Infosphere is a neologism composed of information and sphere. The word refers to an environment, like a biosphere, that is populated by informational entities called inforgs. While an example of the sphere of information is cyberspace, infospheres are not limited to purely online environments.
History of the Infosphere
The first documented use of the word "InfoSphere" was a 1971 Time Magazine book review by R.Z. Sheppard in which he writes "In much the way that fish cannot conceptualize water or birds the air, man barely understands his infosphere, that encircling layer of electronic and typographical smog composed of cliches from journalism, entertainment, advertising and government."
In 1980 it was used by Alvin Toffler in his book The Third Wave in which he writes "What is inescapably clear, whatever we choose to believe, is that we are altering our infosphere fundamentally...we are adding a whole new strata of communication to the social system. The emerging Third Wave infosphere makes that of the Second Wave era - dominated by its mass media, the post office, and the telephone - seem hopelessly primitive by contrast".
In his book Digital Dharma, Steven Vedro writes, "Emerging from what French philosopher-priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin called the shared noosphere of collective human thought, invention and spiritual seeking, the Infosphere is sometimes used to conceptualize a field that engulfs our physical, mental and etheric bodies; it affects our dreaming and our cultural life. Our evolving nervous system has been extended, as media sage Marshall McLuhan predicted in the early 1960s, into a global embrace."
The term has also been used by Luciano Floridi, on the basis of biosphere, to denote the whole informational environment constituted by all informational entities (thus including informational agents as well), their properties, interactions, processes and mutual relations. It is an environment comparable to, but different from cyberspace (which is only one of its sub-regions, as it were), since it also includes off-line and analogue spaces of information. According to Floridi, it is possible to equate the Infosphere to the totality of Being. This equation leads him to an informational ontology.
Manipulation of the Infosphere
The manipulation of the infosphere is subject to metaphysics and its rules. Information is considered to be Shannon information and is treated in a physical sense separate from energy and matter. The manipulations to the infosphere include the erasing, transfer, duplication, and destruction of information.
Publications using the Infosphere
The term was used by Dan Simmons in the science-fiction saga Hyperion (published 1989) to indicate what the Internet could become in the future: a place parallel, virtual, formed of billions of networks, with "artificial life" on various scales, from what is equivalent to an insect (small programs) to what is equivalent to a god (artificial intelligences), whose motivations are diverse, seeking to both help mankind and harm it.
In the animated sitcom Futurama, the Infosphere is a huge sphere floating in space, in which a species of giant, talking, floating brains attempts to store all of the information known in the universe.
- R.Z. Sheppard (1971-04-12), "Rock Candy", Time Magazine, retrieved 2010-05-05
- Alvin Toffler (1980), The Third Wave, p. 172
- Luciano Floridi (1999), Philosophy and Computing: An introduction
- Charles Seife (2006), Decoding the Universe: How the New Science of Information Is Explaining Everything in the Cosmos, from Our Brains to Black Holes, p. 2
- The Infosphere, The Futurama Wiki
- Steven Vedro, Digital Dharma: A Users Guide to Expanding Consciousness in the Age of the Infosphere (Quest, 2007)*
- L. Floridi, A Look into the Future Impact of ICT on our Lives
- Preface of L. Floridi, Philosophy and Computing: An Introduction. London/New York: Routledge, 1999.
- L. Floridi Ethics in the Infosphere
- IBM InfoSphere products