Information in the ecosystem: Against the “information ecosystem”

Timothy B. Norris, Todd Suomela, First Monday, Sept 01, 2017
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This is a detailed analysis and c riticism of the 'information ecosystem' metaphor. The authors argue that human societies are not ecosystems and that the use of the metaphor obscures important elements of communities and human interaction. For one thiing, quoting Richard Stallman, "“It is inadvisable to describe the free software community, or any human community, as an ‘ecosystem,’ because that word implies the absence of ethical judgment.” Additionally, the use of the 'ecosystem' metaphore does not capture the idea that data and markets are human constructions and are based in judgements and theories. "An ecosystem is not purposefully made by organisms for material exchange." Moreover, "To reduce an ecosystem to the human-made, such as an information ecosystem, denies possibilities of spiritualism and non-quantifiable relationships that are found in nature." Good article. Set aside some significant time for it.

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