This paper describes part of a larger body of theoretical work which provides a new perspective on the nature of informatics, an umbrella term used to stand for the overlapping disciplinary areas of Information Systems, Information Management and Information Technology. We argue for an area of interest located at the intersection of signs and systems, which involves the enactment of forma (the substance of a sign), informa (the content of a sign) and performa (the use of signs within coordinated action). This conceptual scheme is reflected against work not traditionally covered by theory-making within informatics: that of animal communication. We use the well-documented case of the dance of the European honeybee to help ground our discussion. This examination leads to an understanding of the central position of communication amongst organisms as well as the place of human communication in the broad evolution of communication systems. This allows us to highlight crucial features of the concept of a data system as well as the important distinction between persistent and non-persistent data systems within communication processes.
The whole fabric of honeybee society depends on communication
– on an innate ability to send and receive messages, to encode and
decode information. Gould & Gould