Author: Bryant, Antony
The spread of information and communication technologies (ICTs) since the late 1940s has been remarkable. ICTs are ubiquitous, and they are studied under a variety of different headings in various major divisions in Universities around the world. Yet one of the key reference disciplines – Information Systems [IS] – is a domain in crisis: Having battled for an existence and identity independent from computing and business, its legitimacy and coherence as a separate field of study has been questioned, both from within and without.

This book analyzes and characterizes this dispute, and, using Zygmunt Bauman’s analysis of sociology, concluding that IS as a discipline is an inherently flawed discourse. The author offers an analysis of each element of the ICT triad – Information, Communication, Technology – and having done so, concludes that the more inclusive and challenging term informatics is more appropriate, and that the challenge is to think informatically. The remaining chapters then outline the ramifications of this challenge, seeking to revitalize informatics as a domain, and clarify its position in relation to related disciplines in the social sciences.


“This remarkable study ends with an appeal: it is high time for ‘the far-reaching scope of informatics’, stifled as it has been thus far by a variety of self-imposed ‘limiting concepts’, to emerge ‘in its own right’ from its semi-tolerated hiding and/or semi-legal confinement ‘within the IS academy’. It’s high time, in other words, to acknowledge countless social connections – the roots as well as repercussions – of informatics; and to admit that the advent of informatics both reflects and prompts a chain of crucial social departures ... This is the substance of Dr. Bryant’s message – and he makes a very strong case indeed for the message to be listened to and absorbed. Few readers of this book would doubt its soundness and urgency ... This book will surely serve for many years as an essential reference – and not just for the experts in informatics, but any scholar keen to penetrate the secret of our still not fully understood world ...” – (from the Preface) Zygmunt Bauman, Professor Emeritus, University of Leeds

“ ... An important point about Dr. Bryant’s book is that it unpacks the concepts of information, communication and technology, rather than talking – as most do – about information and communication technologies. People inform themselves by make sense of data ... Another real contribution in this age of memory loss and faddishness is that the book traces some of the key concepts of information back to the likes of Shannon, and it traces business computing back to the LEO computer – the first commercial application of what was then a new technology. This historical and conceptual context is what makes the book a real contribution to our understanding of the meta-discipline of Information Systems.” – Professor Robert D. Galliers, Bentley College

“ ... Dr. Bryant broadens the discourse about the information/communication revolution in our time to consider the information and communications technologies and their affordances, capabilities and effects through the broad lens of sociology rather than the more narrow views of organizations or of technology ... This book challenges everyone involved in the broad field to evaluate current thinking, consider new thoughts, and perhaps build a broader view for a field of academic research and teaching and change the approaches to practice.” – Gordon B. Davis, Professor Emeritus, University of Minnesota

"It is necessary for an academic field to reflect, from time to time, on its intellectual state, revisit its origins, and take a critical look at the dominant traits of the knowledge it produces. Such exercises often uncover debilitating biases hidden in the taken-for-granted ‘normal’ discourse of the field. In this book Bryant traces technocratic biases of the IS field in early appropriations of the fundamental concepts of information, communication, and technology in seminal publications ... in the intellectual circles of cybernetics at the end of the Second World War. He also reminds us of early contestations and controversies surrounding the emergence of the technocratic perspective, referring mainly to the work of Jacques Ellul.” - Information Technology and People

Table of Contents

List of Tables/Figures
Preface by Zygmunt Bauman
Foreword by Frank Land

Part One: Informatics
1. Thinking Informatically

Part Two: Information, Communication, Technology
2. Information
3. Only Communicate
4. Technology

Part Three: Informatics and Liquid Modernity
5. Liquid Modernity: Milestones & Maelstroms
6. Informatics – Disciplined Strategies for Disciplinary Complexities