About us

The aim of the DTMD research group is to further the understanding of the nature of information through interdisciplinary conversations, and to explore the insights that new ideas about information can bring to a wide and increasing range of disciplines.

The name, The Difference That Makes a Difference, derives from the celebrated definition of information of Gregory Bateson.

DTMD is based in the Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) at The Open University in Milton Keynes, UK (although we work closely with colleagues from other parts of the university).


Core members

Dr Mustafa Ali is a Lecturer in the School of Computing & Communications at the Open University. He has a background in artificial intelligence, with a PhD from Brunel University in computational philosophy. His current research focuses on the development of a hermeneutic framework that can be used to inform critical investigations of computational, informational,cybernetic, systems-theoretical and Trans-/Post-human phenomena. The framework is grounded in phenomenology, critical race theory and post-colonial thought and is being used to analyse computational social science phenomena (multi-agent systems), power relations within digital politics/activism and discourses on the “digital divide”. Previous research interests include the artificial sciences (AI, A-Life and virtual reality), philosophy of mind (process models of consciousness), conceptual foundations of emergence, and philosophy of technology (artefact ontology).

Professor Chris Bissell is Professor of Telematics, a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. He has been responsible for Open University teaching materials on telecommunications, control engineering, media studies, and other ICT topics. He was Head of the ICT Department for nine years from 1996 onwards. His major research interests are in the history of technology, mathematical modelling, and engineering education, on which he has published widely. He is also active in quality assurance in higher education.

Dr David Chapman is a Senior Lecturer, a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of Institution of Engineering and Technology, and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. He was a design engineer working on optical fibre communication systems with Plessey Telecommunications before joining the Open University in 1986, where he completed a PhD in Optical Fibre Networks and contributed material on telecommunications and ICT to a wide range of courses. Having served as Director of the ICT Programme Committee and Head of the ICT Department, he is now developing his research interests into the nature of information, reported in his Intropy blog.

Derek Jones is a Lecturer in Design with the Open University and module chair for U101: Design Thinking, the innovative and award winning Level 1 entry course for the university’s Design and Innovation degree. His research interests include: the education and development of creativity in education, Building Information Modelling (BIM) design processes in practice and education, Virtual architecture and place, Archetypes in architecture. Derek is also a qualified architect with over 15 years of experience in the construction design and procurement industries. He is currently an architect and BIM Manager for Keppie Design based in Glasgow, Scotland. In his spare time, Derek is also an Associate Lecturer with the Open University.

Dr Magnus Ramage is a lecturer in information systems at the Open University. He has a background in information systems, with a PhD from Lancaster University in computer-supported cooperative work evaluation. His research interests include the lives and work of the key systems thinkers and the nature of information across multiple disciplines. He is co-author of the book Systems Thinkers, a guide to the major thinkers in the field of systems thinking, published in 2009 by Springer. With David Chapman, he was editor of a book on the nature of information across a range of disciplines, Perspectives on Information, published in 2011 by Routledge. He was formerly editor-in-chief of the journal Kybernetes.