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Securing significant patterns: The enigma of forma

Beynon-Davies, Paul ORCID: 2015. Securing significant patterns: The enigma of forma. International Journal of Information Management 35 (3) , pp. 309-321. 10.1016/j.ijinfomgt.2015.01.008

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The historical case described in this paper, which is based upon a re-interpretation and re-presentation of a vast amount of extant scholarship, centers around the use of the Enigma machine by German armed forces during the Second World War to secure significant patterns and the related work of the Government Code and Cypher School to decode such communicative patterns. Through a fresh examination of this case and the ‘information technologies’ used within intelligence work of the day we achieve a number of things. First, we explore the enigmatic nature of what we term forma – the physical aspect of a seme or sign. We use the case to help illustrate the inherent relationship between the use of forma for mundane purposes of communication and the use of forma to remain mysterious; to mask communicative and performative action. Second, in unpacking the nature of formative action the case material helps re-establish the system in information system. It helps re-conceptualize and broaden the nature of information technology and illustrate more clearly the differences but also the connections between information systems and systems of such technology. Finally, the case enables us to position both IT systems (data systems) and information systems within the wider patterning of significance. This allows us to resurrect the importance of communication and control for the proper conceptualization of situated information systems and their supporting technologies.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: T Technology > T Technology (General)
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0268-4012
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2022 08:52

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