for publishers to change. DEMO can model the changes we foresee in the knowledge ecology. We will make DEMO books and collections available through online retail channels such as Amazon, our website, and group purchases.
Editorial and Authorship
To be clear to prospective authors, we do not expect DEMO to become a growing independent publishing business. It operates like a scholarly journal, a labour of care for thinkers and their ideas in the design communities. We are academics and working designers interested in learning from and sharing a more transparent and community-oriented approach to scholarly communication and field development.
We expect our first authors to be those active in our communities of practice and inquiry. Some authors write monographs, others research articles, and we find high value in graduate student research projects and working papers as well. Each of these types deserves a compatible form.
We encourage authors interested in proposing a title or submitting a manuscript to contact an editor directly and express the concept briefly in summary. We will exchange and consult among our board and respond with advice or response. We encourage notable and published scholars in these interdisciplinary fields to serves as editorial board members for DEMO. Please contact the Editors if interested via demopublishing.com.
Socialize this Book!
We believe readers and authors will communicate the discovered value. In this edition, we invite you to take up correspondence with author Bob Logan and the publishers through the channels detailed at the end of the book.