Information Technology and Aesthetics: Passive and Active Dimensions

John D Haynes, David Bryan Paradice

Abstract


This paper is concerned with examining and recognizing aesthetics in an Information System (an organization incorporating both humans and information technology). Aesthetics emerge from the wholeness of things, not from specific parts or components. As such, aesthetics may naturally be considered in “systems”, and we propose that an effective manner of thinking of aesthetics is to think in terms of “themes”. Humans have an extraordinary capacity to capture events thematically. In other words, human beings have a natural sense of aesthetics. To examine aesthetics in an information systems context, we argue that one must consider not only aesthetics that may be perceived by the senses (a passive dimension), but also aesthetics that may be conceived in the mind (an active dimension). This paper draws the conclusion that the benefits of aesthetics in relation to the study of Information Systems, has characteristics similar to the nature and importance of ethics in IS. Also, the study of aesthetics in IS has greater implications than simply recognizing and appreciating beauty and art. The very human capacity for recognizing and appreciating beauty and art is also the same capacity for effective creativity and happiness: the active aesthetic dimension. It follows that if an information system encouraged and provided the enabling circumstances for the human capacity of thematic recognition (as found in the human appreciation of art and beauty) it thereby also provides the ground and the necessary thematically recognizable stimulus for effective creative and visionary organizational management.

Keywords


aesthetics; information technology; information systems; active aesthetic dimension; thematic recognition; ethics; passive aesthetic dimension; perception; conception; C. West Churchman; Heidegger

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3127/ajis.v14i2.30

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ISSN: Online: 1326-2238 Hard copy: 1449-8618
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