Monday 26 September 2011

Back again: DTMD 2011; and a bid to the Templeton Foundation

The long silence on this blog was due largely to me being fully focused on two deadlines over the summer: for DTMD 2011; and for a grant application to The Templeton Foundation.

DTMD (The Difference that Makes a Difference) 2011 (7th - 9th September) was, from my perspective anyway, very successful. By which I mean we had an excellent range of speakers and some extremely valuable discussion. I certainly have learned a lot from it, and as I continue to think back over it I know I'll be learning lots more. For the moment, see, where you can can get a copy of the abstracts booklet, and shortly there will be copies of the slides of all the presentations and also the audio recordings. Hopefully there'll be more blog posts about it here in the future, but some of the delegates have already posted about it on their blogs, including:
Regarding the John Templeton Foundation bid, we'd had an online application (the first stage of the application process) accepted and were now invited to submit a full application for the 1st September deadline. The easiest way of explaining what we* are asking for is to quote the Executive Summary from the bid itself:
Interdisciplinary conversations on information: the new universal language 
The development of information technologies has had a profound impact on modern society, and the language of information is increasingly used in a remarkably diverse range of disciplines. It has both practical and philosophical implications, with applications as wide as cosmology, quantum physics and theology, as well as the familiar territory of technology and library science. However it remains a difficult and contested concept. This project seeks: 
  1.  to share insights to improve understanding about information in each field; 
  2.  to contribute to the development of a unified theory of information; 
  3.  to communicate widely the new ideas about information formulated within the project; 
  4.  to foster an awareness of the importance of information both within a wide range of academic disciplines and among the educated general public 
The project is a three year interdisciplinary conversation. There will be three annual themed workshops, one PhD studentship and the ongoing work of two investigators.  
As part of each workshop, artists will be invited to propose works that would reflect, interpret and communicate some of the subjects explored by the other presenters at the workshop. At the end of the workshop one artist will be commissioned to create the work they proposed.  
The project outputs will be three sets of workshop proceedings, three works of art, and a qualified PhD student and their dissertation. The applicants will also maintain a project website and a blog, and will aim to publish both academic and general interest outputs.  
The outcome will be: a better understanding of information; greater awareness and more effective use of informational concepts in a wide variety of different disciplines; and a more cohesive interdisciplinary community exploring information as a way of making sense of the world.

* 'We' is firstly my colleague Magnus Ramage and me.  All the activities that I've been doing on 'information' (including DTMD 2011 and the Templeton Foundation bid) have been in collaboration with Magnus. There are also lots of other people involved, however - collaboration is very important to our way of working.  

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