Skip to Content

Robert K. Logan

Logan Robert

Professor Emeritus

  • email: logan at

Brief CV

B.Sc., M.I.T. (1961); Ph.D., M.I.T. (1965).

Research  Associate, Department of Physics, University of Illinois, 1965-1967.
Research Associate, Department of Physics, University  of Toronto, 1967-1968.
Physics Professor (1968-2005), Department of Physics, University  of Toronto.

Professor Emeritus 2005-, Department of Physics, University of Toronto. 

Member of Terrence Deacon’s Research Team – UC Berkeley 2013-
Fellow University of St. Michael's College and Faculty Co-ordinator of the SMC Science Association, 2012-
Chief Scientist, Strategic Innovation Lab, Ontario College of Art and Design, 2005-.

Senior Fellow, Institute of Biocomplexity and Informatics, University of Calgary, 2005-
Senior Fellow, Origins Institute, McMaster University, 2007-.
Visiting  Professor, Institute of Communications, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Spring 1982.
Cross Appointed to OISE,  Dept. of Measurement, Evaluation and Computer Application and Dept. of Curriculum, 1984-2005.
Senior Fellow Faculty of Environment Studies, York University 1993-5.
Recipient of the Susan K. Langer Prize for outstanding scholarship in the Ecology of symbolic form.  This award was presented by the Media Ecology Association based on the book, The Sixth Language:  Learning a Living in the Internet Age.  June 2000.
Associate Editor of Journal EME which is the Journal of the Media Ecology Association – 2001-2003.
Member of Board of Media Ecology Association – 2001-2004.
Member of the Editorial Board of Explorations in Media Ecology — 2001-2006.
Member of the Editorial Board – New York State Communication Association – 2001-2002.
Nominated as one of the top 30 lecturers in Ontario by TVOntario 2005. 

Research Interests

This collection of articles and book chapter is only a small selection of my work. For a more complete collection of my papers and book chapters please visit or

1) Linguistics: the origin and evolution of language

The Extended Mind Model for the origin of language, the human mind and culture has been in development since 1997. A number of  papers have been presented and published as well as the University of Toronto Press book The Extended Mind: The Origin of Language, the Human Mind and Culture. Click here for a paper summarizing this work that appeared in the  Proceedings of the 2004 Evolutionary Epistemology Conference.

This research has led to two philosophical papers, one co-authored with John Schumann, on the dualistic nature of the brain and the mind, one dealing with the symbolosphere Symbolosphere and the other with the mediasphere mediasphere It has also led to a paper on the role that altruism played in the origin of language and culture: Altruism and to a paper The Emergence of Language as an Autocatalytic Set.

The evolution of  notated language has been developed in a number of articles and two books, The  Fifth Language and The Sixth Language (see publications). The  Sixth Language details the history of information processing work and  education and their impact on each other. Speech, writing, math, science,  computing and the Internet are shown to form an co-evolutionary chain of  languages. Click here for the first chapter of The Sixth Language.

An attempt has been made to understand the origin of artistic expression and its link to verbal language. Click Secondary Perception to access a preliminary article

2) Social impact and history of media

A study was made  of the impact of the alphabet on Western civilization and published in 1986  and reissued in 2004 in a second edition published by Hampton Press under the  title The Alphabet Effect. The book attempts to explain why abstract science began in the West and not China where so much  of the world’s technology originated. The book shows how the phonetic  alphabet, codified law, monotheism, abstract science and deductive logic  provided an environment for their mutual development. Click here for the  first chapter of The Alphabet Effect.

The Impact of  computing and the Internet on work and education were presented in The  Fifth Language and The Sixth Language. Click here for the first  chapter of The Sixth Language.

