Information is an absolute requirement for a society to become sustainable.

Our research targets this objective.

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The problem

Economy- and military-driven positivism has been splitting up science into ever more specialised disciplines that are siloed against each other.

Those disciplines need to be put together in a transdisciplinary framework to let new knowledge emerge – knowledge that helps unite diverse social systems for the survival of humanity and anybody’s good life.

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The vision

By doing use-inspired basic research the Institute shall provide civil society, governments and businesses with a better understanding of social transformation processes.

Moreover, it shall facilitate the design of the transformation of social systems into building blocks of a Global Sustainable Information Society. A Global Sustainable Information Society would allow for another step in the evolution of humanity. It would cope with the global challenges that are caused by social dysfunctions and require a re-organisation of the current state of world order.

Based upon that vision, the mission can identify enablers and constraints on the way to a better future.

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The mission

The Institute aims at integrating

  • the study of social dynamics with
  • the study of information dynamics and each of which with
  • the study of the dynamics of complex systems.

This is a transdisciplinary endeavourIt does not only comprise social sciences, sciences of information and systems sciences. It puts any issue of culture, politics, economy, ecology and technology into the perspective of a meta-level. On that meta-level, a new, consistent, but tailored, methodology reflects the whole in any part.

A critical social science way of thinking focusses on the functions social relations fulfil. It assures that the implementation of such a mission is measured against the vision.

A brief history 2003-2019

Foundation

The Institute was founded initially in 2003 as Unified Theory of Information Research Group to support the project Human Strategies in Complexity” that was carried out at the TU Wien (Vienna University of Technology) 2001-2004, funded by INTAS and Austrian public funds. An association for the advancement of the integration of the sciences of information by Austrian law, the focus of research was intended to revolve, and has been revolving since, around self-organisation of systems, information and information society, including technology.

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Achievements

  • UTI Research Group Executive Board members Wolfgang Hofkirchner and Christian Fuchs collaborated in a working group at the Paris Lodron University Salzburg, most of who have become members of the UTI Research Group by 2010. They had developed preliminaries to a critical social systems theory, which is referred to in the literature as “Salzburg approach” (Poe Yu-ze Wan 2011).
  • The UTI Research Group finalised in 2013, co-ordinated by Fuchs, the project “Social Networking Sites in the Surveillance Society”. Thomas Allmer and Sebastian Sevignani, since 2018 UTI Research Group Executive Board members, were collaborators in the project. This project was funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF.
  • In 2013, Hofkirchner published the monograph Emergent Information. A Unified Theory of Information Framework, based on Evolutionary Systems Theory.
  • In 2014, Fuchs published with Sage the essential textbook for students on Social Media – a critical introduction, which is an introduction to critical theory as well (second edition 2017).
  • In 2015, Allmer published Critical Theory and Social Media: Between Emancipation and Commodification with Routledge.
  • In the same year, Rainer E. Zimmermann, UTI Group Member, published part I of Metaphysics of Emergence dealing with foundations of systems thinking.
  • In 2016, Sevignani published Privacy and Capitalism in the Age of Social Media, also with Routledge.
  • In 2017, the edited volumes The Future Information Society and Information Studies and the Quest for Transdisciplinarity were published by UTI Group Members Hofkirchner and Mark Burgin.
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Networking

  • In 2004, the Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science was founded with Hofkirchner as President until 2018.
  • Hofkirchner and Fuchs have been co-ordinating activities of the ICTs-and-Society Network, founded in 2008 in Salzburg. The 5th ICTs and Society Conference was held under the title The Internet and Social Media at a Crossroads: Capitalism or Commonism? Perspectives for Critical Political Economy and Critical Theory in 2015.
  • The UTI Research Group became institutional member of the Netzwerk TA (NTA) (Network Technology Assessment).
  • Since 2008 there has been a co-operation with the Spanish association BITrum that started as a project group on the elucidation of the information concept.
  • Hofkirchner organised and co-chaired the first-ever international conference Towards a New Science of Information in 2010 in Beijing. In the aftermath, the International Society for the Study of Information (IS4SI; in the beginning, under the name of International Society for Information Studies) was founded as an umbrella organisation for academia in sciences of information in 2011 in Vienna. Hofkirchner, Co-Founding President, President 2013-2015 and organiser of the Summit 2015 in Vienna, has been Vice-President for Funds since 2015.
  • In Austria, the OCG (Austrian Computer Society) Arbeitskreis Information Studies was entertained from 2011 to 2016, co-chaired by UTI Research Group Members Peter Fleissner, Hofkirchner and Franz Ofner.
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Spin-off

The UTI Research Group had been publishing tripleC: Cognition, Communication, Cooperation. Open Access Journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society. Since 2013, this journal has been running under the name tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique. Open Access Journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society. It receives financial support from the University of Westminster. The editors, Fuchs and Marisol Sandoval, are former Members of the UTI Research Group Executive Board and now Members of the Institute.

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Restructuring

In 2018/2019, the association underwent a restructuring. What was before implicit in the scope (the integration of, and with, systems and social sciences) was made explicit in that its new name extends to globality and sustainability (systems sciences) and to society (social sciences). The articles were changed accordingly.

  • Thus, the UTI Research Group morphed into the first research group of The Institute for a Global Sustainable Information Society, an association for the integration and implementation of systems, information and social sciences.
  • A second research group – on Emergent Systems, Information and Society – affiliated with the Institute in 2018. That group was founded in 2015 by UTI Research Group Members Hofkirchner and Zimmermann together with Hans-Jörg Kreowski. It is still co-extensive with an Arbeitskreis of the Leibniz-Sozietät der Wissenschaften zu Berlin and a Special Interest Group of the International Society for the Study of Information. 2015-2018 it was supported by the Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Sciences.
  • Fuchs and Sandoval withdrew in October 2018 from the Executive Board. Allmer and Sevignani were co-opted and, by a General Meeting in February 2019, confirmed as Members of the present Institute Executive Board, together with Hofkirchner as Director.
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The Photo

Sunrise from Pixabay.

The Collage

Helmut Kurz-Goldenstein and Maria Magdalena Steiner, Untitled, 95 x 124 cm, 1989 © Bildrecht Wien, 2019. This artwork using techniques of collage design, is to show the struggle of humanity, represented by Adam- and Eve-like figures, for justice, peace and the integrity of creation.

The Video

The song What a wonderful world, performed by Soap&Skin, helps imagine how wonderful our world could be made – even if such a state is several steps ahead of where the world is now.

Video: Director: Timo Schierhorn, Co-Director: Anja Plaschg, Editor: Anja Plaschg, Thank You: Maria Smith.
Music: 
Soap&SkinWhat a wonderful world, taken from the new album From Gas to Solid / you are my friend out 26th October 2018.

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Updated on 2019-04-11T13:34:43+02:00, by schoenswetter.