Mark Heyer
Founder and President
Institute for Constructal Infonomics

BIOGRAPHY

mh-sony
National Market Development Manager for Interactive Products, Sony Corp. 1983

 

As we enter the age of accelerated evolution, we must understand and predict the co-evolution and convergence of DNA, human social and technical “life forms."

It is the job of computers to work for people, not the job of people to work for computers.

M. Heyer

 

The study of how humans use and value information has been my passion and profession for more than 40 years. It has taken me into diverse fields including physics, cognitive psychology, art, philosophy, photography, engineering, business, teaching and writing. 

Today, I am focused on exploring the landscape of what I am calling the Age of Connectivism. Personal mobile computing devices starting with the iPhone have transformed our society and culture in ten short years. How will this play out for the benefit or detriment of humanity? The fundamental principles of information provide a pathway for understanding and prediction.

One big idea topic is the evolution of the pan-human global brain. What are the consequences and opportunities implicit in the evolution of global consciousness? How can we trace its beginnings and chart its possible futures? 

Current Work - Writing for publication

I am actively researching and writing to explore and explain the fundamental principles of life, information that are shaping our future. The target audience is the informed and curious public.

 

The past is prologue

Immersive virtual reality 1991

During the 60s and 70s, I worked in and studied every media: From photography and art, both commercial and technical, feature films, TV and radio production, book and magazine publishing, educational multimedia, military training and audio production.

My mind was opened to the possibilities of controlling images with computers in the late 60s, thanks to mentoring from the polycreative designers Charles and Rae Eames. Following that path led me to pioneer the field now known as multimedia.

While producing academic multimedia history programs, I became aware of how information tools are used to shape history and can manipulate the past to influence the future. Some of my projects included programs on atomic war and atomic peace, American presidents speaking on the national purpose and a science fiction curriculum for high schools.

Starting at Sony in 1980 and for the next fifteen years, I lectured, wrote and taught what multimedia and the internet meant for the future of people, business, society and education. My focus, from then till now, is how people use and value information. In 1993, while teaching in the Multimedia Studies Program at SFSU, I named this field Infonomics.

I also studied information physics, from electronics and semiconductor architecture to imaging systems and recording media, from logic gates to internet networks and wireless transmission, technical computer programming and database design. I designed and built unique interactive information systems for business, industry, government and universities. For example, I designed and built one of the first functional non-linear video editors, commissioned by Apple and used successfully at their 1990 WWDC.

How does information work for people?

Some of the Media Lab researchers like to quote an optical disk prophet named Mark Heyer on the subject of information seeking. From Heyer's chapter in the book CD ROM: [Microsoft Press, 1985]

"In my view, there are only three ways in which we gather information - by

  • grazing,
  • browsing or
  • hunting..."

Stewart Brand, The Media Lab

In 1981 I introduced the concept. Today, every smart phone and personal computer includes all three as basic functions - video, browsers and search. The future is predictable if you work from basic principles.

Information and thermodynamics

During the 1980s I sought to discover the relationship between information and thermodynamics, which was not fruitful. In 2014, I discovered  Professor Adrian Bejan’s Design in Nature and his Constructal Law of physics, which describes the fundamental principle of flowing energetic systems. This was the key I was looking for.

The Theory of Constructal Information

With the door now unlocked, I formulated a working universal theory of life, based on information theory and the laws of thermodynamics. The theory unifies the functional description of all life forms, from DNA, to human social and technical life forms. In May, 2017, I presented my Constructal Theory of Information(CTI) at the Constructal Law Conference in Bucharest, Romania. My paper was accepted for publication and will soon be publicly available.