A paper to appear in Exploration in Media Ecology deals with the biological roots of media ecology. Click here

Understanding New Media: Extending Marshall McLuhan, 2nd Edition published by Peter Lang in 2016. The book updates McLuhan's 1964 book Understanding Media: Extensions of Man. The book describes the impact of the "new media" including the Internet, the World Wide Web, blogs, cell phones, iPods and search engines on work, education, culture, and society. The impact of the "new media" on each of the media McLuhan studied in Understanding Media such as radio, TV and the movies are also described. Visitors are invited to read Chapter 1 and Chapter 5 and sent their comments to me by email at: logan(at)

A paper that appeared in Exploration in Media Ecology deals with the biological roots of media ecology. click here
To access  a second paper connecting media ecology and biology click The Medium is the Message is the Content

Two guest blogs appeared on the PBS Mediashift blog dealing with the Understanding New Media: Extending Marshall McLuhan project. The blog "The 14 Messages of New Media" can be accessed at and the blog "Converged Devices Doesn't Mean Fewer Devices" can be accessed at

The book McLuhan Misunderstood: Setting the Record Straight appeared in 2013 published by The Key Publishing House.

3) Science Education

Explorations of the way science can be taught to non-scientists based on my course the Poetry of Physics and the Physics of Poetry. The course ran from the early 1970s to 2015 but the manuscript is available here by clicking.

4) Use of computers in education

Work in this area can be found in The Fifth Language and The Sixth Language. Implications for education of the use of computers and the Internet are developed. The ways in which computers will change our educational goals and curriculum and their relationship to commerce and work are explored.

Despite the important role that computers play in science and engineering research their use in science education has been fairly limited. A study made for the Ontario Ministry of Education of elementary school science education resulted in the recommendation that pupils use the computer in much the way scientists do to organize and process data that they themselves have collected. Greater use of word processing, data bases and spreadsheets and less reliance on simulations and tutorials would achieve this objective.

A study with colleagues from OISE was conducted for the Ministry of Education which established the research parameters for the field of computer applications in education. These parameters eventually became the Ministry criteria by which applications for research funding were judged.

A two year study funded by SSHRC with colleagues from OISE was conducted in which the patterns of computer usage in six Ontario primary schools were determined.

5) Knowledge Management

The ways in which knowledge can be shared and collaborations established have been treated in a book co-authored with Louis Stokes entitled Collaborate to Compete. Click here for the first chapter of Collaborate to Compete.

6) Biocomplexity

As a seniour fellow at The Institute of Biocomplexity and  Informatics (IBI) at the University of Calgary I worked with its founding director Stuart Kauffman. 

Stuart Kauffman and I together with Robert Este, Randy Goebel, David Hobill and Ilya Smulevich have published a paper in Biology and Philosophy 23:27-45 entitled Propagating Organization: An Enquiry

I have extended the paper Propagating Organization: An Enquiry to discuss propagating organization of language and culture in a paper entitled: Propagating Extra-Somatic Organization in the Symbolosphere: An Enquiry

A second paper discusses propagating organization and neo-dualism: Propagating Organization, Neo-Duality and Material and Non-Material Emergence

Reflections on the above papers plus a reading of Katherine Hayles book How We Became Posthuman has led to a new paper entitled: The Relativity of Information and Its Relationship to Materiality, Meaning and Organization.

7) The Strategic Innovation Lab at OCAD: Design and Emergence

As Chief Scientist at the Strategic Innovation Lab at the Ontario College of Art and Design I have co-authored with Greg Van Alstyne a paper on Design and Emergence

Greg Van Alstyne and I have been working on the notion of Design Ecology. The paper here is still a work in progress to which we invite comments and criticism: Design Ecology: Designing for Emergence and Innovation II

A second work in progress deals with the relationship of strategic innovation and design ecology.

At the Strategic Innovation Lab we are working on two interesting projects the sBook project and the Greening My Hotel project.
The focus of the sBook or SmartBook project is to design a new format for the book that combines the positive features of the codex book of ink on paper and the e-book. The following paper, a work in progress, describes the project. click here to get the paper

The focus of the Greening My Hotel project in partnership with Transition Plus Sustainability Solutions is to develop a program to assist hotels to become more sustainable by developing training modules for their staff as well as a catalogue of green products for the hotel industry. 

8) Information Theory

I have completed a manuscript that is in press that deals with the nature of information entitled What is Information? - Propagating Organization in the Biosphere, the Symbolosphere, the Technosphere and the Econosphere. It grew out of my work in biocomplexity (see Section 6.).

Here are some sample chapters. Comments would be appreciated.

Major Publications

Content in Robert K. Logan
The Extended Mind Model of the Origin of Language and Culture
The Symbolosphere, Conceptualiztion, Language and Neo-Dualism